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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Ver-Mondays at Stowe – Select Mondays this season you can get a lift ticket at Stowe for just $62!
- Women’s Wild Wednesdays – This one is for Mountain Mamas. On Wednesdays Smuggs offers 1/2 lift tickets plus 50% off full day childcare.
- $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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
I could wax on about the amazing seaside setting of the Wequassett Resort — It 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.