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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  • El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa, nestled at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Taos, NM, is an environmentally friendly spiritual experience that nurtures the soul. The atmosphere of this resort provides the perfect setting for couples to renew their relationships and grow closer together. It is a place for a spiritual retreat.

    View of Taos Mountain at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort
    View of Taos Mountain at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort

    El Monte Sagrado was developed around a Native American sacred site, The Sacred Circle. A few years ago, my good friend told me about her amazing visit at El Monte and how it will always stay in her heart. I became intrigued and began to plan my own visit, to see if it would suit for a romantic getaway. The resort is hidden from the bustle of Taos, but close enough to visit the shops on foot. There were 32 rooms during my friend’s visit, but they now have 48 new guest rooms and a spa expansion.

    I wrote this a while back, when I visited to help my soul recover from a major surgery. I really enjoyed relaxing in one of the new rooms, which all have a large soaking tub, perfect for couples, an oversized shower, and luxurious bed. The fireplace provides a romantic ambiance and the view from my balcony is phenomenal. The room is decorated with suede, river rocks, and turquoise accents. The room is just made for snuggling. I did take a peep into the casitas and suites, each decorated in their own worldly theme. Some of them have their own private courtyard and hot tub.

    Mountain View Room at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort
    Mountain View Room at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort

    I decided to take a walk around the property before I had a spa treatment. The original rooms are hidden in alcoves built around the Sacred Circle. I felt a pull and stepped over a grassy knoll to sit on a rock near the circle. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, smelling a slight scent of wood burning on the breeze. The golden Aspen leaves fell gently all around me, like a light rain and the trickling of the water was a concerto for my ears. The wind caressed my neck and a deep calm came over me. I can see why many couples choose to bless their vows at this particular spot and why my friend insisted I visit this place.

    Pool at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort
    Pool at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort

    On my walk to the The Living Spa, I stepped into the enclosed pool area, which was similar to a grotto. Guests can swim year ‘round, so if you should plan a visit, be sure to pack a swimsuit. I had previously looked through the spa menu, which offers intriguing and unique specialties. Their special offerings include such treatments as Spiritual Cleansing with Grandmother Jean, The Soul’s Blueprint with Julie Kelly, Egyptian Anointing with Maria Mikhailas, and Trauma Recovery with Terri Picard. These treatments need to be booked in advanced, so keep that in mind. I opted for the Signature High Desert Body Treatment.

    My therapist, Jack, really made me feel comfortable and relaxed for my treatment. I was led to one of the new treatment rooms, a round, Native American style room with a skylight in the wooden ceiling. It reminded me of the kivas of the pueblos. The treatment began with a Zuni salt exfoliation that included a special oil blend of indigenous plants and flowers. The next step was a wrap of volcanic ash mask that draws out the toxins in the body. It was completed by a gentle massage that left me renewed in spirit and mind. I don’t write this lightly, but this was truly the best spa treatment I have ever experienced.

    Pork Loin Entree at El Monte Sagrado in Taos
    Pork Loin Entree at El Monte Sagrado in Taos

    Couples also look for fine dining during their romantic getaways, and El Monte Sagrado covers the cuisine aspect, as well as the spiritual well-being. Chef Ruben Tanuz prepares a menu full of fresh, organic dishes that delight all the senses. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all offer surprises for the visiting couples. The onsite Anaconda Bar is also a favorite with visitors and locals alike. The bar’s mixologist, Jesse, is talented with his libations. Be sure to try Jesse’s Ginger Zen or the signature Kessler Kiss.

    This resort offers so much, that I hardly left the property. Fortunately, local artist Stephen Long offers customized guided tours through the property’s gift shop. He can take couples to Taos Pueblo, escort them around the art galleries, or even bring them to the nearby hot springs hidden in the mountains. Stephen took me to a few notable historic sites, but I was anxious to get back to El Monte and relax on the grounds. I took a quiet walk and noticed a couple sitting at the Sacred Circle, holding hands. Another couple was sitting on their verandah sipping champagne. Even a famous celebrity couple (who shall remain nameless) spent a weekend here and enjoyed a couple’s massage.

    El Monte Sagrado is not inexpensive, but well worth the visit. I would encourage couples looking for that special romantic getaway for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, or anytime for that matter, to make plans to experience a personal couples retreat in the arms of this beautiful and intimate resort

    To learn more about El Monte Sagrado, visit http://elmontesagrado.com. This property is part of the Kessler Collection and The Leading Small Hotels of the World, as well as being a AAA Four Diamond Resort.

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  • I was recently contacted by my high school friend, Kristina, who wants to celebrate her 35th birthday with a Girlfriend Getaway. She lives in Frederick, MD and would like something close enough in case the kids get sick, but far away enough to relax. I did a little research and found out that she is only a 90 minute drive from one of the sweetest places on earth, Hershey, PA and I have two words for Kristina – SPAJAMA PARTY!

    I can’t think of a better place to celebrate 35, because not only do they offer decadent spa treatments and a place for all the girls to hang out, but there’s chocolate to make you feel better. For those of you who participated in GNO or TwitterMoms’ first wine-tasting event, the discussions included talk of chocolate and wine. So I searched around and found that if Kristina and her friends choose Hershey, PA as their destination, then she can include wine tasting at wineries on her route.

    If staying at Hershey Lodge or The Hershey Hotel aren’t your thing, then you can check out BedandBreakfast.com, which offers smaller places to spend a few nights with the girls, drinking some of that wine you picked up along the way and just giggling and visiting in front of a warm fire on a cold January night. Don’t forget to pack the bubbly too.

    This is what I would do:

    • Book one or two nights at The Hershey Hotel or Hershey Lodge.
    • Schedule a Hershey Hug ($220, 2 hrs) Includes a spa rain shower, hydrating body wrap, and 50-minute cocoa massage.
    • Enjoy a fabulous dinner with the girls at the Circular Dining Room.
    • Celebrate with a glass of Champagne, toasting the big 35!
    • And finally, just have a wonderful birthday spajama party. Happy, 35, Kristina!

    Where would YOU suggest Kristina and her friends spend an all-girls birthday celebration?

    Photos courtesy Hershey Entertainment & Resorts.

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  • I recently was able to get my hands on a copy of Walt Disney World with Kids 2009 by Kim Wright Wiley. This Fodor’s guide to Orlando theme parks includes more than just info on Disney, but provides all the information needed to plan and enjoy the vacation of a lifetime.

    It includes time and money saving tips, insider secrets, and scare factors for EVERY ride and venue, including those at Universal Orlando and Seaworld. I brought it around to show a few mom friends, and one gal who is planning a March visit to Disney World with her two year old REFUSED to give it back. She said the guide has answered every question she had about her trip.

    I especially enjoyed the favorite attractions lists for kids of varying ages, the tips for pregnant guests, and suggestions on how to make a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary, event that much more memorable.

    I can confidently say that this guide is one of the ultimate planning tools if you are considering a trip to Orlando. Don’t forget about the Disney Moms Panel for planning and that if you visit Disney World on your birthday, you can get in free! That’s why Walt Disney World for Kids 2009 is On the Move Approved.

    How can you get a copy of your own? This book is available at most book stores, online, and five lucky readers can get their own copy right here! Just leave a comment telling us if you’ve ever been to Disney World, and if you have, please share a tip with our readers. Contest ends at midnight, Tuesday, October 28, 2008. Winners will be announced sometime on Winning Wednesday, October 29.

    Regular TravelingMamas.com rules apply (no relatives, must be US citizen and 18 years old, one entry per email address).

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