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Sydneysiders are spoiled when it comes to leisure options. When they tire of the beach, culture, and nightlife that brims within their city limits, a world-class mountain escape is nearby. The breathtaking Blue Mountains – harboring a series of national parks and conservation areas that have earned a UNESCO World Heritage designation – are set within easy striking distance of Sydney. They’re close enough to taste in a scratch-the-surface day trip, but are best enjoyed over a couple of active days. Just back from my own budget-friendly Blue Mountains escape, here are some tips for this sensational Sydney trip. Read more
As the weather heats up here in New York, we’re all eager to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Since camping isn’t exactly a safe idea in Manhattan (and now that Zuccotti Park is no longer an option), glamping – or glamorous camping – might be your best bet for sleeping under the stars. And now the Hyatt 48 Lex is the most recent hotel to latch onto the glamping trend.
Starting Memorial Day Weekend, when most people will flee the city in favor of Long Island beaches or the Catskills, the boutique hotel is offering intrepid urban campers one of eight terrace accommodations, complete with bedding, pillows, and blankets.
The Suite Glamping Package also comes with books, lanterns, a bottle of wine, a picnic backpack from Dean & Deluca, and a skyline view. And if you get too cold (or the car horns and sirens prohibit you from catching some shut-eye, it rains, or you realize you can’t see the stars because of the bright city lights), your empty suite or penthouse room awaits your return.
The package starts at $509 per night in a Terrace Studio, or $2,500 per night for the penthouse suite.
Were you to plot family camping on a spectrum, on one end there would be traditional camping, with cookware, pitched tents, sleeping bags, and the hard, cold ground. Way over on the other end of the spectrum would be The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe’s Indoor Campout Package, where for a hundred bucks per child, hotel staffers will pitch a 3’ x 5’ tent – equipped with a feather bed and Ritz-Carlton linens, of course – inside your room. Read more
For some families, a fleeting nod to the Midwest (or cows) might be enough. But here’s an idea for 2012: Don’t fly over South Dakota. Land there.
With the summer Rushmore hordes and Black Hills leaf peepers long gone, think about paying a quiet off-season visit to southwestern South Dakota, where several parks and caves are conveniently clustered. One manageable trip is a circuit of Mount Rushmore, Jewel Cave, and Wind Cave, sprinkling in overnights as you see fit and ending up back in Rapid City for the flight home. Read more
This takes focusing on your breathing to a whole new level. At the LaSource Resort and Spa in Grenada, first-time divers can overcome their fears of diving and practice meditation techniques and yoga positions, all while under water. This scuba-yoga program is taught by a group of professional divers called Aquanats, who lead Pranayama yoga poses. Pranayama yoga focuses on the science of breathing, which can help divers, swimmers, athletes, and magicians hold their breath for long periods underwater.
If for the rest of its days the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is known foremost as the home of Winter – a dolphin fitted with a life-saving prosthetic tail after losing her real one to a crab trap – the aquarium would likely be okay with that.
I’m guessing that, not only because the aquarium’s website is a testament to Winter (it’s seewinter.com), but also because Dolphin Tale, the hit movie released in September and based on Winter’s story, is inspiring droves of family vacationers to visit the aquarium to meet the miracle dolphin, learn about the technology behind her new tail, and see sets from the film firsthand. Read more
New England leaf-peeping is a classic tourism comfort food. The quietly-blazing warmth of colors, the serenity of chancing upon them, and the pull of familiarity (certainly, our ancestors were peeping when the states were still colonies) add up to a soothing dish that is basic, life affirming, romantic, and, in many ways, free.
Yet I must admit that unless my family happens to be driving up north anyway, we have never deliberately timed a trip to watch the changing leaves, nor have I ever had the desire to plan a fall foliage-focused getaway. Perhaps I’m selling my kids’ attention spans short or am just being weird about it, but I need more of a reason to take that trip. And the other day, I stumbled across a good one. Tree-climbing classes.
“This year we’re going to a dude ranch with the whole family,” Modern Family dad Phil Dunphy told viewers at the beginning of the Emmy-winning comedy’s season three premiere last week. Fans of the show or not, your own modern family has a chance to win a summer vacation at Lost Creek Ranch Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the very ranch where the Modern Family brood stayed and filmed on location this past summer.
Situated between Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the ranch has lush scenery with pricing to match. During high season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) half duplex cabins for one to three people are $6300 per week per cabin and living room cabins sleeping up to eight are $13,500. Kids six and under stay free, and all meals as well as your own horse for the week are among the inclusions. If this packs appeal, one strategy might be to start saving now and, for good measure, entering Wyoming Tourism’s Modern Family sweepstakes, whose winner will get a package for four including five nights at the ranch and another two in Yellowstone, as well round-trip airfare and a rental car. The sweeps window opened last week and closes a second before midnight this Friday, September 30. Another winner will get a skiing-oriented winter escape elsewhere in Jackson Hole.
Last week the family vacation blog was clued in about seven cities with favorable fall hotel rates, a gift to parents with the luxury of traveling at will with non-school age kids. I don’t have that luxury, but if I did, my first choice hands down would be Denver.
Not only is Denver’s average daily hotel rate 10 percent lower than it was last fall, but prices tend to drop anyway immediately after the city’s summer high season. If you’re looking for a little luxe for less, check out our top-rated Denver hotel, Brown Palace, running such deals as the Kids in the City package (promo code MKTCKC) from $229 per night, including breakfast for two daily as well as a $15 per night room credit.
Whether you’re packing up the family for a few more days of quality time before everyone’s hectic school year schedules start up again or planning a rendezvous for two, these hotels are offering an old-school way to kick it on a red-checkered blanket, no ants allowed, for the last few days of summer.
Head west to the family-owned El Capitan Canyon located on the Pacific coast of Southern California for the Family Picnic Package, which includes a two-night stay in the accommodation of your choice. This upscale outdoor destination is nestled against the Los Padres National Forest and only a five-minute walk away from the El Capitan State Beach. The package includes a complimentary Canyon Logo picnic bag packed with a s’mores kit for four and a bundle of firewood, as well as a picnic blanket, trail mix snack, and a lunch coupon for four to be redeemed at either the Canyon Deli Garden Patio or the Back Market Lawn. Lunch can be packed up to go and enjoyed with gorgeous ocean and mountain views from one of Canyon’s several hiking trails. Rates start at $384 for two nights in the Safari Tent, $516 for a Cedar Cabin, and $494 for the Adventure Yurt; www.elcapitancanyon.com.
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