Travels in and around Sacramento, California

California tourists know big city names like Sacramento, but a visit to Northern California offers more than one opportunity to enjoy the area. A great place for a classic road trip, Camino, Coloma, Columbia, Jamestown, Placerville, Sonora, and  Tuolumne County are full of attractions just around the next bend in the road.

Sacramento

Sacramento is one of California’s largest cities and full of family friendly attractions. Museums dedicated to such topics as transportation, art, and history can all be found here along with shops, restaurants, and “Old Sacramento, a registered national landmark and state historic park”. With the diverse offerings there is something that will appeal to every family member.

visit california

Trains, cars, or both? Sacramento is home to the California State Railroad Museum and California Auto Museum. Transportation and the area’s history are closely tied as the city was part of the transcontinental railroad and Pony Express. The Railroad Museum not only displays restored locomotives and train cars, they also feature “40 one-of-a kind exhibits”. Here you can learn about railroad history from 1850 to the trains we ride today. A mile down the road the Auto Museum is full of examples of more modern four wheeled transport. The collection features cars from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, originals and restorations.

california railroad

Art? The Crocker Art Museum is a perfect stop. Opening in 1885 the museum is a part of history too, the “first public art museum in the Western United States”.  Enjoy more than the art when visiting, there are also live events, tours, and classes for kids, adults, or the whole family. When planning your trip be sure to check out their Events Calendar on the site.

History? Old Town Sacramento Historic District is a living piece of the past. Shops once supplied miners in search of gold, now those historic buildings house shops and eateries that appeal to new visitors in the area. The Sacramento History Museum is there to expand your local knowledge or if you want to go back before the city was founded try the California State Indian Museum.

travel in california

California Gold Rush

Gold brought the original settlers to the region and now you can learn about the history and recapture the experience at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma Ca. James Marshall triggered the “largest migration in history” when he discovered gold in 1848. With a museum, gold panning, candle and rope making you can spend the afternoon living history.
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STORY LAND’S BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR IS HERE!

New Hampshire theme park

After wrapping up a successful 65th season mid-October, Story Land welcomes the off season with its biggest sale yet! The annual Black Friday sale kicked off on November 5th, and as always, offers the deepest discounts on Story Land season passes, day tickets, and more!

ALL-NEW for 2019 – the Story Land Platinum Season Pass!  In addition to unlimited admission to Story Land and great perks like dining and retail discounts, the Platinum Season Pass grants the passholder unlimited admission to Living Shores Aquarium (livingshoresaquarium.com) from its opening in Spring of 2019 through the end of the year. Also exclusive to the Platinum Season Pass are one time use “Bring a Friend Free ANY Days”, where Platinum passholders can bring up to 3 friends to Story Land FREE! Shoppers can save $20 on the new Platinum Season Pass, $30 on Premium Season Passes and a whopping 40% off Basic Season Passes! All season passes entitle the passholder to unlimited admission to Story Land during the season, while Premium and Platinum passholders get lots of other fun perks. The full list of pass benefits can be found atstorylandnh.com/seasonpass. Season pass payment plans are available in 3 month or 6 month formats, with payments as low at $7.49. Shoppers can also save $16 off day tickets, which are valid any day of the 2019 season and make great gifts!
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Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Getaway

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Casino, their motto is “Expect the unexpected” and visitors should!

If you are planning a trip to Pennsylvania there is no better destination than the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Stay, dine, and adventure all at one location. You can’t go wrong and there are options for every family member, even the canine ones. Luxury and activity come together to offer stimulation and relaxation.

Pittsburgh resort

The first step is choosing the accommodations that work for you and your family. Nemacolin offers three rooming options, the Chateau Lafayette, Falling Rock, and their Lodge. Or if you want more they have townhouses and luxury vacation homes available. Traveling with a four legged companion? Try Nemacolin Wooflands Resort and Spa. No matter which you pick there is no wrong answer when every one is so lovely a retreat from the every day.

luxury resorts

Once you are on the grounds and your vacation has begun it is time to select between all of the possibilities Nemacolin has for its guests. Want to get some dirt on your boots? Try the Adventure Center. Hiking, bike rentals, paintball target practice, even a Jeep® Off-Road Driving Academy are some of the adventures that keep your feet on the ground. Or you can adventure up high. Fatbird SuperFlyer is over 3,000’ of dueling zip lines, or give the elevated Ropes Tour and Climbing Wall a try. Maybe keep it simple with a family round at the Fallingbrook Mini Golf Course.

Have Sippy Will Travel

Your kids can get so much more from their trip to the Nemacolin Wildlife Academy than just time in the outdoors. With a Safari Tour, on foot, or horseback, there are many ways to experience the wild life at Nemacolin. They are dedicated to giving a safe home to animals such as bison, zebra, a bengal tiger, lions, wolves and bears. There is also a nursery of more than 40 species of smaller animals like the two toed sloth, fennec foxes, rabbits and reptiles. There is always something new to learn and discover.
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Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Training

space camp

There are many reasons why actual space travel for civilians is quickly gaining momentum. Corporate ventures, like Mars One, Virginia Galactic and Elon Musk’s space-bound Tesla, have made such voyages closer to being a real possibility. Celebrities like Beyonce have reportedly put deposits on being one of the first on a commercial flight. Turmoil and pollution on this planet often makes escaping it a tempting option. Also, there is wide interest in STEM programs: phones and video games have created a universal audience and brought awareness to people of science aptitude they didn’t even know they had.

visit nasa

Now, thanks to NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, students can get hands-on training to go to Mars! The Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) is a special simulation of space walks, landing a capsule and more, to give a physical experience to complement the science they’ve been studying. After all, there’s so much more to exploring space than what’s on the page of a book. This gives students a real incentive to be able to achieve the exciting pinnacles of being an astronaut. Participants will take part in a Space Launch System rocket. They’ll also spend the day working on simulated Mars: collaborating with each other, doing engineering work and botany-gardening to supply food. So thought provoking, and the hands on experience gives you and your children a whole new perspective, and experience, to space and what astronauts deal with. 
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Escape the Cold- to the Best Beaches in America. Visit Desin, Florida

Now that the cold weather has arrived, you might be thinking about ways to escape it.  Consistently rated among the best beaches in Florida and in the USA (and even the world), you can’t go wrong with a visit to Destin, Florida. Known for it’s emerald green, yet totally clear water and white “sugar sand” powder soft beaches, Destin will give you the break from reality that you have been craving. If you have yet to make up your mind, let the beautiful scenery, amazing seafood, and endless opportunity for outdoor activities help you arrive to that conclusion.

best beaches

If you are a fan of seafood, you will be in a foodie paradise. Obviously the fare is as fresh as it gets, being right on the water. Part of Florida’s “panhandle” (along the Northwest of the state, most boardering the Gulf of Mexico, and yes- because it looks like a panhandle), people here take seafood seriously. You will find some of the most interesting and unique ways of cooking seafood you have had along the panhandle region, in my own experience. You might have had oysters, but I can guarantee you have not tried them all the ways you will find them here. It doesn’t’ matter if you prefer “tried and true” dishes or you are more of an adventurous eater, you won’t be disappointed in Destin.

beach restaurants

At The Crab Trap, you can eat outdoors or inside. I’d recommend out, as this restaurant has the most beautiful views of the beach and the Boardwalk below. There, watch beachgoers play vollyball or the waves roll in while you enjoy your meal. The ocean breeze is peaceful and welcome, and it’s a very relaxing way to spend your time out as a family. Located directly below you is The Boardwalk at Okaloosa Island, with shops, a small spray park, and other ways to while away your time. Let the kids run ahead of you or enjoy the water while you keep an eye on them. Great restaurant with great food, fantastic service (really, top notch), location, atmosphere, and views.  (crabtrapdestin.com)

fishing pier

Make sure you take the time to visit Okaloosa Island Pier after you eat; it’s about a block away. Not only the perfect spot to take a family photo, but you can also look for dolphins, fish, seabirds, or other marine life. You can also go fishing as well if you’d like.  I know, again with the views- but really, they are incredible.

destin aquaruim

Across the parking lot, in the same center, is the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park (gulfarium.com). It is a top Fort Walton Beach attraction, and perfect for families and animal lovers. This marine park houses animals like seals, turtles, alligators, fish, snakes, and much more. Learn from trainers and staff members about these animals, their care, and what they do in the wild. There are live shows at set times, and you can also sign up for animal encounters to feed penguins, snorkel with stingrays, and other options. Do this ahead of time so that you have your choice available to you at a time you are able to attend. 

SNUBA

We were definitely looking to spend as much time as we were able to outdoors. Getting as much vitamin D as you can while you can is always good, true? If you are looking for some outdoor adventure, book some time with Destin Snorkel & SNUBA Tour (destinsnorkel.com) Easily one of the coolest things we have done in a long time, this experience is part scuba, part snorkel, and perfect for almost any age and any level of swimmer.  Head over to the (very cool, save time to walk and shop along) boardwalk, where you will meet your SNUBA professional and get your snuba-suit on. Yes, it’s just a wetsuit and fins, but you will feel so much cooler thinking of it that way. Once you are ready, head onto the boat where you are driven to safe, calm, and clear waters. First, you will receive a 30-minute orientation where you are shown how to use all equipment and explanations are given, as well as questions answered. Then, you can swim and snorkel for a while. After that, you are able to dive up to 20 feet, with the rest of your group and your SNUBA instructor swimming along with you. Your mouthpiece is connected to an oxygen tank, and you are able to breathe fairly easily after you get used to it. You can see quite a variety of ocean life, and it’s a really awesome experience to be completely submerged underwater for such long stretches of time. Literally otherworldly, and very peaceful.  Not a great swimmer? Believe it or not, that’s OK. Got kids? Also fine. Call ahead and talk to them about restrictions, but there are far fewer then you might think. If you have never experienced SNUBA, or are thinking about SCUBA diving but have not yet, you must try this. An absolute “must try” experience for anyone. 
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Saving Your Sanity: Tips For Flying With Children

travel with kids

Most parents would agree that traveling with young children is stressful. Children, as a rule, do not like to be enclosed in limited spaces for long periods of time. This, in addition to the other discomforts of air travel (such as airplane turbulence and ear-aches), tend to make them irritable passengers.

Helpful tips for planning airplane trips with children before the flight

Book reasonable flights

A long-haul flight is not a great idea for toddlers or younger children. Rather than booking a long direct flight, it is advisable to break the journey with connecting flights. Stopovers can be a great opportunity for parents to relax and the kids to stretch their legs and get excited about the airports and duty-free shopping.

Choose good seats

It is important to book the flight early so you can have a choice of great seats. Seats on the aisle rows are usually best for people traveling with children. Also, look out for seats with wider leg room and close proximity to the airplane restrooms.

Parking

If you’re parking at the airport, you can avoid expensive parking charges by reserving a parking spot close to the airport. This can ensure a smooth transition during departure and arrival. Got Parking is a great site where you can search, compare and reserve parking near the airport. You will also have 24/7 shuttle service and security cameras to keep things safe while you are away. 

Pack effectively

It’s usually helpful to make a list of items that should be present in the carry-on bag. By writing a list, you make sure that important things are not left behind. Important items within the carry on should include:

  • Food and snacks such as sandwiches, fruit, and crackers
  • Any prescription medication that your child needs
  • Diapers for younger children
  • Change of clothing
  • Toiletries
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Underwater Adventures at the Downtown Houston Aquarium with CityPASS

Home to over 200 species of aquatic life, the Downtown Houston Aquarium is an impressive & entertaining place to visit with the entire family. You can truly spend an entire day watching the adventures of your favorite sea creatures under 500,000 gallons of wonderment, dining within a full service restaurant and enjoying a variety of amusement rides to thrill kids of all ages. Grab your Houston CityPASS and save 49% off your visit to the aquarium and four other top attractions in the city at just $59 for adults and $49 for kids.



As you make your way through the Louisiana swamp you’ll spy gators, snapping turtles, crayfish, bullfrogs and more that will make you feel like you’re really exploring the bayou. Within the Shipwreck exhibit you’ll view a colorfully diverse array of coral, tangs, groupers and moray eels.

 

 Aside from the red bellied piranhas and venomous freshwater stingrays they featured in the Rain forest exhibit, we were all happily surprised by the handful of other inhabitants to view, like the emerald tree boa, vibrant birds and tree frogs.

If you’ve ever found yourself curious about the day to day travels of a shark, OCEARCH‘s global shark tracker enables scientists, explorers and even families at home to follow the tagged sharks in real time.

Discovering that the Downtown Houston aquarium has 4 majestic white tigers named Nero, Marina, Coral and Reef in the Maharajah’s Temple was an unexpected surprise. Coral had just awaken from a nap but we were told she’s normally quite the feisty firecracker. The state of the art exhibit is temperature regulated with multi-level areas for the tigers to climb, a large pool for water play and is one of 230 exhibits that have been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

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Ski Mountain High in California

Just outside LA you can hit the slopes!


A short drive from the major cities in Southern California, Mountain High Ski Resort is a must visit this winter. Whether you are a skier, snowboarder, or looking to go down the hill by sled this is the place. My visit was a pleasure from start to finish. The drive is pleasant, the food is tasty, and the winter sports are where it’s at.

Me in my Mountain High Yeti mask!

If you didn’t know January is National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. So I figured I would take on the challenge at Mountain High. Skiing is totally new to me and I could not have picked a better destination to get started. Everyone raved about their ski instructors and I agree. Mountain High has a top notch ski school, their instructors are certified PSIA and AASI, use the latest equipment, and boast some of the highest success rates in the country with lessons for all skill levels.

If you are an expert already there is plenty to keep you busy. Mountain High is broken into three resorts, East, West, and North. Each is packed full of great runs and when the weather gifts SoCal with snow we are ready to rock. There are 290 acres of skiable terrain, The trail breakdown is 25% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 35% Advanced to keep everyone racing along. With a maximum elevation of 8,200 feet keep hydrated and don’t be surprised if you get winded more easily. Hydration is key.
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