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Posted by missmagpie on 20th October 2014

Montreal in the Fall

 

I am always looking for a weekend getaway, aren’t you? In the fall, I get the “7-week itch”. The kids are back in school, we are knee-deep in sports, homework and after-school activities. I feel like the family could use a quick vacation to regroup and there is no better, or closer place, to do it than Montreal. Did you know it is the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the world? In a way, traveling there feels like a trip to Europe when it is only a trip over the boarder.

Our family frequently visits Montreal. We would actually like to get there more; there is so much to do. Montreal is a city filled with history, science, art and fabulous food. Here are some suggestions for fun in the the City of Saints:

Food Markets

Montreal Public Markets

Let’s just talk about the food for a moment, the public food markets in particular. I think the vendors must get up at 2:00am just to make sure their displays look so artistically beautiful. There are four major markets: Jean-Talon, Atwater, Maisonneuve and Lachine. I’d highly recommend working a stop at one of them into your trip.

Eating Out

Deville Dinerbar

If going out to eat is more your style and you need a kid-friendly suggestion, try the Deville Dinerbar on Stanley Street. With a nostalgic, yet hip vibe, this place serves up huge portions and awesome shakes. Reserve a booth or sit at the luncheonette style counter.

Indoor Fun

Atrium 1000

 

You may, or may not, be familiar with Montreal’s Underground City. It a vast nexus of pedestrian tunnels and walkways below downtown that connects shopping centers, attractions, and the metro. What you need to know is that it will enable your family to get around the city without ever having to go outside if the weather isn’t cooperating. Check out this full-size, indoor ice skating rink called the Atrium Le 1000 that you will find in the Underground City. There are skate rentals (smallest kid size is 9) and 15 restaurants surrounding the rink. Perfectly comfortable inside on a snowy, icy cold day day!

Montreal Biodome

When the kids were younger we never got away with a trip to Montreal without going to the Biodôme. Why? Because there are Penguins, that’s why. If you can drag your kids away from these guys, be sure to check out the 7,000+ other animals that live there as well.

Biking

Biking in Montreal

Exploring Montreal by bike is a great choice. We’ve biked along the paths around downtown. There is a huge network of connecting bike lanes, paths, and trails enabling riders to explore the city.  This map will show you how that works downtown.

Bistro Espace La Fontaine

When you have kids, biking in a park that has a restaurant is an excellent choice! You know kids, they always need a snack, drink or the bathroom. Parc La Fontaine has this adorable  bistro with indoor and outdoor seating, that offers small meals, desserts and drinks. There is no kids menu per se, but I always like to have the option of something, rather than nothing.

Festivals

Gardens of Light Montreal

Every fall, for two months, the Botanical Gardens are lit up with The Magic of Lanterns. This is a must-see in my book.  If you can, I would recommend going during the week when it is less crowded.  Also purchase your tickets online in advance to avoid the long lines at the front gate. If you are traveling with younger kids, this is not a particularly stroller friendly event.  I would suggest carrying them in a child carrier instead.

Nuit Blanche Montreal

If you don’t make it up to Montreal until wintertime, check out the Montréal en Lumière Festival, one of the largest winter festivals in the world.  It closes on the last night with Nuit Blanche (all-nighter) which has 200, mostly free activities that are all linked together by a free shuttle service. There is music, dance, rides, art exhibitions and more. I went a few years ago and was totally blown away. The whole city is absolutely alive with excitement. 

WHERE TO STAY – HOME RENTAL VS. HOTEL

When I think about booking a vacation with my family, staying in a hotel room always leaves me feeling a bit hesitant about the prospect of our impending trip. Not because I don’t want to travel with them, quite the contrary. I would gladly be away with them for weeks at a time. But with a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy, sharing one room with so many beds and rollaways becomes overcrowded really quickly. There is such a thing as a family being too close.

By the time I price out booking two rooms it is actually more cost effective to consider home or apartment rental. More often than not, you can get a whole home for less than the price of a single hotel room. Plus homes often come with a kitchen, washer/dryer, wi-fi, free parking and many other perks that are usually considered add-ons at a hotel and will add up quickly!

HouseTrip.com has a nice selection of rental properties in Montreal. You can find anything from a studio apartment or a 3 bedroom home. You can find rentals near Mont-Royal or on the Golden Square Mile. I recently stayed in one of their homes in Playa del Carmen, Mexico that was beautiful. I think next time we head up to Montreal we will definitely check them out.

Disclosure: the post was brought to you with thanks and support from HouseTrip. The information and experiences are as always, entirely my own.

Posted by missmagpie on 7th October 2014

HouseTrip Vacation Rentals in Playa del Carmen

El Taj

My family has been vacationing in Mexico for the last several years. We have become very fond of the Yucatan Peninsula. When an opportunity to stay in Playa del Carmen came up, I was glad to explore yet another area that I had not seen. I was invited by HouseTrip to stay in a 3-bedroom, luxury oceanfront condo for a few days in September.

SONY DSC

The home itself was truly beautiful. There were 3 bedrooms/3 bathrooms, a large living room with floor to ceiling windows that gave us unobstructed ocean views. There was a fully stocked gourmet kitchen complete with a microwave, coffee maker, blender and even purified water. When I travel with my family I love the option to either cook in or even to arrange to have a chef come an cook for us as a special treat. I have a family of diverse eaters (= code for some are picky) and sometimes eating in is just easier than eating out.

The location of this home is very close to some fantastic restaurants that we had the opportunity to try so if you want to go out I’d suggest Plank for dinner or Imprevist for breakfast. Both were right around the corner from our place.

El taj Kitchen

In my mind, the thing that made this property stand out though, were the outdoor wrap around decks. Yes, multiple decks. There was a terrace with plenty of outdoor seating from which you could watch the sunrise every morning while eating breakfast, plus we had an private roof top deck upstairs with our own hot-tub and grill and even more seating.

El Taj Outdoor Deck

Although I wasn’t here with my family, it was easy to picture myself there with them. They would have enjoyed coming home perhaps after a long day of exploring the Mayan ruins to relax in the large living space rather than cramming into a small hotel room. And the kids definitely would have loved swimming in the private pool or hanging out at the beach club.

El Taj Pool

 

WHY PLAYA DEL CARMEN

The location was ideal for so many reasons. Playa del Carmen is located halfway between the Cancun Airport and Tulum. Not only was it was easy to get to; it was the perfect spot from which to take day trips. We visited the Chichen Itza ruins one day, but the Tulum ruins and beautiful beaches are less than an hour away as well. You could easily explore a cenote like Dos Ojos or the Xplore Adventure Park.  There are so many day excursions that are all within easy reach from this area.

Chichen Itza

Our vacation rental was also right off of 5th Avenue which is famous for its shops, restaurants and nightlife. There is quite a bit of competition to get your attention to come in to buy souvenirs so if you aren’t good at saying no or keeping your head down, you’d better practice ‘no, gracias’ before you go.

5th avenue Playa del carmen

WHY HOUSETRIP

One thing that makes HouseTrip stand out from other vacation rental agencies is that you never have to worry that you are sending your check off to who knows where. Just like when you stay in a hotel, all payments are made up front with a credit card. But for extra security HouseTrip will hold it until 48 hours after you have checked in, just in case there are any issues on arrival and then only after they know you are happy with your home do they then transfer the funds to the owner.

They are one of the largest holiday rental websites in the world with more than 300,000 properties to choose from in over 20,000 destinations worldwide. I know that next time I think about booking a home rental or apartment I will be checking the HouseTrip web site first to see what is available in the area I am looking to vacation.

Disclosure: While my accommodations and some meals were provided by HouseTrip, as always my review reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.

Posted by missmagpie on 4th September 2014

Top 5 Thing to Do this Fall in Vermont

Apple Picking Vermont

I love summer. Who doesn’t love summer? But I am a sucker for fall in Vermont.  I love apple picking, harvest festivals, corn mazes and don’t even get me started on the cider donuts! They make me weak in the knees. If you’ve never had a Dizzy Dozen, you must put them on your list for this season. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite things for fall fun in Vermont that we think you shouldn’t miss this year.

Small Farms Food Festival at Shelburne Orchards

Small Farms Food Fest at Shelburne Orchards

This harvest festival is pretty much the whole package. The champion of all harvest festivals (well maybe aside from the Old Fashioned Harvest Market in Underhill). You’ve got your hay bale maze, rope swing, tractor rides, local music and activities for kids. Under the big tents you will find treats from Vermont farmers and food producers. They will be selling anything from pickles to organic chicken salad so come hungry! Oh and did I mention it is set in an apple orchard that has views of Lake Champlain?

Apple Picking

Apple Picking in Vermont

Get on out there and start picking! Vermont has so many different varieties — Macintosh, Empire, Cortland, Honeycrisp (my personal favorite), Ginger Gold and more that you will be surprised how fast you can fill up a bag or a bushel. Most orchards open the last weekend in August or in early September. While you are out there picking watch for the wooden apples that are hidden in some of the orchards. You might just win an iPad or iTouch from Vermont Vacation!

Fall Foliage Drives

Fall Fun in Vermont

Leaf Peepers if you are looking for a fantastic fall drive, our friend Erica Houskeeper at Happy Vermont put together this stellar list of 6 Vermont Fall Drives that we think are totally work taking a look at.

Haunted Happenings at Shelburne Museum

Haunted Happenings at Shelburne Museum

Dress in your halloween best and head to Shelburne Museum for a day of trick-or-treating on the museum grounds. This spooktacular event is great for families that don’t live in traditional neighborhoods (hello most Vermonters!). Bring a stroller or wagon for your little ones as it involves walking between the outdoor buildings at this beautiful museum.

Pumpkin Picking & Corn Mazes

Fall Fun in Vermont

It may not be  time to pick the pumpkins quite yet, but it is time to get lost in acres and acres of corn fields. You know what I am talking about. Those corn mazes are calling your name. There are big ones (like 10 acres) and small ones. Ones that have barnyards and animals to pet. There are evens cornfields that are haunted at night.

Happy Fall!

Posted by missmagpie on 14th August 2014

Music on the Road

I am not a roadie, but I enjoy seeing live music. I will date myself by saying the first concert I ever went to was Foreigner at Madison Square Garden when I was 16.  After that I was hooked. Throughout high school and college I continued to watch bands play their music in huge stadiums and small venues alike. I now live in a town where there is an opportunity to see free music on a weekly basis at some pretty sweet outdoor venues.

Take for example the concerts at Battery Park in Burlington, Vermont. Every Thursday night in July, some pretty fantastic bands come and play, for free, against the backdrop of Lake Champlain. Families, couples and college kids file in with their picnic baskets, blankets, chairs and dogs to watch the sunset over the lake while listening to music.

I used live in Austin, Texas. Talk about a city for live music! If you have an opportunity to travel there head down to South Congress where you will find lots of places to see bands play. Be sure to put the Continental Club on your itinerary. They have been playing live music there since 1957.  Check out The Gallery upstairs, a smaller bar, that doesn’t have a cover charge.

Another reason to travel to this city is for the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) in October. I attended last year. The line up was pretty unbelievable and I was fortunate to have been given a backstage pass. I have to say at a large festival venue like this, it was a great way to see a concert. Nate Reuss from Fun is one heck of performer!

At ACL I also got to see a band from my college days — Depeche Mode. That is the great thing about going to one of these large music festivals. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be buying tickets to a solo concert of theirs at this point, but it was cool to see them in the mix with the other old and new artists.

Just this week while traveling to Jersey Shore I got see another band that brought me back to my time on the campus of University of Delaware. The Indigo Girls were playing at the Ocean City Music Pier. This concert hall from the late 1920s has surprisingly incredible acoustics, which were perfect for showcasing the talents of this harmonizing duo.

I was happy to have a chance to see them, as I had missed them earlier this summer when they were in Burlington at the Flynn Theater. We get some pretty good music coming through the Queen City on a regular basis and the Flynn is an absolutely beautiful place to see it.

My favorite band is U2. I have traveled around the world to see them. I have been to Montreal and as far as Dublin, Ireland.  Have you ever traveled to see a band? 

About

instagram-travel-thursday-IG-picture Instagram Travel Thursday is a hosted weekly blog post collection. It helps to promote great travel around the world. Follow along with the adventures of other expert travel bloggers each week.


Posted by missmagpie on 8th July 2014

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club – For the Kids

Wequasett Resort and Golf Club

I could wax on about the amazing seaside setting of the Wequassett ResortIt is truly spectacular. I could speak to the lavish guest rooms and suites that make this property an award winning member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts — They really are divine. But what I really want to share with you is how welcome your children will be at this hotel, which is a part of Preferred Hotel Group’s Preferred Family program, a collection of more than 260 hotels and resorts around the world that are certified to meet the needs of traveling families and cater to children of all ages. The Wequassett has a style that is completely kid-friendly in a totally unobtrusive way, though adults or couples traveling alone will feel just comfortable here as families do.

Poolside Dinning at Wequassett

The well-trained, international staff are “just so nice” as my 12 year daughter remarked to me less then 24 hours into our stay. Not only are they are happy to serve you and your children lunch poolside, but they come around just often enough to make sure you have fresh water and other refreshments regularly.  Such attentive service is a good thing because we weren’t moving far. The pool lounge chairs were just about the most comfortable I have ever sat on. Think thick, princess-and-the-pea style mattresses, if you know what I mean. Did I mention the complimentary smoothie tastings? Between that and the Lobster Roll from the Pleasant Bay Terrace, we didn’t go too far on the first afternoon we were there.

Wequassett Restaurants

I would be remiss not to mention the other fabulous dinning choices at the Wequassett Resort. Pack your resort casual wear and make a reservation for dinner at Twenty-Eight Atlantic.  The panoramic ocean views alone from this room make a meal here worth it, however the food and service are phenomenal. We ate both breakfast and dinner here.

Good Humor Ice Cream Man

My expectations were exceeded at every turn. Take for for instance the complimentary ice cream, served twice daily, from an old-fashioned ice-cream truck (c. 1950, or so). You will know when the Good Humor Man has arrived because a little guest gets to ring the bell around the pool to alert kids he is there. Every Wednesday is dive-in movie night.  I’d suggest booking an early dinner at the Outer Bar & Grille. Then put on your PJs, grab a blanket and a seat in one of those comfy lounge chairs and you’ll be ready for the show. Popcorn, snow cones and candy are included included!

Dive-In Movie Night

While hotel sits on the small cove of Pleasant Bay, guests can take a complimentary 12 minute boat ride to the outer beach on the ocean. The resort is happy to prepare a picnic lunch, and bring chairs, umbrellas, towels and anything else you might need for a day out with you. Trust me, you won’t be roughing it.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club

While were visiting, it was a little to windy to spend an afternoon out there, however the Captain was happy to take us for a tour around the bay to see the outer beach which also included a stop in Chatham harbor to watch the seals.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club

Accommodation choices are plentiful at the Wequassett Resort. Each one has unique touches that guests will appreciate. We stayed in a cottage style room with two queen beds, a sitting area and a fireplace. Large families or families traveling together will like this style accommodation as all 4 rooms in the building can open up to connect. If you want to splurge, check out the luxurious three-bedroom Round Cove Suite with it’s ocean view, lavish marble bathrooms and modern amenities.

Wequassett Rooms

Things families will love:

  • Tons of pool & beach toys. No need to pack a thing.
  • A mini-bar with no pricing gauging. Everything is sold at cost! So if your child dips in, it won’t cost you a fortune.
  • Free wi-fi. We wish all hotels would follow suit.
  • Complimentary shuttle service to nearby towns like Chatham or Orleans.
  • An unbelievable Children’s Center with an aquatic playground of its own!
  • Kids Fishing Trips and Lobster Trap Tours. Check in with Nauti Jane’s staff when you arrive to arrange one during your stay.

Wequassett Kids

This luxurious coastal resort is open seasonally from April – November.  With so many picturesque views, staff that aims to please and family friendly amenities, I know I won’t hesitate book another stay with my kids at this award winning  Preferred Family Hotel.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club

Disclosure: While I was invited to the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club and they paid for some of my expenses, my review reflects the honest opinions of my experience without outside influence.

Posted by missmagpie on 14th June 2014

Win a Stay at Hotel Vermont This Summer

Hotel Vermont

Have you been dreaming of starting the summer off with a mini vacation? Just a little get away from it all. We’d love to help you make that dream come true by giving one lucky reader a chance to win a stay at the Hotel VermontOur Family stayed here last here last September and loved it! We are confident that your family will dig the comfy beds, their awesome bedtime menu –complete with stories and pjs — and the delicious local food that is being served at their three restaurants – Juniper, Bleu and Hen of the Woods. The mini stay, prize package at Hotel Vermont includes:

  • 1 night at Hotel Vermont
  • 1 queen/double or king trundle room
  • Breakfast for two at Juniper

How to enter

To win, you must be a registered member of FindandGoSeek.net. After becoming member of FindandGoSeek, you must write a review that characterizes your specific experience (good or bad) of any activity or event that you and your family have been to and you will automatically be entered into the drawing to eligible for the Hotel Vermont Giveaway.  The more reviews you write, the more chances you have to win.

Some things to remember about writing reviews on FindandGoSeek. Reviews are your own opinion of a specific place, event or activity. Be objective and truthful.  Tell us how your really feel and why.  Useful reviews are detailed and specific, and give the reader a feel for your experiences.  Think about what kind of information you want you ask a friend or relative to recommend a day camp, pre-school, restaurant, playground or hiking trail for your kids.

Contest Dates

The contest will run from today, June 14, 2014 until Midnight (ET) on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.

Giveaway Restrictions

Accommodations are based upon space availability.
Not valid holiday weekends May – March, UVM Graduation Weekend, VT City Marathon Weekend, August 1 – September 30.
Redeemable by July 1, 2015.
No Cash Value.
Prize is non-transferable

Rules and Guidelines

  • No purchase necessary.
  • Open to those 18 Years of age and older.
  • US and Canadian residents only.
  • Winner is randomly selected.
  • Winner will be notified via email.
  • Additional restrictions may apply.
Posted by missmagpie on 22nd May 2014

5 Things You Must Do in Vermont this Summer

If only it were that simple to narrow it down to just five things! Vermont is like ripe fruit in the summer. For optimal enjoyment everything must be enjoyed while it is at it’s peak.

Burger Night

It is pretty much a given that on most summer evenings in Vermont, folks can enjoy a home grown meal in a field. It is just what we do, and have been doing, long since before the ‘localvore’ movement. On Friday nights the field you are likely to find us in belongs to Bread and Butter Farm where they serve their grass fed beef burgers, buns baked in their bakery and veggies grown on their land. Local bands provide the music and you can bring some chairs if you’d like.

Hike Vermont

Some may argue that Fall is the prettiest time to walk our trails, but I would counter by saying that Vermont shines when the trees are lush with green leaves, the moss is thick underfoot and wildflowers are blossoming all around you. Pack a picnic lunch and try one of the easier trails with your kids like Snake Mountain or the Elmore Fire Tower Trail.

4th of July in Burlington

Technically you should mark July 3rd in your calendar because that is just how Burlington rolls. This is the biggest fireworks show and Independence Day Celebration around. Things get going on the Waterfront around 3:00pm and don’t stop until well after the fireworks display which begins somewhere around 9:30pm. ECHO is Celebrating the Lake with a party that includes dinner, music, face painting, and a killer view of the fireworks.  Locals may tell you that parking and getting out of town is such a hassle it is not worth it.  I say why not book a room at the Hotel Vermont now and save yourself some trouble!

Go Biking

Ok, I don’t mean like around your hood. I am talking about out on the Causeway or on of our other amazing trails. Seriously we have more spectacular scenery here in Vermont then we know what to do with.  Could you get tired of looking at that view?

Fair and Field Days

How much fried dough can you eat? Where I come from they call it funnel cake, but that is really neither here nor there. It all tastes like summer. Your family could probably attend a fair every weekend all summer long if you really wanted to. Starting with the Vermont Dairy Festival the first weekend in June right up until Champlain Valley Fair at the end of August.

 

About

instagram-travel-thursday-IG-picture Instagram Travel Thursday is a hosted weekly blog post collection. It helps to promote great travel around the world. Follow along with the adventures of other expert travel bloggers each week.


Posted by missmagpie on 1st May 2014

Highlights From a Trip to Washington, DC

Three days was barely enough to scratch the surface on a recent trip to Washington, DC with the kids. But we managed to jam in 2-3 things a day, sometimes more. With museums, memorials, government buildings, galleries and other attractions it is easy to be overwhelmed. I know we only got a taste of all that DC has to offer, that is why we will plan another trip. But I feel like we certainly saw plenty and these are some of the things that we loved.

The Air and Space Museum. Visually it is beautiful. There is so much to look at! The planes and rockets are huge and take up most of the wide open spaces. However, the first thing we did when we got there was to the head to the Flight Simulators before the lines got to long.  Although the museum entrance is free, it costs between $6-8 to do this, but as my son said “totally worth it!” I hope so, because it is the closest he is going to get to a 360-degree barrel roll in an F-18.

Family time. Visiting Washington, DC with our kids at this age (12 & 15) gave us a chance to spend quality time with them. At each museum, at each exhibit, we talked. Really talked. They were inquisitive and asked us great questions that led to great conversations that continued over dinner each night. We found ourselves talking about history, politics, and our own beliefs. Every time we travel we grow as individuals and as a family. But this trip opened the door to make connections through education about our nation that we hadn’t had before.

The Newseum. I could have spent all three days here. Fortunately your ticket is good for two days. All of the exhibits are enlightening. In particular, the 9/11 Gallery that documents the day from the journalists point of view, was incredibly moving. The centerpiece of the exhibit is the twisted wreckage of what was once an antenna from one of the towers . There are two movies and an opportunity to read and write your own thoughts about 9/11.

The Capitol. It just so happens that Vermont’s State Senator, Patrick Leahy, is 3rd in line for the Presidency. The President pro tempore office has a nice chunk of real estate over in the Capitol Building. A Corner office, a fireplace (one of only 42 in the building), and spectacular views of the Mall and the Washington Monument. I think this seeing this was a major highlight for us.

National Musuem of American History. Ok, so I am a little obsessed with JFK.  I even took a class in college called the JFK Assassination, and have been studying him ever since. So when it came time to see the The First Ladies dresses, you bet I wanted to see Jackie’s! But the best exhibit we saw here was the Star-Spangled Banner. Next time we sing our National Anthem, it will definitely have an even deeper and more patriotic meaning.


Monuments By Moonlight Tour. When you are only in Washington, DC for 3 days, you’re probably not going to visit all of the monuments.  We opted to see them at night on a tour. We picked up the trolley bus at Union Station around 7:30 just as it was getting dark. Our driver Jamie was excellent. He was knowledgeable and funny telling us historical information as we passed the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and other places around the city.  One of the stops we made was the 7.5 acre FDR Memorial. With waterfalls and pools, it is very much like a park. We are looking forward to going  back to this one in the daytime.

The Lincoln Memorial. I will say that all 19′ feet of him looks even bigger at night when he is all lit up. This is another stop on the Nighttime Tour.  It was worth getting out to look at up close.  No, not to take a selfie of you and President Lincoln, but to read The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address with your children. Also on your way back down, there is a spot on the steps marked where MLK made his famous “I Have Dream” speech.  Pretty cool to stand there and look out at the National Mall from where he stood.

Biking. Wherever we travel we always manage to find hop on bikes. It is a great way to see a lot in a small amount of time. We grabbed these from Capital Bikeshare, but if you are looking to rent kids bikes, tandems or trailers, check out Bike and Roll.

 

 

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instagram-travel-thursday-IG-picture Instagram Travel Thursday is a hosted weekly blog post collection. It helps to promote great travel around the world. Follow along with the adventures of other expert travel bloggers each week.

 

 


Posted by missmagpie on 28th April 2014

Top Tips for Family Travel to Washington, DC

washington dc family travel

Washington, DC has been on my family travel bucket list for several years.  I have just been waiting for the right time to bring the kids. For us, that meant when they were old enough to have the stamina for the kind of vacation that required a lot of walking, a lot of brain power and not a lot of down time. We considered a visit to our Nation’s Capital a fun, yet educational adventure. Not a restful and relaxing vacation.

Don’t Stay too Long – This was our first trip to Washington as a family. We have well traveled, 12 & 15 year old children. Three days was just the right amount of time for us. It was a great age to bring the kids to DC and I wouldn’t have brought them any younger.  They lasted all day without complaints. They appreciated and understood the exhibits — many of which had interactive touch screens or short films. They were patient on the tours and asked lots of intelligent questions of the staff.

Washington DC Family Travel

Have a Plan – I actually had an itinerary. It has taken me a while, but I have finally become a ‘go with the flow’ traveler. The type to discover our destination as it unfolds when we arrive. Not in DC.  That wasn’t going to work. We needed to know where we were going each day because there was so much to see and much of it required advance tour reservations with our Senator or Congressmen or buying tickets on-line.

Tickets and ToursAs soon as you know you are going to Washington write your Senator or Congressmen to request assistance with a tour of The White House, The Supreme Court, The National Archives or The Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Keep in mind, even with advance notice you might not get into the White House especially during the months of March, April or May.  Tours of the Capitol are now done through the new Capitol Visitor’s Center. We were fortunate enough to be able schedule a visit to see Senator Leahy’s President Pro Tempore’s Office. I’m not going to lie, it was cool.

Senator Leahy Office

All of the Smithsonian Museums are free, as are the government buildings.  However you can make online reservations for the National Archives for $1.50, which I would suggest.  We didn’t and therefore did not go because the wait time in line was over an hour long to get in.

Buying tickets to museums and other tours on-line saves you time, and sometimes money.  One of the best things we did was Monuments By Night Moonlight Tour and by purchasing our tickets ahead of time we saved 10%.

Mounuments Tour at Night

Make Dinner Reservations – There is nothing worse than being tired and hungry at the end of a long day. Your kids are not going to want to search for a place to go or wait 30-60 minutes to be seated. Once I had our agenda set, I choose a restaurant that was conveniently located near our last stop. For example, Matchbox is around the corner from the Spy Museum.

Know Your Lunch Options – Not all the museums on the Mall are known for their cuisine.  Although we didn’t eat there, I was told by multiple sources that the National Museum of the American Indian Café has the best food. I can vouch for lunch at the Newseum. It was excellent as far as museum cafeterias go.  It should be. Wolfgang Puck has his name all over it. There are a ton of choices, kids meals and even a salad bar.

Wear Comfortable Shoes – Forgo fashion. You will be doing a lot of walking no matter how you slice it. Those shoes you swear are “comfortable”, aren’t. Sneakers are your best friend on this trip.

Travel and Transportation – We took the train from Vermont to DC. Yes, it is roughly 13 hours each way. Why do it? Because it costs $450 for a family of four by train instead of $1500 to fly.  Bonus: Travel between Vermont and DC on Amtrak and save 20%!

Here is another cost saving tip. Capital Bikeshare has 2500 bikes parked all over the city.  Many of which are on, or near the Mall.  The first 30 minutes are free. Our feet were mighty tired by day 3 and so we hopped on, did a loop around part of the Mall and rode over to the Old Post Office Pavilion in just 27 minutes. FYI there are no ‘kids bikes’ or helmets and my 12-year-old daughter (4’ 11”) was fine while pedaling but had a hard time stopping as her feet didn’t quite touch the ground.

Capital Bikeshare Washington DC

Choose Your Hotel Wisely – No doubt, Washington, DC has lots of great hotel choices. When deciding where our family would stay, we thought about being near a metro, walking distance to restaurants and kid friendly amenities. That is why we chose the Kimpton Rouge. We booked a King Room with Bunk Beds.  This 500 sq foot room is the size of a studio apartment! The curtained off bunk bed nook created 2 separate sleeping areas where the kids even had their own TV and Xbox.

Hotel Rouge Bunk Beds

When traveling, sometimes it is the little things that hotels do that make all the difference in the world. Kimpton does not fall short in the amenity department. Among other things, there are umbrellas and yoga mats in every room.  InTouch Members get free WiFi and $10 to raid the mini-bar. There is coffee each morning and wine each night in the lobby and they have lots of extras for the kids. With eight Kimpton Hotels in Washington, DC, we are sure you will find one to suit your family’s needs.

Did we cover everything? Absolutely not! Will we be back? Most definitely!

Disclosure: While I was invited to the Kimpton Rouge and received a media rate, my review reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.

Posted by missmagpie on 13th April 2014

Win a One-Night Stay at Hotel Vermont

Hotel Vermont

Wouldn’t you love a quick getaway this spring? Who knows how long Mud Season will officially last here in Vermont after the amount of snow we’ve had this season. While you’re waiting for things to dry out, think about a quick getaway to the Hotel Vermont. A stay at this boutique hotel in downtown Burlington will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for summer.  Not only do the rooms have incredibly comfortable beds, their bedtime menu with flannel PJs, Vermont teddy bears, stories and aromatherapy will ensure that you have a good night’s sleep.  Our Family stayed here last here in September and loved it!

FindandGoSeek is giving is offering one lucky reader the chance to stay at the Hotel Vermont! The prize package includes:

  • 1 night at Hotel Vermont
  • 1 queen/double or king trundle room
  • Breakfast for two at Juniper

How to enter

To win, you must be a registered member of FindandGoSeek.net. After becoming member of FindandGoSeek, you must write a review that characterizes your specific experience (good or bad) of any activity or event that you and your family have been to and you will automatically be entered into the drawing to eligible for the Hotel Vermont Giveaway.  The more reviews you write, the more chances you have to win.

Some things to remember about writing reviews on FindandGoSeek. Reviews are your own opinion of a specific place, event or activity. Be objective and truthful.  Tell us how your really feel and why.  Useful reviews are detailed and specific, and give the reader a feel for your experiences.  Think about what kind of information you want you ask a friend or relative to recommend a day camp, pre-school, restaurant, playground or hiking trail for your kids.

Contest Dates

The contest will run from today, April 13, 2014 until Midnight (ET) on Friday, April 18, 2014.

Giveaway Restrictions

Accommodations are based upon space availability.
Not valid holiday weekends May – March, UVM Graduation Weekend, VT City Marathon Weekend, August 1 – September 30.
Redeemable by July 1, 2015.
No Cash Value.
Prize is non-transferable

Rules and Guidelines

  • No purchase necessary.
  • Open to those 18 Years of age and older.
  • US and Canadian residents only.
  • Winner is randomly selected.
  • Winner will be notified via email.
  • Additional restrictions may apply.