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May 2008

May 30, 2008

Go Wild at the Teva Mountain Games

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MUD BATH: Competitor running the gauntlet at the Teva Mountain Games

If you're in the Denver vicinity next week, head 100 miles west to Vail, Colorado, for this year's Teva Mountain Games, which kick off on Thursday, June 5. This four-day celebration of mountain sports, culture, and madness throws amateurs and pros together in a SoBe-fueled frenzy of extreme kayaking, bouldering, climbing, mountain biking, trail running, and other high-adrenaline pursuits. The Games are free to attend, plus it's free to enter the various competitions taking place over the weekend. Other scheduled activities include sport-specific clinics and equipment tryouts, plus a happening roster of parties, concerts, and movies.

In related news, steepcreekers looking for a place to hone those tricks before the big event might want to check out the new whitewater park in Glenwood Springs. The first phase in a $1.4 million project, the newly opened park features a standing wave that kayakers can run during low, medium, and high river flows. There are also learning pools and multiple eddies, upping the interest ante as well as creating places for novice paddlers to practice their skills. Glenwood Springs is 60 miles west of Vail on I-70. Visit for more information.

For on-the-ground dispatches from the Games and a voyeuristic peek into the best après parties, hit up Outside magazine's Teva Mountain Games blog.

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Sites We Like: Discover NYC with Mommy Poppins

There we were yesterday evening, just thinking about knocking off for the day, when we surfed on over to a post on the Mommy Poppins blog about a biannual, little-known celestial event in New York City nicknamed Manhattanhenge (read the post to find out more). Sorry we're late in alerting you about this event, but we've been tuning into Mommy Poppins for a while now and can recommend it for researching everything there is to do with kids in and around the Big Apple. An awesome resource for local parents, it's worth checking out for some invaluable insider tips if you're just a tourist, too. Get the scoop on the best parks and playgrounds, the latest kid-friendly museum exhibits and activities, the best places to eat with kids... not to mention, when Manhattan is doing its next neolithic stone-circle impersonation.

For the big scoop on the biggest attractions in the Big Apple, check out our New York City Family Vacations Guide. And don't forget, New York isn't limited to the five boroughs—stretch beyond Manhattan with's interactive seasonal guide to the Empire State.

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Related Topics: Family Vacation

May 29, 2008

Adventure Finder: Backpacking the American West

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IN DEEP: Wilderness adventure with Big Wild (Howie Wolke/Big Wild Adventures)

GORPtravel logowildflower-filled backcountry in Yellowstone National Park or slickrock canyons of southern Utah's Escalante River. Alternatively, you can customize a trip for friends and family that suits your wildest, frontier-roaming whims. Better still, bring your own gear and save $200 per person on the above adventures. -- Kate Tucker

Visit's new Hiking and Backpacking Guide for inspiration and tips about the best places to lace up the boots and hit the trail!

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Related Topics: Outdoor Adventures · Trip Ideas

May 27, 2008

Family Weekend Fun: Santa Monica BioBlitz

This coming weekend, experience a different slice of 24/7 Los Angeles living by attending the Santa Monica Mountains BioBlitz, a barnstorming 24-hour event to record as many living organisms as possible within the 150,000-acre preserve to the west of the city. From noon to noon on May 30-31, 2008, teams of scientists, naturalists, and volunteers will sweep across the rolling hills and wooded backcountry to document the area's rich biodiversity—more than 450 species of vertebrates call Santa Monica Mountains NRA home, including mountain lions, bobcats, woodpeckers, falcons, salamanders, bullfrogs, and toads. Volunteers can register in person on the day of the event; BioBlitz teams work in four-hour shifts, plus you can choose to join a group searching for a particular species like amphibians or reptiles. Visit the NPS' Santa Monica Mountains NRA website for a program schedule, registration information, as well as directions to the park.

Continue reading "Family Weekend Fun: Santa Monica BioBlitz" »

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Outdoor Adventures

Trip of a Lifetime: Marrakech, Morocco

SOUK ON THAT: Marketplace in Marrakech, Morocco (Digital Vision)

Famed for its ancient beauty and views of sunsets over the snow-capped Atlas range, the exotic oasis of Marrakech has seduced royalty and heads of state the world over. Indeed, Winston Churchill called the city "the loveliest spot on Earth." Churchill stayed at the renowned La Mamounia, a hotel that combines the grandeur of a pasha's palace with sleek art deco design. From here, stroll with the kids over to the main square, Djemaa el Fna, to witness a never-ending circus of storytellers, Berber musicians, spice sellers, and snake charmers. You can also hire a horse-drawn carriage to visit local palaces or shop in the souks for brass, carpets, and silver jewelry. Then there are the city's renowned gardens, where towering palms, rare cacti, and lily ponds are enclosed by cobalt blue or red walls. In the evening, dine at restaurants like Yacout, a 300-year-old palace that serves a six-course feast.

Probably not the first place you'd think of taking young kids, Morocco is a welcoming and kid-friendly society. Marrakech—as with other medieval market towns like Fes—is busy, chaotic, colorful, and wonderfully absorbing. Winter and spring are arguably the best seasons for visiting, although crowds and prices are also high during these popular times. The hot summer months can see the mercury climbing into the triple digits. You can fly directly to Morocco from New York, although cheaper options involve transiting through European hubs like London or Madrid. Marrakech is also the gateway to the mighty Atlas mountains; the UK-based Adventure Company offers several family-focused itineraries that take in the pick of Morocco's souks, mountains, deserts, and historic trading outposts like Marrakech.

Discover hundreds of other dream family destinations, both near and far, in's comprehensive Family Vacations Guide.

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Related Topics: Exotic Escapes · Family Vacation

Top 10 Cheap Beach Vacations

OUTER BOUNDS: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on the Outer Banks, North Carolina (Photodisc)

Head on over to "The Sandbox",'s wave-washed, beach-centric travel blog, for the ten best beach destinations for budget-conscious travelers (listed below):

1. Cannon Beach, Oregon
2. Tulum, Mexico
3. Placencia, Belize
4. Morro de Sao Paulo, Brazil
5. Negril, Jamaica
6. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
7. Cape Ann, Massachusetts
8. Huntington Beach, California
9. Outer Banks, North Carolina
10. Destin, Florida

Don't agree with the destinations on our list? Have your own budget-worthy favorites? Have your say in the comments section below.

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Related Topics: Top 10 Lists

May 21, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom

RINGING ENDORSEMENT: The Liberty Bell, Philadelphia (Joe Sohm/Visions of America)

With school almost out, it's usually monument- and museum-filled Washington, D.C., that garners the lion's share of attention from family travelers seeking their slice of nation-building history. But don't forget about that other East Coast history hot spot, Philadelphia. Home to one of two U.S. Mint facilities open to the public (Denver is the other), families can take an hour-long self-guided tour of this money manufacturing plant. (Unfortunately, they don't give out freebies.) Diagonally across the street is the new home of the Liberty Bell, set in a $12.9 million glass pavilion. This tour is also self-guided and free, but guides are on hand to answer all of the children's questions about that crack. Stay at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel and you can walk to other Old City attractions like Franklin Fountain, an early 20th-century soda shop that makes the best root beer float I've ever had, and Shane's Candies, the oldest continuously operating candy story in America. Save room for dinner at City Tavern. A reconstruction of an 18th-century tavern where Ben Franklin and other Founding Fathers dined, waiters dress up in Colonial garb and serve recipes from that period.

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Related Topics: Dispatches from the Road · Family Vacation

May 19, 2008

Basking in Bermuda

THE TROPICS NEXT DOOR: Jobston Beach, Bermuda (Corbis)

Less than a two-hour flight from New York, the island of Bermuda beckons with its pinks sands, golf greens, and aquamarine waters. May and June are the ideal months to visit this 23-mile speck of land out in the Atlantic, due east of South Carolina. The shops and restaurants that have been closed for winter are back in action. The surge of travelers, many venturing here aboard cruises, has not yet hit its summer peak. And, most importantly, late spring is the driest time of the year, bringing warm sunny days.

May is also Heritage Month, when Bermuda celebrates its culture with art exhibitions at City Hall in Hamilton and the Rose Garden Gallery at the Botanical Gardens in Paget. Every Wednesday afternoon, a different home, like Fairylands in Pembroke or Lovers Lane in Paget, opens up their gardens to the public. With spring in full bloom, expect a colorful array of bougainvillea, hibiscus, and other tropical flowers. The biggest celebration of the month is Bermuda Day (May 24th), when an early afternoon parade winds through Front Street in Hamilton before ending at the Bermuda National Center. Families shouldn't miss the restored Royal Navy Dockyards, either, where swimming with the dolphins is the main attraction. Stay at the sybaritic Fairmont Southampton, with its own private beach and Polynesian waterfall pool.

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Family Vacation

May 16, 2008

Adventure Finder: Rafting Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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WIDE ANGLE: Caribou along Alaska's Hulahula River (courtesy, Arctic Wild)

GORPtravel logoHulahula River, which cuts a magnificent swath through Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Upend your workaday circadian rhythms by floating off into the land of the midnight sun, where you'll share all that solitude with a crew of fellow rafters and the occasional musk oxen, grizzly bear, herd of caribou, or Arctic fox.

With its headwaters high in the Arctic Range, the Class II-III Hulahula flows north past towering peaks and wide open tundra valleys toward the Arctic Ocean; it's an epic journey through some of the most pristine ecosystems and remote wilderness on earth. Arctic Wild, a wilderness guiding company based in Fairbanks, Alaska, does all the hard work for you like packing the gear in the rafts, guiding you safely down the river, and cooking delicious, mostly organic meals under big skies that never seem to fade. All you have to do is bring a few personal items and a great sense of adventure (oh, and maybe some bug repellent—but remember, a million mosquitoes can't be wrong...). Out here you're at the mercy of Mother Nature, not your boss or an upcoming deadline, so be ready for a quick change in weather, a cold splash of water, and some of North America's most magnificent scenery. -- Linda Long

From riotous to lazy, GORPTravel's 2008 Rafting Guide offers a state-by-state guide to the whitewater of the United States, including six wild rivers in Alaska.

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Related Topics: Outdoor Adventures · Trip Ideas

Top 10 Budget Vacations for Families


From the EditorsThe Federal government's economic stimulus package was a rare bipartisan achievement, and now those rebate checks will soon be dropping into mailboxes across the land. So what's a responsible citizen meant to do? Spend of courseâ??and lift the economy out of its credit-crunched blues. But with gas prices soaring and consumer confidence at its lowest ebb, we bring you ten family vacation ideas that won't break the bank and make Uncle Sam's summer windfall stretch even further. Click on the map above to search an interactive Google Map, or click the links below to read more about each of our selections.

1. Washington, D.C.
2. Riviera Maya, Mexico
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. Palm Springs, California
5. Moab, Utah
6. The Black Hills, South Dakota
7. Belize, Central America
8. Western Ireland
9. Negril, Jamaica
10. San Francisco, California

Don't agree with the destinations on our list? Have your own budget-worthy favorites? Have your say in the comments section below.

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Top 10 Lists

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