FindandGoSeek's BLOG

Posted by missmagpie on 16th March 2015

Yoga in Tulum

While Tulum is known for weeklong yoga retreats, you may not want to spend your entire vacation bound by scheduled workshops and yoga sessions. I don’t blame you. If you are like me, your daily dose of zen can come from simply relaxing on one of the world’s best beaches.

But say you do want to incorporate a few yoga classes into your holiday, it doesn’t have to come at the steep price a glamorous Wellness Center stay. The beautiful Las Ranitas Eco-Boutique Hotel offers daily yoga classes for guests and visitors. You can explore your practice for just $15/USD while sunlight streams through floor-to-ceiling windows in this stunning studio.

Located at the far end of the hotel zone and tucked into the jungle, you will find this impressive yoga studio. Yogis of all levels meet at 10:30am daily for a hatha and vinyasa flow class. Don’t worry if you forgot to bring your own mat, they have plenty. There are also blocks, straps and a water cooler to refill your bottle. You just need to show up ready to meditate and then get down to business.

Victor Varana begins each class with percussion drumming, a mantra, chanting and singing. After you come out of that transformative state, he will guide you through 90-minutes of beginner to advanced yoga poses. While you are in downward dog, Victor doesn’t hesitate to walk over and readjust your hips so that you get the most out of the stretch. If you find a certain sequence of poses to difficult, as I did, don’t be overwhelmed just do what you can and make the class what you want it to be. You will leave this class feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to enjoy the rest of your trip.

Note: Las Ranitas is undergoing a major renovation and will re-open in early 2016. In the meantime you can find classes with Victor Varana here.

You can find more about vacationing in Tulum, Mexico here.

Posted by missmagpie on 6th February 2015

Win A Stay at Hotel Vermont

Hotel-Vermont

No one knows Vermont better than you! Our FindandGoSeek readers are out there daily eating in local restaurants, taking swim lessons, putting their kids in ski programs, going to story time, open gym and pretty much accomplishing more than we could ever do. We need you to tell us what you’ve been doing lately with your family and in return we will say thank you by entering you into a drawing for a one-night stay at the Hotel Vermont.

Enter To Win

Parents everywhere want to hear what is great (or not so great) in Vermont for kids. Enter to win by finding the listing or event your family has been to and then write your review. Now you’re entered–it’s that easy!

Writing A Review

Some things to remember about writing reviews on FindandGoSeek. Reviews are your own opinion of a specific place, event or activity. Please objective and truthful, telling us how you really feel and why. Keep in mind that useful reviews are detailed and specific, and give the reader a feel for your experiences. Think about what kind of information you would want to know when you ask a friend to recommend a day camp, pre-school, restaurant, dance class or pediatrician for your kids.

Contest Rules

  • No Purchase Necessary.
  • To enter the drawing write a review that characterizes your specific experience (good or bad). Accepted reviews are automatically entered into the random drawing.
  • Multiple entries will be accepted. One review will count as one entry into the drawing, multiple reviews may be submitted and will count as multiple entries.
  • Prize winner will be decided by a random, computer-generated selection from the entries received during the promotion period.
  • Winner will be notified by FindandGoSeek via email. Failure to respond within 72 hours will result in forfeiture of the prize and an alternate winner will be selected.
  • All entries and copyright in them automatically become the property of FindandGoSeek.
  • The prize:  1 night stay at Hotel Vermont it has these restrictions:
    • Good for 1 queen/double or king trundle room.
    • Accommodations are based upon space availability.
    • Not valid holidays, special event weekends, or Saturday stays between May – October.
    • Redeemable by June 12, 2015.
    • No Cash Value.
    • Prize is non-transferable
  • Contest ends February 12, 2015 at midnight.
Posted by missmagpie on 2nd February 2015

Embracing the Vermont Staycation

Vermont Staycation

I doubt there are many parents who can claim they have explored all of Vermont. Imagine not having lost luggage or flight cancellations due to weather. You won’t need to travel long distances or buy expensive plane tickets either. A Vermont Staycation gives you more flexibility, less hassles and in the end saves you time and money that is will be well spent with your family. You could put your kids in a vacation week camp (some even have single day options) or use February break as an opportunity to check a few of these items off your Vermont bucket list.

Museums – For a small state, Vermont certainly has a lot of museums. There are museums dedicated to farming, maple syrup, fly fishing and railroads. We even have a children’s museum that is set to re-open in it’s new space this month.

Bowling – You are not likely to strike out by spending an afternoon at a bowling alley. Many of them have become a destination including arcade rooms and laser tag.

Family Fun Centers – What is your family into? Pinball? Sports? Roller Skating? Vermont has lots of entertainment centers where you can do them all. If you haven’t been, check out Tilt or Gonzos HD Sports.

Rock Climbing – How about getting a family day pass to an indoor climbing center? Kids as young as 5 can do it.

Skating – Kids of all ages love to ice skate. Find an outdoor skating rink, pack a thermos of hot chocolate and some snacks and call it an adventure. Too cold for you? Most indoor rinks offer daily public skate times.

Indoor Pools & Waterparks – There are plenty of pools where the kids can splash around all day long. Or plan a trip to stay and play at of the waterparks.

Zip Line – I know winter zip-lining probably isn’t the first thing to come to your mind, but we’ve done the ArborTrek at Smuggs’ and it is so fun! You could even book a mini stay at Smuggler’s Notch. Aside from skiing you can then take advantage of their off-mountain activities like the fun zone, indoor water-park style pools and tubing. Feel like your kids are too little? Think again, they have a fantastic day care that takes kids as early as 6 weeks!

Roadtrip

When is the last time you went to Woodstock or Quechee? We’ve been to both. In Quechee we stayed in a very affordable resort that has 2- 3 bedroom suites and a huge pool. It is nearby to the Montshire Museum, Simon Pearce, VINS, the Harpoon Brewery and more. We visited Woodstock primarily so that we could ski at nearby Suicide Six. The Woodstock Inn offers ski & stay packages with complimentary lift tickets.

Booking an overnight stay in a hotel can really make you feel like you are on vacation, even if it is in your home state. Vermont has so many amazing properties it will probably be hard to choose! Be sure to ask if they have a VT resident discount and utilize the concierge to help make the most of your stay.

Ok, I know I said you should explore Vermont, but in under two hours you can be in another country! Montreal is so close and no planes are involved. Check out some of these helpful tips to plan an day or overnight trip there.

Check out the events calendar too! We have packed it with fun things for the week. Let us know how you are going to create a memorable school break for your kids.

 

Photo Credit: James Walsh, Flickr Commons 

Posted by missmagpie on 30th December 2014

5 Family-Friendly New Years Celebrations in Vermont

New Year's Eve Vermont

Kids want to ring in the New Year just as much as their parents do. There are plenty of Vermont venues that are family-friendly and welcome all to party like it is 2015. From Noon-Year Parties to First Nights there is something for everyone this year. Remember to check each celebration to see if you need to sign-up in advance or buy tickets. This New Years Eve is sure to be one to remember.

New Year’s Eve Events

Free Classes at Flynn Arts Center – During First Night Burlington, FlynnArts opens their children’s classes to anyone who has ever wondered what their classes might be like. Try Family Dance, Family Music Together, Breakdancing and more.

Noon-year Party @ Milton Public Library – For little ones ages 3-7 who might not make it up until midnight, celebrate at the library with games, crafts, cake and treats.

Countdown to Noon-Year @ Ilsley Public Library - This celebration is for all young children in Middlebury who won’t be awake when the ball drops. They are looking for older kids to volunteer with crafts and face painting.

New Years Eve Fireworks and Skating @ Memorial Sports Center – Fireworks will begin at 7:30pm at the Middlebury Recreation Field. After the fireworks head over to Memorial Sport Center for free Ice Skating from 8:00 – 9:30pm.

New Years Eve Montpelier – This town wide extravaganza has it all! Marko the Magician will be performing two shows. There will be early fireworks from the State House Lawn and a huge party at City Hall.

Be sure to check our calendar for other New Years Eve Celebrations, fireworks displays and torch light parades.

Posted by missmagpie on 15th December 2014

7 Ski Deals in Vermont

Skiing in Vermont

 

From the way it is looking so far, it is going to be a great year to ski and ride in Vermont! Thanks to record snowfalls in December, our ski resorts are boasting some of the best, early season conditions in a long time.  It is all the more reason for your family to get out there! You might already know that many resorts offer significant savings (up to 30% off) if you purchase your tickets on-line before you go, but we have rounded up some extra deals and steals that should make it a bit easier on your wallet this year.

Ski Deals

  1. Youth Pay Their Age Day – Kids 18 and under pay their age on January 4, 2015 at Mount Snow. If your kid is 12 then their full day lift ticket is only $12.
  2. Free Nordic Trails Day – On January 10, 2015 you can learn to cross country ski free of charge at places like Bolton, Blueberry Lake, Smugglers Notch, Jay Peak and more.
  3. Town Meeting Day Special – Vermont high school, middle school and elementary school students ski free on March 3, 2015 at Mad River Glen. Also keep your eye out for Roll Back the Clock day too, when lift tickets are just $3.50!
  4. Ski and Ride for $29 – January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month. Beginners can get a lesson, rental equipment and a full day lift ticket at 13 ski resorts. You must sign-up in advance.
  5. Ver-Mondays at Stowe – Select Mondays this season you can get a lift ticket at Stowe for just $62!
  6. Women’s Wild Wednesdays – This one is for Mountain Mamas. On Wednesdays Smuggs offers 1/2 lift tickets plus 50% off full day childcare.
  7. $30 Thursdays – Every Thursday you can ski Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush for just $30 bucks.

Other Ways to Save

Check out the Vermont Travel Card. For just $49 you will enjoy serious savings at 11 Vermont Ski Resorts.  How would you like to pay $67 for a lift ticket at Stowe instead of $108? We learned about this great deal when we joined the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum. Not only did we get a bunch of 2-for-1 lift tickets at ski resorts like Jay Peak, Stratton, Burke and Mount Snow, but we got a 2-for-1 Vermont Travel Card too.

Family Friendly Tip: Be sure to follow along with the All Mountain Mamas - Vermont’s Only Family Ski & Ride Guide this season. We are delivering the latest and greatest for families as they navigate the ski slopes of Vermont.

 

Posted by missmagpie on 11th December 2014

The Gift of Travel

The Gift of Travel

I recently sat down with Nathaniel Boyle of the Daily Travel Podcast to talk about how my Grandmother and my family gave me the gift of travel from a young age. When I was 11 my Grandmother invited me along on a business trip to Greece. Lucky kid, I know, and after that I was hooked. Travel became an integral part of my life. It inspired me to get out there and see the world. I was fortunate enough to continue to travel with my Grandma throughout my life, even well into her 90s. Amazingly we just set sail from Venice this summer on her 96th birthday!

We discussed my biggest travel regret. No deliberation there – not studying abroad. Seriously I was an International Relations major, how did I mess that up? You can bet I will encourage my children not to make the same mistake. I mean after all the places they’ve been to at this point how could they not want to go?

Be sure to check out Nathaniel’s travel resource list. In my interview he asked me for a few of my faves – best piece of travel gear (can you guess?), my secret money saving travel tips (doesn’t everyone want to know?), my favorite internet travel tool (it was hard to pick one), my worst travel mishap (involves a cruise ship and insurance) and more.

Nathaniel asked me how and why I got into travel blogging. It all started here in Vermont. Then I had a chance to talk about what makes Vermont so special and why it’s people so awesome. So give it a listen if you are so inclined.

Podcast with Nathaniel

 

Posted by missmagpie on 1st December 2014

Passports with Purpose 2014

pwp_logo_w_tag

What is Passports with Purpose?

Passports with Purpose is an annual travel blogger fundraiser. Each year Passports with Purpose chooses a charity that will do long-lasting good for communities in places that travelers visit. They have built schools in Cambodia and Mali, libraries in Zambia and an entire village in India! In order to do make this happen, numerous travel bloggers get together and donate awesome prizes to this giveaway  — luxury hotel stays, travel gear, guided tours and more!

Who Will Benefit from the Fundraiser this Year?

Families and children like these cuties. The Passports with Purpose Board carefully selected Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) as the charity of choice this year. SHI does some incredible work. They believe in giving a hand-up, rather than a hand-out. Families learn how to plant organic vegetable gardens, fruit trees, as well as build fishponds and chicken coops, all while protecting the environment. And guess what? When families have the seeds, materials and training to grow their own food, malnutrition rates go down. Sustainable Harvest International can help one family for five years with every $5,000 raised.

Sustainable Harvest International

What and Why is FindandGoSeek donating?

Vermonters can totally relate to eating food that grows from their own land! We have no shortage of Farmer’s Markets that’s for sure. Lots of people here join a CSA share each year with a local farm. Our restaurants and chefs pair up with local Vermont farmers and food producers via the Vermont Fresh Network and at last count the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) had a list 578 certified organic farmers in our small state! So yeah, I’d say we are into sustainable agriculture here too.

We are thrilled to partner with Hotel Vermont to donate a one night stay + breakfast for two at Juniper. Not only does this hotel partner with so many local companies to provide a true Vermont experience while you stay there, their restaurants source local ingredients as well. We think this is a perfect match!

Win

Did you know the Hotel Vermont was just named one of the 12 Best New Hotels in the world by Conde Nast Traveler? It is a well earned award. They’ve gone all out when it comes to wrapping local and luxury into one.

How Does it Work and Where Can I donate?

Basically you give, they get and you are entered to win! Each $10 donation that you make is a chance to win a fabulous prize.

  • Donors make a tax deductible donation in increments of $10.
  • For each $10 you donate, you are entered to win the prize of your choice.
  • Donations will be accepted from December 1-17, 2014.
  • Winners will be randomly selected and notified via email on December 21, 2014.

The Details

You might have a few questions about donations, how they choose which non-profit to fund or even how to get involved next year.  You will find all that information right here.

Also you should know if you win our prize for the one night stay at Hotel Vermont it has these restrictions:

  • Good for 1 queen/double or king trundle room.
  • Accommodations are based upon space availability.
  • Not valid holiday weekends May – March, University of Vermont Graduation Weekend, VT City Marathon Weekend, August 1 – September 30.
  • Redeemable by July 1, 2015.
  • No Cash Value.
  • Prize is non-transferable

All of this wouldn’t be possible without the incredible Passports with Purpose team and our sponsors TBEX and HomeAway – Thank you!

Please join us and check out the Passports for Purpose Prize Catalogue for this awesome cause today!

Posted by missmagpie on 24th October 2014

Travel to Vermont

I recently sat down with Chris Christensen of Amateur Traveler to chat about all things Vermont! In this podcast we travel from Burlington to Shelburne to Stowe and back again. I give suggestions for day trips, places to stay and things to do. I cover what might surprise you if you visit Vermont and some of my favorite places to visit. We discuss cheddar cheese and other local treats.  Chris threw out the ultimate challenge – Vermont or New Hampshire Maple Syrup?! I sure hope he was kidding.

If you are headed to Vermont, or already live here but want to explore more, I invite you to listen as we cover the Green Mountain State.

Amateur Traveler Episode 440 – Travel to Vermont

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.