When planning family trips, it's best to keep kids busy with activities from crafting and music lessons to hiking and swimming. (No one wants to hear, "Mom, I'm bored" while lounging beach side with a cocktail in hand.)

Travel is one of the most fun ways for a parent to share the cultures and natural wonders of the world. These destinations are safe for kiddos, catering to the picky eaters, adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, and beach bums too. Not only will kids be welcome, they'll find programs and excursions designed just for them on each of these global adventures.

Adventurous Resorts

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Koloa, Hawaii

While it may sound like a lazy beach vacay, this beautiful resort is on one of Hawaii's most exciting islands – and one of the world's top resorts for families. The resort offers tons of kid-friendly activities (think ukulele lessons and lei making) in-house. But families can also find breathtaking hikes, ziplines for the token daredevil, horseback riding and kayaking to name a few. For something more low key, splash in a two-tiered pool or the saltwater lagoon that meanders through the hotel's property. By nightfall, kids will definitely be ready to crash.

Waterfalls at Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

River Kwai Floating Hotel, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

For the boy (and girl) scouts who are looking for a back-to-nature experience, this Thai getaway won't disappoint. Thailand is one of Asia's best destinations for kids. With a drive and boat ride to this hotel, they may start to feel a bit like Mowgli in The Jungle Book. Bamboo guest rooms float on top of the River Kwai and offer visitors a taste of Mon culture. It's a bit rustic (as in there are wick lamps instead of electricity. But don't worry, in-room bathrooms are a part of the deal). Kids love exploring the nearby jungles atop of a gentle elephant, or visiting natural wonders such as the Lawa Cave or the Sai Yok Waterfall. Get a few thrills without leaving River Kwai by river jumping or bamboo rafting — something to excite even the most adrenaline-seeking tweens.

Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Nicaragua makes for an affordable, and adventure-filled, Central American trip (and many parents are choosing it over the equally kid-friendly Costa Rica). Visitors won't see nearly as many expats and will get a great taste of the local culture, plus tons of hiking and swimming! In a bungalow at Morgan's Rock, guests are nestled in the treetops and have easy beach access. One of the more exciting excursions to make is to Ometepe Island, formed by two volcanoes, which can be reached by ferry. Explore ancient rock art and petroglyphs and brave the hike up the dormant Maderas Volcano. Parents will appreciate the beaches known for waves that are safe for first-time surfers, zip-line excursions, and an insider look at the lodge's sustainable farm where kids get to collect farm eggs and milk the cows for an awesome family breakfast!

The beaches of Queensland, Australia are a great way to relax

One&Only Hayman Island, Queensland, Australia

A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is an incomparable adventure. While a flight to the Aussie coast may not be ideal for many faraway travelers with tiny tots, the experiences offered through resorts like One&Only can change a nervous parent's mind. If your bucket list includes snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, water skiing or a helicopter adventure above the reef (which is the largest living thing on Earth, mind you), then book a few tickets to Hayman Island. Of course One&Only also offers an entirely kid-centric program called KidsOnly full of excursions and meals from 9am to 6pm if parents need a break.

Traveling Adventures

Camping and cruising may appeal to families that seek adventure on-the-go. Many of these trips welcome first-time campers and those who are especially interested in learning the lay of the land, whether that's in sunny California or rugged Maine. Nature lovers, budding botanists and eager explorers will get animal interactions, sparkling night skies and a new set of skills when signing up for one of these trips.

Trekking the Appalachian Trail in the United States of America

Appalachian Trail

For North Easterners, this trip will make an exciting escape from the bustling city, but any visitors will be in awe of the natural beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Eager hikers can find programs like the Appalachian Mountain Club's Family Camps, which take families with kids as young as five years old around New Hampshire and Maine, near beautiful mountains and full of sleepaway camp-style fun. Expect canoeing, fishing, stream exploration and a classic campfire sing-a-long.

Galapagos Islands

While this isn't exactly a family vacation, road trip style, there is so much kids can learn by a trip to this incredible archipelago. National Geographic is one of the few to organize a cruise to these islands near South America that is geared specifically at budding scientific minds. In the day, kids can snorkel in crystal blue waters and hike the shores among animals like giant tortoises and sea lions, all of which are completely unphased by the presence of humans. Parents will leave with zoologists and nature photographers on their hands.

Klamath River, California is perfect for family camping and trekking

Klamath River, California

This is a fabulous spot to dive into the world of camping as a family for the first time. Whether you're interested in nesting up in an unassuming lodge or setting up a tent under the stars, a trip to this natural Cali beauty guarantees great views and swimming. Several programs like Orange Torpedo and Oars set up multi-day whitewater rafting ventures, but there are hikes to take and plenty of beach lounging to be done as well. On Orange Torpedo's Klamath River Wild and Scenic trip, kids will get to swim in warm water and calm side creeks (the rapid on this trip is exciting, but never dangerous) and the guides will introduce anyone from five years old to the basics of both rafting and camping. These trips can also be as short as two or three days, ideal for any locals or those not wanting to commit to any extensive travel with kids.

  This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on July 19th.

Published in Travel Inspiration

It's no secret that travel is addicting. You cannot take just one trip and then return home without wondering what other spectacular sights, foods and experiences await. Expanding markets like India and China are unleashing more than a hundred million tourists into the foreign travel market a year and still growing steadily. The of rise social media influencers and digital nomads have shown the public that it is possible to travel and have a successful career. That combined with the abundance of professional travel bloggers and vloggers are inspiring a new generation of informed travelers.

Navagio Beach aka Shipwreck Beach in Greece

But once the travel bug bites, what do you do?

Find a way to incorporate work into your travels. In this digital age where so much can be done from a phone or tablet and wifi is never far away, it is easier than ever to work online.

Take amazing photographs?   Consider selling your photos online. You don't even need a portfolio or blog, just join one of the popular stock photography web sites. Alamy and Shutterstock are two of the most popular, both with photographers and customers. Already have a web site? Check out PhotoShelter or SmugMug. In fact here is a great guide on the most profitable places to sell your photos online.

Native English speaker? Bilingual?   English speakers are in demand in a lot of non-English countries. TEFL courses can be taken in person or online, and likewise classes can be held in a physical room or via Skype. Hell some countries don't even care if you have no experience or degree, just that you are a native English speaker. (Like Vietnam!) Professional translation services are also in demand because, let's be honest, Google translate just isn't that reliable.

Already well-traveled or know one location VERY well?   Become a tour guide or travel agent. Several veteran travel bloggers have started their own tour companies. Use your knowledge and eperience to help other people have a rewarding and worry-free trip.

That's what my friends Gunjan and Pranjali did.

Gujan and Pranjali of Tripoetic at Yellowstone National Park in the USA
Gunjan & Pranjali at Yellowstone

After having lived in the United States and traveled around Asia and Europe, Gunjan and Pranjali moved back to India. As more and more Indians are acquiring both the means and the motivation to travel abroad, they soon found themselves using their knowledge to help plan trips for friends and family. Soon they realized their next logical step was to turn this into their career.

Everyone starts off as a tourist and, if they visit enough places, eventually become more traveler than tourist. Travelers learn more, appreciate more and experience more than tourists. That is hands-down the most rewarding way to travel.

The beauty of having an experienced traveler help plan your trip is that they can use their knowledge to ensure that your trip is more of an authentic travel experience, rather than getting caught in an unenjoyable tourist trap. With India's outbound tourism market growing at record numbers, there is no better time for Gunjan and Pranjali to start building toward the future. And thus Tripoetic was born.

Gujan and Pranjali of Tripoetic in Athens, Greece

Using contacts and friendships from their travels around the world, not to mention all their experiences from planning their own journeys, these two travel addicts are now planning trips for all sorts of people with many varied backgrounds. Every trip is custom planned based around your interests, goals, must-see sights, timeframe, budget and of course stomach. (That's right, if you want to make sure you can have your favorite comfort food once every other day, Tripoetic will ensure that an appropriate restaurant is worked into the itinerary.)

Beyond just simply making reservations and handling transportation, Tripoetic takes it one step further by provided extra little services to make your journey smoother. For example, every traveler is also given a daily sightseeing itinerary -- kind of like a miniature guide to everything nearby that might be of interest to you. After all, nothing worse than getting home and learning that you not only missed out on a spectacular site, but that you actually were within minutes of it and didn't even realize.

If you are thinking about heading abroad for the very first time and are a little nervous or only have a short time to pull off a perfect vacation, make sure to get with Gunjan and Pranjali at Tripoetic. They'll handle everything to ensure that you have a wonderful trip.

  Remember: The beauty of travel is that it is a powerful force towards economic uplifting and great tool for putting foreign money directly in the hands of the locals who need it the most -- but only if we avoid the massive international chains and trust in local, family-owned businesses. Travel far, buy local. And always trust in your fellow travelers. Because as Mark Twain famously said, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."

Published in India

Life is stressful. It shouldn't be, but it is. Work, money, relationships, family responsibilities...all can be daily sources of stress in our lives. Over time, this stress can build to unbearable levels and cause serious health issues. But there is a cure -- one that is easier than you might think, and does not require a doctor's visit.

Take a vacation!

More and more studies are showing that vacations actually improve health by reducing stress. A change from the normal routine combined with a new, relaxing location, can do wonders to improve your health and lowering your risk of heart disease.

Wyndham Coffs Harbour Terraces Resort pool in Australia
The rooftop pool of the Wyndham Hotel in Melbourne, Australia

I thought vacations are stressful?

If a vacation is stressful, that means you are not doing it right. A proper vacation should require minimal planning and be more of a joy to plan that a burden.

That's where Wyndham vacation Resorts Asia Pacific comes in handy. They remove the stress from vacation planning by having everything already covered. Become a member of The WorldMark South Pacific Club by Wyndham and their resorts are your resorts, available whenever you need them.

I don't have time for a vacation.

That is where you are wrong. A vacation doesn't have to be a grandiose two week round-the-world trip. It can be as simple as a weekend away from home. Even a brief change of scenery can do wonders to impart new vigor and re-energize yourself.

The average Australian household takes 3.3 vacations a year, but households with The WorldMark South Pacific Club take 5.2 annual vacations -- more than a 50% increase. They have made vacations a regular part of their stress-reducing routine and you should too.

The rooftop pool of the Wyndham Hotel in Melbourne, Australia
The rooftop pool of the Wyndham Hotel in Melbourne, Australia

But where do I go?

With 26 properties scattered across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, there are plenty of picture-perfect destinations that await. You don't even have to escape the city to find relief. The WorldMark South Pacific Club by Wyndham also has resorts in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane -- as well as everywhere in between. These are perfect for short weekend getaways that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated at work on Monday morning.

What are these resorts like?

In a single word: heaven. First class amenities. Top-notch locations. Breathtaking views and exquisite facilities to make you feel right at home. Wyndham's resorts are furnished with gyms, pools, spas and saunas, meaning that just because you are on vacation, you don't have to disrupt your traditional exercise routine. Just imagine how much better it will feel hitting the gym or going for a steam or taking a morning run at Seven Mile Beach, Hobart's only beach resort. Or on Denarau Island in Fiji. This could be your reality.

Gym at the Ramada Resort on Phillip Island, Australia
Gym at the Ramada Resort on Phillip Island, Australia

Dazzle your senses and improve your health.

The word medicine makes people think of bitter pills or uncomfortable procedures, but going a regular vacation is the best medicine you will ever take. It will improve your health, lower your stress, increase your happiness and give you an overall rejuvenation like no other.

No matter is holding you back from your vacation The WorldMark South Pacific Club by Wyndham has the answers.

  This post was brought to you by Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific

Published in Australia

Colorado is one of the best states in the USA to visit. Not only is it beautiful and historic, but it is also full of some of the nicest people in America. Although I still call Asia home, If I ever move back to America it would be somewhere in Colorado. Never been? Colorado is amazing, you have to visit! Here are seven unique and offbeat travel destinations to help get your Colorado vacation started:

  Check out the entire Offbeat Travel Guide collection!

Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour

   Silverton
  $10-20/person depending kid/senior/adult
  Official Web Site

With history dating back to the 1870s, the Old Hundred Gold Mine hit pay dirt just after the turn of the century when they began supplying gold bars to the Denver Mint for use in coining. However the ever-increasing yields from the mine were the begin of the end and before long it was officially "mined out".

Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour
via wwworks

All-in-all the tour lasts almost an hour. After getting loaded up (and bundled up, it is a little chilly underground) you board the railcars and proceed underground. There we explored a couple of the original veins with a guide who gave us a firsthand history lesson of both the mine and mining processes. But the scenery does not stop there; even outside of the mine shafts the backdrop of the local mountains is breathtaking. One neat part of the tour includes a view of the original miners' cabin, which if I remember correctly dates back to 1904. The thing is perched way up on the mountain and just barely is hanging on. As a matter-of-fact, when they first built the cabin they had to secure it to the nearby rock face with metal cables to prevent it from falling down the mountain. Wild!

Gold panning at the Old Hundred Mine in Silverton, one of the top offbeat things to do in Colorado
via wwworks

And of course no tour of a gold mine would be complete without a stop at a real-life sluice box where you can take your turn at panning for gold, silver, and other semi-precious stones just like the gold-panners of the past did. And, yes, no worries: you get to keep whatever you.

Due to the local weather this tour only operates during the warm season, from May to October. And, as with any decent tour, there is also a gift shop selling all sorts of related souvenirs and trinkets as well as snacks and drinks. Check the official web site for more information on directions, rates, and operating hours.

Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

   Canon City
  $19-25/person depending kid/senior/adult
  Official Web Site

Wow, where to start. Think amusement park combined with natural wonder and you might be headed in the right direction. Covering 360 acres and featuring nearly two dozen rides, shows, and attractions to keep you amused, it is hard to get in and out of this place in less than a couple hours -- but then again, why would you want to rush it.

The Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado

The prime attraction and namesake of this park is the Royal Gorge and its sky high suspension bridge, one of the highest in the world. It was built in 1929 for only $350,000 but the cost today would exceed $15,000,000. You can walk or drive across it but I definitely recommend walking, as that allows you to better enjoy the scenery as well as take some fantastic pictures using the 360° view. There is also an aerial tram that is apparently the world's longest single-span tram.

After enjoying the view from above, you can also admire it from below by riding down the 45° incline railway. Seeing it from this angle really puts it all in perspective; the towering bridge you just walked across is nothing more than a thing string stretching across the canyon like the tight-wire of a circus performer.

But the sights don't stop there! You can explore the gorgeous countryside by taking a mule rule ride through the pines and evergreens or strolling the Wapiti Western Wildlife Park. There is one of those free-fall skycoasters and a plaza theatre, a Mountain Man Trading Post (not sure what that is actually, I skipped it), and even a mountaintop lodge for those wanting to stay overnight.

The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park in Silverton, Colorado

The park is open year-round but some of the attractions may be seasonal or weather-permitting. I'm sure the official web site provide you with up to date information.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Keenesburg
$10/person, $5/kids ≤12 yrs
Official Web Site

Located just 30 miles northeast of Denver and covering a grand total of 720 acres and sheltering around 300 lions, tigers, leopards, mountain lions, bears, wolves, and other large carnivores, the Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado is the first sanctuary of its kind to create large acreage species-specific habitats for its rescued animals. Since 1980 the Wild Animal Sanctuary has responded to nearly 1,000 requests from private citizens and government agencies to rescue animals from across the United States and even in Mexico.

Keenseburg Wild Animal Sanctuary is one of the best offbeat things to do in Colorado
via Mark

After breaking free of the Welcome Center & Gift Shop, with a guide book in hand, you'll be set free to wander. They have huge closed-off habitats surrounding the main complex but by far the best thing is the observation ramps and decks that stretch over the animals in the center of the park. Walking up ramps and along observation decks suspending above the animals you can get a birds-eye view of some of nature's most impressive and majestic mammals.

Each of the main observation decks was thoughtfully designed with picnic tables and chairs, as does the small garden area at the foot of the main ramp. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch, or if all else fails the gift shop does also sell a few drinks and snacks.

This is a great family expedition, absolutely perfect for the kiddos.

Beer? I like beer.

Colorado Breweries

   Fort Collins, Longmont, Boulder, Golden, & others
  Varies; Mid-range
  Colorado Brewers Guild

Craft beer is something that every real man should appreciate. It is something to be proud of, unlike that mass-produced swill that relies on a multi-million dollar advertising compaign to get you to buy their crap. It is said that pairing beer and cheese is akin to holding hands, whereas wine and cheese is like arm wrestling. If you are drinking a good craft beer then that is so very true. And if you are like me you'll be happy to learn that Colorado has a lot of microbrews, good microbrews. Colorado is one of the best states for craft beer lovers. As a matter-of-fact they have more breweries per capita than any other state in the USA. And for those that like the [ugh] mass-market beer, you probably already know that Colorado is where Coors proudly calls home. They even offer tours. I didn't go on one. Nothing fany about mass production. Craft breweries however are always cool and quirky!

The Phantom Canyon Brewing Company in Colorado Springs always has fresh, homebrewed craft beer on tap

Almost all of the larger cities have breweries. If in doubt just inquire in a local bar. I even found a restaurant in downtown Colorado Springs that has a glass-encased brewery right in its main dining room. The food was good and the beer was better. If you are in the area, definitely look up Phantom Canyon Brewing Company.

The Phantom Canyon Brewing Company in Colorado Springs always has fresh, homebrewed craft beer on tap

  Have you been to any of the breweries in Colorado or tried any of the local beers? Share your thoughts and/or recommendations at the end of the article!

    Other notable breweries include:
  • New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins)
  • Boulder Beer Company (Boulder)
  • Twisted Pine Brewing Company (Boulder)
  • Crabtree Brewing Company (Greeley)
  • Left Hand Brewing Company (Longmont)
  • Golden City Brewery (Golden)

Casa Bonita

   Denver
  Entrees @ $15 - $20
Official Web Site

Forever immortalized by an episode of South Park, Casa Bonita offers an eating experience unlike any other and I just had to check it out for myself. True to the episode, this restaurant actually features shoot-em up gunfights, cliff divers, strolling mariachis, puppet shows, magicians, games, prizes, and more.

Casa Bonita is the Colorado restaurant famous for it's elaborate jungle interior and one of the quirky things to do in Denver. And yes, it's the same place from South Park.
via Rob Lee

The restaurant is huge, covering over 50,000 sq ft and seating well over 1,000. Hell it has a 30-foot indoor waterfall. You pay for the show though with the cost of the food. Casa Bonita specializes in Mexican cuisine, but their menu is very limited and stereotypical. Everything except the kids meals is over-priced and none of what we ordered stood out or overly impressed us. But the sights, now that was a different story!

United States Mint in Denver, Colorado

Kids will never want to leave this place, but even for adults it is worth at least one visit. Just one though.

United States Mint

   Denver
  Free!
  Official Web Site

How can you beat free? You can't! So why not visit the Denver location of the US Mint and learn a little bit about the coin and currency we Americans use every single day.

Tours are fairly short, only about thirty minutes, but the the guides are very knowledgeable in all aspects of the Mint from the gold rush days up to its present day production of coins. There wasn't too much crazy stuff to see as far as the machinery that actually produces the coins, but there are some interesting displays and videos. And of course the mandatory gift shop.

Take a tour of the Denver Mint, one of the best free things to do in Colorado
via Ken Lund

However, there are a few warnings: first off, you must make a reservation online first or you will not be allowed entry. Additionally, don't plan on taking any pictures for obvious security reasons. And as security is just as tight as at the airport, don't bring with you what you do not need. Finally, there is no public parking. Not a big deal but noteworthy nonetheless.

Pike's Peak

   Manitou Springs
  $10/adult & $4/kid or $35/vehicle
  Pike's Peak Guide by Derek Freal

Colorado has 54 "Fourteeners," otherwise known as mountains with peaks over 14,000 feet above sea level. One of the most well-known however is Pike's Peak. With a 19-mile paved road that winds and stretches all the way up to its 14,110 foot summit, it is no wonder this is the most visited mountain in North America.

Pike's Peak in Colorado

Pike's Peak National Park is open year round, weather permitting. You can see it in the picture above (the red rocks in the picture are the Garden Of The Gods). Be warned, in addition to extreme winds, the temperatures at the 14,110 summit can easily be 40°F less than at the base, which is only at around 8,000 feet elevation. The road to the summit, although just recently fully paved (apparently the last stretch used to be gravel), still features on a couple guardrails, sheer drops, breathtaking views, and scenic view spots you can pull over to park and take pictures.

Pike's Peak in Colorado

  More Offbeat Travel Guides     More photos from Pike's Peak     More American destinations

  Know of any other sights that make Colorado unique? Share them!

Published in United States

Few Caribbean destinations are as spectacular as Punta Cana, the furthermost eastern point of the Dominican Republic. The name means "Tip of the White Cane Palms" and from the minute visitors arrive it is easy to see why: Punta Cana is where the palm trees and beautiful blue of the Caribbean Sea converge together in the most pristine white sand beaches you will find anywhere. Hundreds of resorts are located here and choosing the right one can be difficult, so I've put together a guide on all the best Punta Cana hotels no matter what type of vacation you are looking for:

Romantic Getaway

Majestic Colonial resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

When it's time to whisk the love of your life away for a romantic Caribbean vacation, The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana is arguably the best destination in all the Dominican Repbulic. Their spacious and luxurious suites are second to none. However what truly makes them the ideal place for a romantic rendezvous is the private in-suite whirlpools.

Family-Friendly Retreat

Majestic Colonial resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

When taking your family to a tropical paradise like Punta Cana, it's important to stay at a hotel that is the epitome of "tropical paradise." The Majestic Colonial is one of the most pristine and impressive hotel resorts that I have ever seen. Immaculate grounds, breathtaking views, helpful staff, and of course plenty of children's activities to keep the little ones amused all come standard. However my personal favorite is the overwhelming choice of food; nearly every type of cuisine imaginable can be found in the restaurant!

All-Inclusive Fun

The only thing that makes paradise better is not having to deal with any bothersome restaurant or bar bills. Plus there is nothing quite like the thrill of an open bar or never-ending buffet, two things that quickly become clear to those staying at Barceló Bávaro Beach, one of the top-rated all-inclusive luxury resorts in Punta Cana.

Majestic Colonial resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Beyond their obligatory beaches and pools lies everything that guests could ever need: fitness center, casino, multiple bars and restaurants, golf course, even babysitting services. Wrap it all up with a bit of Punta Cana sun and a warm, friendly staff and it's no wonder that the worst part about Barcelo Bavaro is actually leaving.

Nothing But The Best

When only the finest all-inclusive five star luxury will do, look no further than Iberostar Grand Bavaro Hotel. This award-winning hotel resort is consistently ranked as one of the best resorts in all the Domican Republic. A sprawling complex of buildings, beaches, pools and palm trees, Iberostar Grand Bavaro is large enough that even when fully booked the property never feels crowded.

Majestic Colonial resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Budget-Friendly Options

Although Punta Cana is not what one would describe as a budget travel destination, there are several budget-friendly options available that will allow visitors to enjoy paradise without breaking the bank. Backpackers will feel right at home in the Punta Cana Hostel, which has a community kitchen, restaurant, bar and pool. among other amenities. Another great option is the Hotel Cortecito Inn Bavaro with beach-side views and complimentary breakfast.

  flickr //   sackerman519   ianbruce   dbrekke   drewott

Published in Dominican Republic

Houston has countless sights and destinations that are ideal for the entire family but specifically orientated children, such as the Children's Museum, NASA Space Center, and Splashway Water Park. However, no matter how you decide to pass the day as a family, it really makes the trip that much easier if you are also staying at a family-friendly hotel. That having been said, here are my top picks for the best kid-friendly hotels in Houston.

Four Seasons Hotel Houston

When choosing a hotel as a family, it really helps if that hotel makes a special point of catering to kids. The Four Seasons Hotel Houston takes the gold here. Not only do they provide milk and cookies to the young ones while the parents are checking in, but they also give a special gift to each of your little ones. Special kid-themed toiletries and children-sized bathrobes are also included. And if the parents want to escape for a few hours and get an on-site spa treatment or catch an evening show, The Four Seasons can also arrange a babysitter to watch over loved ones.

Omni Houston Hotel

Looking down on the lobby of the Houston Omni Westside hotel in Texas
Photo by Nicolas Henderson via Flickr

The Omni Houston Hotel has taken children's entertainment to a whole new level by provided all kids with a backpack full of goodies upon check-in. Contained within are crayons, an activity book full of fun games and healthy recipes, memory game playing cards, and more. If that isn't enough to keep the youth occupied, then consider booking one of their Kids' Sensory Suites. This attached room is a special little world designed exclusively to appeal to children. It has bright artwork and murals, a Nintendo Wii complete with a collection of kid-friendly games, an art station where kids can release their inner creativity, an assortment of children's books and movies, and even glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. But the best part? One of the walls is a chalkboard that comes with colored chalk so that your kids can make their room truly unique. These suites can even be customized for a boys- or girls-only party if so desired.

St. Regis Houston

For the discerning family, St. Regis Houston offers the ultimate luxury family experience. They have a Family Traditions package that will help you to explore the metropolis in a way that is entertaining to kids of all ages. They can also equip your room with a variety of necessities to make your children feel more at home during their stay -- and even provide butler service assistance to keep mom and dad from getting stressed. A kids pool and youth-orientated dining menus are also staples of the St. Regis experience. Of course, if you ever need to break free from your children for a session of couples pampering at the hotel spa or late night show at the theatre, rest easy knowing that St. Regis has plenty of babysitters and nannies on-call.

See More       Family Travel Ideas   Texas Travel Guides

Published in United States

If you love all year round sun, beaches and nightlife, the Canary Islands are where you should head for your summer holiday in 2015. The sun-soaked screen of the West African coast has everything to offer. The best thing about a cruise is you can enjoy everything the Canaries have to offer, without committing to one place for the duration of your trip. You can sit back, relax and enjoy all your cruise package has to offer, just a stone’s throw from the shore.

The Canary Islands

A day in Tenerife

Tenerife is the biggest of the Canary Islands and boasts a huge tourist gathering each and every year. Although it’s known as a child friendly, family resort, it’s also a nice place to take a cruise to, with its secluded beaches and hillside villages. When the ship docks, stroll into some of the many designer shops which line the port side, or take a speed boat ride to go whale or dolphin watching, which surprisingly is a year round event.

A visit to Iberia

Just off the coast of North Africa, Iberia is the perfect destination for those looking to get away from it all and enjoy some truly beautiful scenery. You can call in at gorgeous metropolitan ports such as Barcelona and capture sights such as the Sagrada Familia cathedral, cram in a little shop or relax in El Corte Inglés department store with a coffee and take in a view of the whole city.

The Sagrada Familia cathedral in Iberia

Kid friendly

Many cruises offer child friendly services on board in the form on kids clubs and crèches designed to give Mum and Dad a break whilst on holiday. Your little ones can take part in activities such as treasure hunts, pirate adventures and an arts and crafts day, all while in the safety of being on board.

Celeb territory

When you aren't sunning it on the deck or enjoying some of the in house entertainment, why not check out some the many celebrity hangouts the Canaries have to offer. Stars like Penelope Cruz and Jenson Button flock to this town for its long, hot summer days and incredible night life.

If you’re planning a trip later in the year and have checked out the cruise deals, remember to pack for the weather. The Canaries are beautiful in both summer and winter, but it’s best the pack a light jacket just in case you encounter a summer rain shower, even if you spend a lot of your holiday with a cocktail in hand, enjoying the sea views. Enjoy!

  Photos by Josemico // photographerglen // momsworking01, used under Creative Commons license.

Published in Spain

Everyone knows that Carlsbad, California is home to many amazing resorts and relaxing beaches; however, there are tons of other exciting things to do during your vacation here. Whether in town or just outside of the city, family friendly activities or things geared more towards adults, there is no shortage of ways to pass the time. It is a perfect destination for both romantic getaways and family vacations, and one that leaves first-time visitors eager to return for a second taste.

Legoland California

The most well-known of all of Carlsbad's attractions, Legoland California is obviously heaven for children. Surprisingly, it is also entertaining to parents as well. With over 60 family rides, and plenty of engrossing and educational attractions and shows, Legoland is 128 acres of pure joy.

K1 Speed Carlsbad in California

K1 Speed Carlsbad

While mom and the young kids are having fun at Legoland, K1 Speed is the perfect place for dad to take the teenagers. Get a rush of adrenaline and experience what it is like to be a race car driver in a safe, fun environment. Even if you've been before, it's worth a second visit because they periodically change the track. Oh, and did I mention they also sell food and beer there? So, what are you waiting for?

Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

The beautiful Flower Fields at Carlsbad, California

Arguably the most beautiful sight in all of California, the Carlsbad Flower Fields are 50 acres of colorful brilliance. For a nominal $10 entry fee, visitors can wander through the fields for hours and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It is also a favorite destination of photographers or anyone who wants to get some amazing family photos amongst a sea of flowers. The best time of year to visit is during spring when everything is in full bloom.

Day-Trip to San Diego

Located just a 30-minute drive to the south, San Diego is a bustling metropolis that offers tons of activities not found in Carlsbad. Whether you want concerts, sports venues, or theatre shows, the city is your oyster.

The Chargers call San Diego home and, depending upon the time of year you are visiting, catching a football game is a great way to pass the afternoon. If the performing arts are more your taste, the Civic Theatre and Balboa Theatre are the two main theatres in San Diego. My personal favorite is the latter. Not only is it an impressive theatre, but it was recently named one of the world's 15 most amazing theatres by CNN Travel.

If you have any questions on what to do while there, feel free to leave a comment below.

  flickr   //   notahipster

Published in United States

Nothing ruins a family vacation faster than accidentally booking a room at a "party hotel" full of young people drinking and running wild all night. To help avoid that, here are my top family-friendly hotels and resorts in the amazing beachside town of Carlsbad, California.

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

This amazing resort is home to Kidtopia, the ultimate in resort entertainment for kids 12 and under. In addition to an extensive playscape, games, puzzles, and books, Kidtopia also has a nursery for toddlers and a "night camp" on weekends – the perfect way for adults to enjoy a night to themselves. Omni La Costa is also conveniently located mere minutes from plenty of shopping and dining options, not to mention the kid-centric Legoland California.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Spa & Golf Club

Kids 10 and up will feel right at home in the Park Hyatt's game room. It comes complete with an arcade center, six PlayStation consoles, air hockey, foosball, and a large selection of board games. There is even a billiards table and shuffleboard court. Meanwhile, the younger ones can live it up at Camp Hyatt, a fun and entertaining option for children ages four to 12. Once the children are entertained, parents can pamper themselves as they see fit.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, California

Tamarack Beach Resort Hotel

The recreation room at Tamarack Beach Resort Hotel was crafted with family fun in mind. In addition to a large selection of board games, puzzles, and DVD movies, the recreation center also comes fully stocked with several pool tables and a ping pong table. The hotel also has complimentary planned activities that are fun for the whole family. For families looking to escape the hotel and have some outdoor fun, the beach is a short walk away, or take a short drive to Legoland.

Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara

For parents wishing to spoil themselves – and their children – Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara is the resort to choose. The resort has an extensive and ever-changing collection of kids activities that will enthrall and entertain children of all ages. After all, when the kids are happy, the parents are happy! Once they are occupied, parents are free to escape and unwind with a visit to the spa, one of their many pools, or a trip to the fitness center and steam room.

The Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara in Carlsbad, California

West Inn and Suites

The number one rated family hotel in Carlsbad, West Inn and Suites is devoted to providing first class hospitality for families. They have cribs and Pack n' Plays ready at a moment's notice, an interactive library full of games and books, and even an on-site park. When bedtime approaches, the younger ones are treated to milk and cookies while the adults are rewarded with the Seasonal Pour. And when it comes time to venture out, the hotel offers shuttle service to Legoland, as well as beach toys for the kids, and umbrellas and chairs for the parents.

Legoland Hotel

Last but certainly not least is the Legoland Hotel, conveniently located inside Legoland California. Everything about this place was designed with the kids in mind, from custom Lego kids sleeping areas complete with an entertainment console in each room to the welcome treasure hunt with Lego prize that every child receives upon check-in. Kids are also welcome to use the hotel's collection of Lego bricks to build whatever their heart desires.

The Legoland Hotel in Carlsbad, California

Have you ever been to Carlsbad?

  As a blogger ambassador for Hipmunk I have written several articles for their site and am now taking part in Hipmunk's #citylove campaign, where they have given me the opportunity to share some of my favorite locations with you.

  flickr   //   spookyamd

Published in United States

The many attractions of Switzerland make it an excellent destination for a European adventure. From the majestic beauty of mountain landscapes to the cultural attractions of some historic cities, there is much for visitors to enjoy on a trip to this landlocked country. Aside from the usual Swiss highlights, there are plenty of other things to see and do and the following are some to consider.

Enter a Ski Marathon

Switzerland has long been a popular destination for winter sports and there are plenty of resorts offering catered ski chalet holidays. This type of vacation provides access to the slopes and the opportunity to take in some impressive alpine scenery of snow covered peaks and valleys. While many holidaymakers enjoy racing down a prepared or off-piste slope, others prefer cross-country skiing and for these the Engadin Skimarathon is something to consider. This annual cross-country race is open to anyone over the age of 16, with up to 13,000 competitors taking part each year. The full distance covers some 42km although there is also a half-marathon that runs to 21km. For the adventurous that want to take part, it can be an incredible Swiss experience and one they will certainly remember.

Take a Toboggan Ride

A less energetic way for all the family to enjoy some winter scenery is on offer at La Tzoumaz resort in the Alps. It has one of the longest toboggan runs in Switzerland, which stretches out to around 10km in length. Access to the top of the run at Savoleyres is by cable car and from there it is an 820m drop all the way back down to the resort. This allows riders to build up some speed as they slide to make it an exhilarating experience for children and adults.

Stay in Jail

Lucerne is a popular destination in Switzerland and the Jailhotel in the city offers a unique way to stay there. The historic building was originally constructed in the mid 1800s and served as a prison for many years before being converted to a hotel in the 1990s. It retains many of the original features and visitors can get a feel for what prison life was really like as they spend the night on bunk-beds in a barred cell. There are also larger Governor and Library rooms on offer and as it is a budget hotel, it has some of the most affordable prices for accommodation in Lucerne.

Walk Through History

The Ballenberg Open-Air Museum is situated on Lake Brienz and offers the chance to stroll through some Swiss history. Around one hundred traditional buildings from across Switzerland have been brought to the museum and reconstructed in all their glory. This includes homes, schools, farm buildings, and other architectural gems. The museum also provides demonstrations of traditional Swiss crafts and food making, as well as having a farmyard display of over 200 animals and garden areas growing local plants, herbs, and flowers.

Switzerland is a beautiful country, with scenery and attractions that ensure anyone will have an enjoyable time on a trip. Those that choose it for a vacation should consider trying some of the activities shown above. They offer a more unusual experience, but are certainly worth the effort for a truly fun Swiss adventure.

Published in Switzerland
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