Destination Snapshot: Santa Barbara

August 5th, 2010

Photobucket

Want a quick mom’s eye view on a destination? MomsTravelTales.com has you covered with our new collection of Mom-servations on destinations across the globe.

FishMama of Life as Mom is sharing some of her favorite Santa Barbara spots for families today. This mom of six KNOWS family fun and is a Californian herself, so you can definitely trust her.

City or town name:

Santa Barbara, CA

Photobucket

Is there an airport there?

Yes, there is an airport there. United is one of the major airlines. LA International and San Jose are the other closest airports.


Is this a place you have visited more than once? If so, what keeps you coming back?

My husband grew up in Santa Barbara. I went to college at UCSB. We still have family and friends here, but even if we didn’t, we’d still want to visit. It’s beautiful.


What makes this place great for families to visit?

Beautiful parks, beaches, bike paths, and nature trails make this an ideal place for families. There are also a number of museums and attractions worthy of visits, including the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Botanic Garden, Mission de Santa Barbara, the Natural History Museum and the Ronald Reagan Ranch.

Photobucket


How long should a family plan to stay to hit the highlights?

A day in Santa Barbara is a blast, but if you’re coming from far away, I would allow at least three to four days. There’s no shortage of things to do. The restaurants are fantastic and the weather is usually nice.

Photobucket

What are some of the fun things to do?

Our kids are aged, 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, and 13, so we represent all ages. All of our children have found something of interest at the beach and at the local parks. There is much exploring to do in the nearby hills and creeks. The Zoo is usually a hit with families and boasts a number of picnic spots, so bring your own food. Take a walk on Stearns Wharf or along the Breakwater. Fly kites at Shoreline Park. We make about 3 weekend trips to Santa Barbara each year and haven’t yet exhausted all the possibilities.

What family-friendly places to eat would you recommend? Anything special about them? La Superica Taqueria is a little taco stand on Milpas that serves fantastic, authentic Mexican food. It was a favorite of Julia Child’s. The atmosphere is relaxed, but the place is hopping, so be prepared to wait unless you go early. Blenders in the Grass is a wheat-grass bar that mixes up delicious fruit smoothies that are a meal in themselves. Giovanni’s Pizza is a great place for kids as is Taffy’s Pizza.

What hotels or other places to stay can you recommend? We’ve never had to find accommodations due to having family and friends in the area. But, since Santa Barbara is a popular tourist destination, there are lots of places to choose from with varying price ranges.

Photobucket

If adults can fit in a date night without the kids while there, what would you suggest? It’s been awhile since we actually took a date night, but some of our favorites “back in the day” were Brophy Brothers, The Palace Grill, and Roy. There are so many good restaurants in Santa Barbara, it’s really hard to go wrong.

Wanna know more about FishMama and how she travels the road to joyful motherhood? Visit her at Life as Mom for great ideas and lots of adventures. And visit GoodCheapEats for delicious tips on how to eat well, act your wage and enjoy life.


Destination Snapshot: Rehobeth Beach, Delaware

July 31st, 2010

Photobucket

Want a quick mom’s eye view on a destination? MomsTravelTales.com has you covered with our new collection of Mom-servations on destinations across the globe.

Here, Meredith B. shares her insight on Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, a place she and her family have enjoyed every summer for the more than a decade. She definitely knows her stuff on this one!

City or town name:

Rehobeth Beach, Delaware

Is there an airport there? If not, what is the nearest airport and how far away is it?

We fly into Philadelphia but Baltimore BWI is just as close, then there is a 2 hour drive

Is this a place you have visited more than once? If so, what keeps you coming back?

My parents own a home there as my step mom is from Delaware and my 2 step brothers and their families  live in the area.  I have gone every summer since I was 15 and my children have gone every summer of their lives: )

What were the ages of your children when you visited?

0-11

What makes this place great for families to visit?

This is a complete family- friendly town.  There is a nice beach and a great boardwalk.  There is a small amusement park called Funland.  Besides this, there are mini-golf, ice cream places galore…  just everything you could think of to do with kids on vacation, renting bikes… It’s all there!

How long should a family plan to stay to hit the highlights?

One week

Photobucket

What are some of the fun things to do? What were your favorites? Why? What ages would these spots appeal to?

We spend our days playing at the beach, golfing, getting cleaned up at night and going out for pizza and ice cream and going to the boardwalk to ride rides and play games

What family-friendly places to eat would you recommend? Anything special about them?

There is a great pizza place called Nicola’s and an old fashioned ice cream store called The Royal Treat.  Away from the avenue there is a very popular sea food restaurant Big Fish.  There is paper on the tables for kids to write on but long waits at peak times.

Photobucket

If adults can fit in a date night without the kids while there, what would you suggest?

There are lots of bars in town.  We especially like Dogfish Head Brewery which brews beer that is sold in Texas and all over the US.

Meredith has also shared her trip to Tulum, Mexico with us. And we have more from her in store to share this Fall. Stay tuned.. or better yet, subscribe to have MomsTravelTales brought right to your email  inbox!


Destination Snapshot: St. Louis

July 23rd, 2010

Photobucket

Want a quick mom’s eye view on a destination? MomsTravelTales.com has you covered with our new collection of Mom-servations on destinations across the globe.

I’m especially excited to read this Destination Snapshot myself as we have a trip to St. Louis coming up in just a few short weeks. I’m quite thankful to our friends Pam and Marc and for sharing it with us! They have two adorable girls and really know family travel. You might have read Pam’s Destination Snapshot on their hometown of Memphis.

Here’s what they had to share about St. Louis:

City or town name:

St. Louis, Missouri

Is there an airport there? If not, what is the nearest airport and how far away is it?

Yes – Hub for American Airlines

Is this a place you have visited more than once? If so, what keeps you coming back?

We went there for our first time recently, but it is a popular trip for many families we know and we plan to go back soon.

What makes this place great for families to visit?

There are lots of affordable things to do without the hassle of huge crowds.

How long should a family plan to stay to hit the highlights?

A family can hit the highlights in an extended weekend, but there is enough to do to spend a week or more.

What are some of the fun things to do? What were your favorites? Why? What ages would these spots appeal to?

For kids there are lots of great choices.

1) The children’s museum is called The Magic House and it has great hands-on experiences for the kids.

2) If your kids want a place to really climb, learn and get out some energy all while learning check out the website for The City Museum.

3) The highlight of our trip was Grant’s Farm.  Admission is free.  It is a combination of a zoo and a petting farm with a little bit of civil war time education mixed in.

4) The St Louis Zoo also had free admission and the insider tip is if you get there early you can park on the street and park for free.  It is a really good zoo for the exhibits, but if you have small ones, rent a stroller.  It is very spread out compared to some zoos.

5) The St. Louis Science Center is near the zoo.  It has an IMAX theater, a planetarium and lots of exhibits.

6) About 20 minutes outside of the city there is a Six Flags park also.

There is also the famous St. Louis Arch.  There are trips where you can go in it which our kids did not want to try, but it is a sight to see and you can walk up and touch it, take pictures with it, and the like.

St. Louis is also home to the Cardinals (baseball), the Rams (football) and the Blues (hockey).

What family-friendly places to eat would you recommend? Anything special about them?

We ate breakfast and dinner in the hotel and lunch at the activities.

What hotels or other places to stay can you recommend?

We stayed at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch, which was the #1 rated hotel rated by the reviewers at Tripadvisor.com and they were right on target.   The room rates could be under $100, but we splurged for a two room suite with two queen beds for $148, which included an awesome  breakfast, afternoon snacks (chips, carrots, fresh popcorn, etc.), and 3 alcoholic drinks for the grownups, soft drinks, indoor pool, and health club.  There is a family friendly restaurant on site that is about the same as a Friday’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Applebee’s.  The highlight of the trip for our 5 year old was the breakfast buffet with so many choices.

You can walk two blocks to the arch or to the baseball park.  They even have indoor parking.

There are a few other Drury places around town that are highly rated.  There is a Four Seasons which comes recommended from friends as well.


Destination Snapshot: Paradise Valley, Montana

June 1st, 2010

Want a quick mom’s eye view on a destination? MomsTravelTales.com has you covered with our new collection of Mom-servations on destinations across the globe.

Today my friend Rachel Quan shares one of her favorite destinations… and it could become a favorite of mine, too! I’ve only heard wonderful things as to Montana’s beauty! And it sounds like the perfect mix of excitement and relaxation…

Photobucket

City or town name:

Paradise Valley, Montana – which is not a city, but an AREA that is a major river valley of the Yellowstone River in southwestern Montana.  It is located just north of Yellowstone National Park and flanked by the Absaroka Mountain Range on the east and the Gallatin Mountain Range on the West.  Bozeman, Livingston, Gardiner and Dillon are the cities/towns that are most notable in the Paradise Valley.

Is there an airport there? If not, what is the nearest airport and how far away is it?

The closest large airport to this area of Montana is in Bozeman.  Sometimes we fly into Salt Lake City and drive from there to our destination – about 5 hours – it’s a beautiful drive.  Most years, we pack up our Suburban and drive everyone and everything up with us for 2-3 weeks – including the dogs.  It’s a 3-day drive and we love to go up through the Texas panhandle, Colorado and Wyoming for the most scenic route.

Photobucket

Is this a place you have visited more than once? If so, what keeps you coming back?

We have vacationed in Montana – specifically this area – many times, almost every summer for the past 8 years.  There is nothing like the “Big Sky Country” and its beautiful mountains, valleys and rivers.  We love the outdoors.   A few members of our family love fly-fishing and the weather in the summers can’t be beat.  Believe it or not, we’ve only gone into Yellowstone National Park once in all the years we’ve been going back.  We don’t like crowds or traffic jams, which is what the norm is in the summers there.  You have to visit it once just to say you’ve seen Old Faithful and some pretty spectacular waterfalls, but we like to go where there aren’t a ton of people and the scenery is just as spectacular.  We’ve rented RVs and stayed along the Gallatin, Madison and Yellowstone Rivers on different trips.   We’ve enjoyed the small town feeling and great food in Bozeman, and we’ve rented a house as well.  My parents used to live in Dillon, Montana – so we have stayed with them at times and taken their RV on many an expedition as well.

What makes this place great for families to visit?

If you love the outdoors, it’s the perfect family vacation.  You can fish, you can swim, you can hike, you can go into town and enjoy a good meal, you can find places that have horseback riding… or you can venture into Yellowstone National Park if you feel like you have to see the standard fare.  We love it because you can’t beat the beauty and we aren’t distracted by all of the hustle and bustle of a busy city.  Because we live in a very urban setting year-round, it’s where we can really relax, unplug and enjoy being together.  Although we have friends that go into Colorado or stay in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (beautiful places), there’s something special about Montana – it just doesn’t seem as touristy or crowded in the summers.

How long should a family plan to stay to hit the highlights?

No less than 10 days – there’s so much to see and enjoy.

Photobucket

What are some of the fun things to do? What were your favorites? Why? What ages would these spots appeal to?

Our family (specifically Rachel’s dad and sister) loves to fly fish, and Montana is famous for its fly fishing.  You can find professional guides to take you on guided tours or “floats” on the various rivers, or you can enjoy standing knee-deep in the glacier-fed rivers by yourself and fishing.

We do a lot of swimming, hiking and just sitting along the river – as well as sitting around the campfire in the evenings!  We’ve been taking our son to Montana since he was 2-years old, but as he’s gotten older he’s enjoyed it even more.  All ages can enjoy this type of trip, depending on your lodging situation.  This summer, we’ll rent a house because so much of our family is meeting there for vacation – and we would recommend renting a house if you have really small children.

What family-friendly places to eat would you recommend? Anything special about them?

Family-friendly eating on a vacation like this is about “camp food” if you’re camping out or in an RV.  When we stay in a house, we make big trips to the grocery store and I (aka “Mom”) cook up a storm – all the things we can’t have during the year.

However, if you’re looking for a few fun places in various towns, we have some recommendations.

-DILLON, MONTANA:  you have to go to the Sweetwater Café on Bannack Street for wifi (to check in with the world for a moment) and great coffee, salads and bakery items.  This is a really small town and the Sweetwater Café is great food and a great atmosphere.  Plus, it’s right down the street from the Patagonia Outlet, where we always find great deals on our favorite outdoor gear.

-BOZEMAN, MONTANA:  there are lots of great places, many that serve locally grown fare, etc… but our favorite place to visit is a place called The Naked Noodle on South Willson – where you get to create your own noodle dish.  Sounds odd, but our son loves it and it tastes good.  Our other eatery in town is located in the historic Baxter Hotel – where there’s a great wine bar and lots of yummy dishes.

-LIVINGSTON, MONTANA:  you can’t beat going to The Northern Pacific Beanery (on West Park Street) for a GREAT breakfast  — great omelettes, pancakes and even chicken fried steak (for breakfast)!  Plus, it’s located in a historic building – the old Northern Pacific Railroad Depot.

What hotels or other places to stay can you recommend?

There are hotels and motels galore in the various small towns in the Paradise Valley.  However, the BEST way to experience this part of Montana is by renting an RV or renting a home that is out in the middle of it all.

For RV Rentals:  We’ve rented from both Big Boy Toys and C&T RV Rentals, both located in Bozeman, Montana.  One year we rented a trailer we hooked to the back of our Suburban and camped along Madison River and one year we rented a full-blown RV that we drove up to the Gallatin River and made that our home base for a couple of weeks.

For Home Rentals we still use (and have always had success with ) VBRO – Vacation Rental By Owner.  Set your budget, figure out where you want to be close to (the water? In the mountains? Near a town?) and inquire about the properties that meet your criteria.  This year, we’ll be staying in a great house that has incredible views of both mountain ranges, is 5 minutes from the Yellowstone River and one hour from Bozeman.  The kitchen will lend itself to some great cooking (my therapy) and the 1500 Square Foot deck with two barbeques where we will spend most of our time when we’re there.

If adults can fit in a date night without the kids while there, what would you suggest?

Hmmm… this might not lend itself to that unless you have family on the trip (like we do).  I guess you’d want to put the kids to bed and snuggle with your spouse next to the campfire.


Destination Snapshot: San Antonio, Texas

May 25th, 2010

Photobucket

Want a quick mom’s eye view on a destination? MomsTravelTales.com has you covered with our new collection of Mom-servations on destinations across the globe.

San Antonio is always sizzling with excitement with lots of fun family destinations and festivals. My friend Lisa recently moved from San Antonio, so I thought I would ask her to share some of her favorite tourist spots and insider secrets. I am so thankful she agreed to share…

City or town name:

San Antonio

Is there an airport there?

Yes the airport is called San Antonio Intercontinental Airport.  Easy access.

Is this a place you have visited more than once? If so, what keeps you coming back?

Our family use to live in San Antonio for many years.  We miss the hill country, and all the fun things to do that aren’t too far away.  I have lived in various cities and personally I liked the way San Antonio felt like a large city (in regards to entertainment and shopping), however had a small town feel.

Photobucket

Photobucket

What makes this place great for families to visit?

In San Antonio you can be entertained by the River Walk, the beauty of the Hill Country, Sea World, and most certainly the food.  It appeals to singles, couples, and families of all ages.  San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is in Febuary.  The festivals:  Fiesta, held in April each year has so many events to choose from.  Parades, Concerts, food events (my personal favorite ).

Photobucket

How long should a family plan to stay to hit the highlights?

3-5 days would be enough time to see some of the sites.  You won’t be able to cover them all, but that’s what brings people back!

What are some of the fun things to do? What were your favorites? Why? What ages would these spots appeal to?

It hard to pick a favorite, and the most of what we have done with the family, however I think All ages would appreciate it.

One of the most famous destinations is the San Antonio Riverwalk.  It is a beautiful picturesque river that is lined with HUGE Cypress trees.  The river is dotted with hotels, restaurants, bars, IMAX and shopping.  My 4th grader just finished a report on San Antonio, and one thing I learned was that years ago they almost paved over the river to build.  Thank goodness that plan was scraped!

Photobucket

All year the Riverwalk is filled with locals and tourists, however my favorite time to go is end of November- early January.  The trees are adorn with Christmas lights, and they will have choir barges that serenade you.  The lights bounce of the water, and there is a feeling of festive energy!

Photobucket

The Alamo is next to the river walk, and this would appeal to any history buff.  However, young and old would appreciate the sacrifice that was made from these early Texans.  The history that was preserved is neat to witness.  Also you can watch a neat film, located by the infirmary.  If you are needing  a Davy Crockett coon hat or a Jim Bowie “Knife” make sure to go into the large gift shop.  In the gift shop, there are more artifacts to view, and a neat scale of the Alamo back in the day.  I like to take pictures, and some of the best pictures are in and by the Alamo.  Look for the HUGE tree that has supports to hold up its branches, water well (wishing well to the kids) the large cactus, and the hall way of arches- makes for good pictures!

Photobucket

For the animal lover, and children of all ages try the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. It is a drive thru safari on a ranch in the Texas hill country.  At the entrance you have a choice of buying animal food..Do it!  Great pictures..however watch out for the emu’s!  Their long necks can come in and grab the whole bag of food- quickly!

Photobucket

Down the road is the Natural Bridge Caverns- this an amazing cavern far below the earths suffice.  It is a lovely site to behold, and can feed your spiritually from the awe of precision, creation, and beauty.  This is a GREAT attraction in the heat of the summer because the caverns are very cool.  Ahhhhh….

Brackenridge Park and Train-

Take the train at Brackenridge Park, it can drop you off at various locations: one being Witte Museum.  The Tree House at the Witte is fun to run around in.  The Train Station is located across the road from the San Antonio Zoo.  This is a nice zoo, that seems to get better every time I hear about it.  I believe the latest attraction at the zoo is an aquarium!

Photobucket

What family-friendly places to eat would you recommend? Anything special about them?

I’ll let you in on a secret- usually this is a local spot.  This is a family friendly place called Scenic Loop Cafe.  The kids love it because of the great play area, most nights they have bands playing outside.  It’s a great place to unwind, let the kids play and reconnect with family or friends.

Another local spot is Burger Boy.  I have to admit, my family does own it- however it is GOOD!  They have been in the hamburger business for a couple of generations.  Most of their business was bought out by a large food business.  However, one remained.  At lunch time the little place is packed with downtown business people. Hint:  I would get there early or after the rush.

Award winning Burger Boy is downtown and close to Brackenridge park and the Zoo.  Lots of time we have picked up our food and have taken it to the park and by the zoo- like a pseudo picnic. ;)  Tell Grandma Hi!

How can you not go to San Antonio and not have Mexican Food?  This is a family staple for us. I can’t pick a favorite place, but I will throw out some names.  La Fogata- good food and drink, and has a nice patio area!  Jacala’s has been around for centuries…kidding, been there a long time.  Many generations of families still go there.  La Maragrita Restaurant and Oyster Bar is a fun and festive place.  It is located in Market Square surrounding by Mexican art shops and restaurants.  If you go there- get the Salsa Preferda…slurp!  So good…great, now I’m hungry!

What hotels or other places to stay can you recommend?

On the Riverwalk try Marriott, Hilton, or Westin.  There are a few cute boutique hotels as well Emily Morgan, Crockett Hotel, and the famous Menger Hotel.  I also heard good things about Arbor House, which is a B&B.  So if your lucky enough to have a romantic get-a-way- look there!

Photobucket

The Westin La Cantera is great for families, golfers, and convient to Six Flags Fiesta Texas.  They have the Westin Kids Club, so at check-in your kids get a bag, hat and lots of fun things!In the summer, you’ll get a firework display at 9pm.  I love to watch it from the Westin.  The pool is fun for all age kids, or they have an adult pool ( I think I got to walk by it!)  Also picture taking is fun there.  Look for the semi circle that has multiple arches.  Yes!  I like arches.  However the Texas Hill Country is behind it;  just beautiful!  Another bonus to Westin is the kids can go to camp, or to the Club at night.  That means mom and dad have a date night!  Whoo-hoo!  Franceska’s (on site) has wonderful food, and I would try to go around sunset time.  The mile long bar is fun too- they have games to play, or you can sit on the rocking chairs outside, on the balcony.  If you come at Christmas, they have “snow”.

Hyatt Hill Country- this is located by SeaWorld.  (funny, some one was really smart when planning hotels).  This place is neat.  Very rustic country, and family friendly.  My kids LOVE the lazy river, the nightly summer movies, having s’mores by the fire, the play area, renting bikes, etc..Mom loves the Wildflower spa..ahh.  Dad loves the golf.  I don’t believe they have a camp for kids, but if you get a date night, try the Antler’s Lodge.  Nice upscale dining.

If adults can fit in a date night without the kids while there, what would you suggest?

Did someone say romance?  I will give you a tried but true place, that everyone goes to.  It’s back in the hills, and by the time you get there- you’re famished!  Kidding, it just seemed like that the first time we went there.  It’s called Grey Moss Inn.  Very cute and quaint.  My memory is stretching, however it seems to me the the squash side was suberb!  Don’t get me started on dessert…yum!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

        

    Visit Mom's Toolbox
    About

    I love travel And yes, I love traveling with my kids.

    Through MomsTravelTales.com, I’m hoping to share the adventure of family travel with you, whether you travel a lot, just a little or just want a virtual journey.

    Curious about wine?

    Wine4.me

    Visit Mom's Travel Tales