Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Park City, Utah, is a year round destination that is home to the ever popular Sundance Film Festival. This is an upscale community with a rustic feel. It is popular with celebrities, especially during ski season. Here are some top things to do while you’re in Park City.

    Historic Main Street in Park City - Flickr image by ckelly

    Historic Main Street in Park City - Flickr image by ckelly

    1. The Sundance Film Festival – Everyone has heard of Sundance and this is the film festival where many independent films get noticed. Robert Redford’s annual event is a favorite of locals and visitors. It is held each year during the second half of January.

    2. Hot Air Balloon Ride – This has to be the absolute best way to start a morning. Get a bird’s eye view of Park City while enjoying a continental breakfast and a glass of Champagne. You’ll even get a flight certificate commemorating the event.

    3. Bobsledding – If weren’t already familiar with this Olympic Winter Sport, then maybe you’ve seen Disney’s Cool Running, featuring the story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team. Yup. You read that right. Jamaican Bobsled Team. This attraction is open to the public, and yes, I’ve tried it out. It was an exhilarating experience at this site of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The 75-mph ride shouldn’t be missed.

    4. Skiing and Snowboarding – Park City is home to three world-class ski resorts: The Canyons Resort, Park City Mountain Resort, and Deer Valley Resort. Deer Valley is for skiers only, but The Canyons and Park City Mountain Resorts welcome skiers and snowboarders. The over 9,000 acres of snow in Park City welcomes beginner and expert runs.

    5. Shopping – Park City is full of boutiques and eclectic little shops for when you want to take a break from all the outdoor activities. There are eight shopping districts to choose from for those with varying interests.

    6. Dining – There are more than 100 bars and restaurants to choose from, with a variety culinary choices from around the world. I recommend Morning Ray Café for breakfast, lunch at the mid-mountain Red Pine Restaurant in The Canyons Resort, and an upscale dinner at any of Main Street’s award winning establishments.

    7. Nightlife – The après ski party scene in Park City is funky and fun. There are wine tastings to be found, dance clubs, and jazz bars. Whatever your poison, it can be found in Park City.

    Park City isn’t just a winter destination. The Sundance Film Festival may bring in the celebrities, but the summer months are when families can enjoy hiking and biking and even a few bargains. Don’t forget to use the FREE transit system to get around Park City. Check out the routes and schedules for this biodeisel fueled transportation at Park City’s Official Visitor’s Site. For ski information in Park City and the rest of Utah, visit SkiUtah.com.

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  • At TravelingMamas.com we love to travel the globe searching for the best family friendly destinations, romantic escapes, and places for those girlfriend getaways. One destination that offers all three is The Florida Keys. Here are a few of the family friendly lodging choices we found for our readers.

    The beach at Cheeca Lodge by Shannon Hurst Lane

    The beach at Cheeca Lodge by Shannon Hurst Lane

    Cheeca Lodge, Islamorada – Little CajunMama and I checked out this place on a mother-daughter trip. You can read about our experience at this family friendly resort and LCMs take on Camp Cheeca. We also made a video/slideshow of our stay.

    Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort – I checked this place out solo to see if it met with our Traveling Mamas standards. The beach is definitely family friendly for even the littlest ones. These townhouse-style beach houses are perfect for families wanting to stay in one spot for their vacation. Each unit offers a kitchen, eliminating the need to leave the property during your stay. However, if cooking isn’t on your agenda, the beach bar and property restaurant is convenient and offers a wide variety on their menu. Two pools, one for families and an adult-only pool, is smart for a property to offer. I personally enjoyed the balcony of my oceanview unit and looked forward to evenings sipping wine and looking at the stars.

    CajunMama finding Nirvana at Tranquility Bay Resort

    CajunMama finding Nirvana at Tranquility Bay Resort

    Sunset Key Island by Shannon Hurst Lane

    Sunset Key Island by Shannon Hurst Lane

    Sunset Key Island – This 27-acre luxury resort property has residential and resort units. One site is private, for residents. The other side offers the cutest little beach bungalows, some beachfront and others on the interior of island. If I was kid again, I would love spending a few days here playing in the sand. This property is a little pricey due to the location and atmosphere. There are tennis courts and other recreational opportunities on this getaway island, and during school holidays, group activities for kids are scheduled. The onsite gift shop is very pricey (Flipflops $50) but Latitudes Beach Cafe (onsite restaurant) offered some of the best French Toast I’ve ever eaten. Visitors are transported to and from the island from the dock at the Westin Key West Resort.

    Stuffed French Toast at Latitudes Beach Cafe on Sunset Key Island

    Stuffed French Toast at Latitudes Beach Cafe on Sunset Key Island

    The Florida Keys offers a variety of attractions and activities for families. There are so many places to see and so many things to do that you just might have to plan multiple visits. Be sure to check out our Top 10 Family Activities in Key West.

    Note: Key West and the Florida Keys are luxury family destinations and not inexpensive. While there may be some cheaper lodging choices in the Florida Keys area, they may not be family-friendly..

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  • January is the time when people look back at the past year and make resolutions for the year ahead. This day last year, we loaded our first post on a WordPress.com travel blog. We started TravelingMamas.com with a few dollars and a little bit of common sense (we trademarked the name). Along the way – 438 blog posts later – we’ve grown into what you see today.

    Each of us feels blessed to have TravelingMamas.com as a fun and rewarding outlet. We four have full editorial control of what content we feature, and our goal has always been to help mothers and travel researchers find useful and practical information to plan how to spend their hard-earned money.

    Over the last week, we all dug through our old photos, emailing to each other and laughing at how goofy we all look (may perms never come back in style). We recalled our times together on trips, and now we are planning our next getaway so we can all bond in person! Hawaii last May was truly magical.

    Here’s a little reflection of our first year that gives a brief background on how we came to this moment. Thanks for sticking around through our first year; we really appreciate the support. We absolutely love hearing from readers, and making connections with other travel bloggers and travel-industry folks means the world to us! We look forward to seeing what 2009 will bring for the Traveling Mamas. Onward and upward!

    If you can’t see the video, here’s the direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5UboFwF2AQ

    And Mamas – I MISS YOU! Thanks for making 2008 a rocking year of travel blogging. Here’s to 2009 and the Year of the Traveling Mamas. I hope ALL mamas out there start planning their travels now, both with their families and their mama friends.

    Like the music? The song featured is Everything I Need by Chris Michols. His entire album can be downloaded for free at ChrisMichols.com.

    And special thanks to Terry Shibao of Digital Imaging Plus, who took the great photos of us at the Westin Maui.

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  • Mardi Gras season is the time leading up to the day of Mardi Gras. Various cities and towns (New Orleans, Mobile, Key West) hold Mardi Gras parades, most of which are (honestly!) family friendly. Here are my Top 6 tips to help the entire family have a safe and enjoyable Mardi Gras parade experience.

    Pack the Snacks – There are some restaurants that are open on Mardi Gras Day, but do you really want to try and brave it with kids? They get whiny when tired and hungry, and let’s face it, catching all those throws is a tiring experience. Bring along a small ice chest filled with drinks and snacks for the entire family. Tip: My family is partial to rolling ice chests, because not only are they easier to maneuver, but at least two behinds can use it as a bench while waiting. I recommend these rolling ice chests.

    Prepare for the Weather – Pack the sunscreen. It might be February, but in the Southern regions the sun can shine brightly like a warm spring day. Skin that hasn’t seen the sun for a while can turn red as a freshly boiled crawfish while waiting for the parades. Also, one can’t always predict a rain shower, so bringing along a few rain ponchos is a good idea. I wouldn’t recommend an umbrella, because it can be cumbersome in the crowds with your hands full. Tip: A disposable poncho can easily fit in your pocket.

    Talk Safety – Arrive early so that your family can beat the larger crowds. I write my cell phone number on my children’s arms in permanent marker. Yes, permanent marker. What if it rains? You don’t want the number to wash away. Also, have a designated location in case the family is separated, and point out police officers to your children so they know to go to law enforcement in case they forget your designated spot. Tip: Be sure to discuss the rules of Mardi Gras and float safety. Each year, injuries occur from children running around near the floats while they pass by. Don’t ever let them get too close.

    Stay on the Parade Route – Usually designated parade routes are the safest place for a family to be. If you wander off the regular route, your family just might encounter a few things that aren’t meant for little eyes to see. Tip: Check with your local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to find the family-friendly parade routes. New Orleans French Quarter and Canal Street is no place for kids during Mardi Gras and should be avoided during Carnival season.

    Sport some Mardi Gras Fashion – This is a fun time for everyone, so let the kids dress up in costumes. Be sure everyone wears comfortable shoes (preferably waterproof) because there will be lots of walking. Masks can be worn, however they might obstruct your vision or that of your child’s, so don’t wear them until you reach your place on the route. Face painting is acceptable and also popular. Layer clothing as the weather in the southern US is unpredictable.

    Share the Mardi Gras Story – Be sure to teach your children about the history of Mardi Gras and how the Carnival Season came to be. It is actually a religious time of indulgence before the Catholic period of Lent. Mardi Gras translates to Fat Tuesday and there is a meaning behind each aspect of the festival. There is history behind the colors, the meaning of a Kings Cake, doubloons, throws, and the costumes. Tip: Be sure to carry heavy duty bags to bring home all those throws.

    Mardi Gras is a time for fun and enjoyment, but even experienced parade-goers can benefit from these Top Tips. No matter if you are in New Orleans or Mobile, have a great time and make some fun family memories!

    Family Travel Tips on raveable

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  • Alan Rider, a traveling dad, shares with TravelingMamas.com an inside look at his inspiring site, XTRORD.com and how it came to fruition. He and his wife of 16 years are the parents of Sky, a 10-year-old adventure lover like his dad. They reside in a really small town in northern California.

    Paragliding over the Pacific/La Jolla, CA Copyright Alan Rider
    Paragliding over the Pacific/La Jolla, CA Copyright Alan Rider

    Have you taken your family with you on your travels?
    I’ve been fortunate to be able to take both my wife and son on many of my work trips over the years. But Sky and I just had our first real father-son trip a couple of months ago — to an American Le Mans Series sports car race at the historic Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, CA.

    Besides spending quality time with your son, what else made it memorable?
    Going in I thought he’d be all excited to see (and hear) these million-dollar race cars up close, as he has a ton of toy versions. But when we got home and his mom asked him what his favorite part of the event was, Sky told her “We had ice cream bars at the race track!” Gotta love 10-year-olds!

    How does your family feel when you travel solo?
    I typically fly over 100,000 miles a year so we’re all kind of used to it. That said, I do try and minimize the impact by making my solo trips as short as possible — I’ve been known to fly across the country and back in 48 hours to do a story!

    Recording our parts in The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd Copyright Alan Rider

    Recording our parts in The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd Copyright Alan Rider

    How do you make things easier when you are away?
    Unless I’m in some remote jungle, I’m pretty fanatical about calling home twice a day to check in. I think it helps all of us feel more connected.

    How did you come up with the idea of Xtrord.com? What is the purpose behind it?
    As a former disc jockey and long-time travel writer and magazine editor, I’ve been fortunate to have had an awful lot of really cool adventures over the years. With that background, I eventually got tired of reading stories on the same old tired vacation destinations and activities. So I launched XTRORD.com, the world’s first guide to truly “extraordinary experiences.” Of course, there’s something deeper going on here too, namely the deeply-held belief I gained from a near-fatal motorcycle crash that life was meant to be lived to the fullest. And that’s the real purpose behind the website — to encourage and inspire people to go out and do all those things they’ve always wanted to do.

    How do you define “extraordinary experiences”?
    Good question. The experiences we feature run the gamut from unique to quirky to downright mind-blowing. We’re talking real once-in-a-lifetime adventures here, things it’s pretty much impossible to walk away from going “Yeah, I guess that was sorta okay…”

    The definition of an “extraordinary experience” also has two other important aspects. First is “doability” — specifically, is this something an average person can do? The second is “affordability” — is this something someone of ordinary means could afford? The point here is that having a truly extraordinary experience is no longer limited to the supremely physically fit or the super-wealthy. There are tons of experiences on the website that your kids or your grandmother could do equally well. And even if it means you have to start a simple exercise program or save your pennies for a couple of years to make it happen, well, that seems like a small price to pay to live out your dreams.

    Thanks, Alan, for sharing a little of your life with our readers. That’s what we’re all about at TravelingMamas.com: Inspiring You to Explore. If you have a unique experience to share with Alan, he can be reached at info at XTRORD.com.

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