Family Vacations

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Sometimes the prospect of travel with the kids is a concern. So why not consider locations that both the adults and young ones can enjoy equally?

Many hotels and resorts are positioned with the entire family in mind. Take for instance, the Beverly Garland Hotel located in Universal City, Calif. It is managed by Holiday Inn and they offer families standard rooms for the adults along with Kids Suites. These rooms offer a living area with a king size bed and a separate area with bunk beds, a flat-screen TV and a small desk for children. Parents will enjoy the extra privacy that these rooms offer, as well as the extra space. The rooms also have a balcony, so that parents can have even more privacy.

The Beverly Garland Hotel is tucked away below the foothills of the Hollywood Hills with convenient access to Universal Studios, Universal City Walk, the Hollywood Bowl, the Kodak Theatre, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with the movie stars hand and foot prints in cement in the front foyer and the Hollywood Walk of Fame and more.

The property is also close to the Metrorail taking you to Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and the mid-Wilshire area. It also provides free shuttle service to the theme parks. I understand the rates are moderate.

Not far away is Orange County, which offers Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. These theme parks are fun for all.

Another interesting location for the entire family is the Crescent City: New Orleans. Mardi Gras happens in February, but any time is good to visit this special city. Here, you want to cross the Mississippi River and see Mardi Gras World, the state’s biggest warehouse and festival float builder. Visitors can see and try on elaborate costumes and masks as well as take in the enormous sculptures used in celebrations past.

Not far away are the Audubon Insectarium, the Aquarium and the New Orleans Zoo.

Adults and kids alike will be intrigued by the mysterious ambience of New Orleans’ many voodoo shops, cemetery tours and walking jaunts, including Haunted History Tours, and Haunted History Ghost Tours of the French Quarter.

Many films were produced here and you will recognize some of the locations as you walk.

Jazz is always fun for the entire family and you can enjoy this music at various locations. It will be advertised in the local press.

A walk down famous Bourbon Street will treat you to interesting shops that include souvenirs, ice cream and candy stores, magic stores and so much more.

You might also be interested in taking a day’s trip on a paddle wheel steamer up the Mississippi river. The kids will love this and so will you.

There are some restaurants we can recommend and they are: Brennan’s, a 65-year-old institution serving a table-groaning three-course breakfast complete with flaming bananas Foster, 417 Royal Street; Café du Monde is popular for powdered sugar-topped beignets and piping hot chocolate, 800 Decatur Street; Delmonico’s is known for house-cured salami and cheeses and the kids will love the pizzas, 123 Baronne Street; The Red Fish Grill is the home for Louisiana’s seafood in all forms from soups to salads and sandwiches, 115 Bourbon Street.

Walking is the best way to see the French Quarter and be sure to see Jackson Square.

Where to stay? A couple suggestions would include the New Orleans Marriott at 555 Canal Street, phone (504) 581-1000 or the Staybridge Suites, 501 Tchoupitoulas Street, phone (504) 571-1818.

Orlando must be mentioned here because it is another great place for young and old alike. Disneyworld is here as well as the Universal Theme Park and other selected parks. I suggest you stay at one of the Disney themed hotels for the kid’s sake. Check the Internet for the best prices when you wish to go. Like airline fares, they are ever changing up and down.

You can’t miss with Hawaii. It’s all things to all people. The young ones will thrill to every day at one of the beaches on any one of the four islands you may choose. Disney has opened a newly renovated resort hotel in Hawaii and it is currently offering savings on packages there. You need to check them out on the Internet for current prices. Their packages include quite a lot of thrills for the kids and will give you time for yourselves.

If you have older teens that are into surfing, consider the Turtle Bay Resort situated on Oahu’s North Shore. This is near where the big waves come in and the young ones will get a thrill out of trying these. The property covers over 800 acres of green and it has also been re-branded. They get quite a lot of wind on this side of the island, so be aware.

The Island of Kauai is known as the Garden Island and is very lush and beautiful. Major hotel chains have properties here. It is quiet and offers wonderful beaches, plus great sightseeing possibilities. It even has a canyon similar to our Grand Canyon. Here, there is great fishing, ziplining, ATV adventures, golf and helicopter and boat tours. Wherever you visit on the Hawaiian Islands you want to rent a car. The rental rates are generally modest compared to other locations.

Maui should also be considered. Again, perfect beaches, great resorts and hotels and you can drive up to a volcano one day for lunch.

Oahu is where all the action is. If you and the young ones want this, Waikiki is the place to land. Many fine hotels are located here. You can also take in a Pearl Harbor Tour and another day circumnavigate the island by car. There are several wonderful places to stop and photograph and to relax at on this island tour.

Also, while on Oahu, visit Chinatown in downtown Honolulu to see noodle stores, markets, gift shops and lei stands.

Hawaiian culture is on display at the Kuhio Beach Torch Lighting and Hula Show several evenings a week at sunset near the Duke Kahanamoku statue.

And, drive up the scenic Pali Highway just out of Honolulu and stop at Nu’uanu Pali lookout for photographs. You can visit pineapple plantations and more on the other side of Oahu.

You and the family may wish to do some hiking. One area is Diamond Head overlooking Waikiki Beach.

The Caribbean is also great for weather and wonderful resorts. However, I am going to recommend cruising this area. You fly to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, board your ship and spend at least seven days visiting several islands. Several cruise lines have great programs for kids and teenagers. These include Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Disney Cruises operate out of Port Canaveral, Fla. to the Caribbean.

Disney is now also operating ships to Mexico and Alaska from the west coast. They provide the best young people’s programs and adults can be left alone to enjoy your cruise.

There are several tour companies that offer programs for teens: Adventures by Disney, Austin-Lehman Adventures, Collette Vacations, Globus Family of Brands, Tauck Bridges and Trafalgar. All are respected tour operators and you may obtain brochures from them by requesting on the Internet.

Please have a wonderful family vacation. You will all get to know one another a little bit better.

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