Day Trips

Pumpkin Picking in Orange County, New York

Pumpkin Picking in Orange County, New York

Every year my family heads up to the Hudson Valley and Warwick, NY just over the border from Vernon, NJ, for fall fun. We go apple picking and hiking along the Appalachian Trail in September, sampling cider and warm cider doughnuts as we go. But come October, we turn our thoughts to finding the perfect pumpkin for Halloween in the expansive farms of aptly named Orange County.

While you’re in the area, the town of Warwick is filled with lovely independent shops and places to eat. My family also loves Warwick Valley Winery which has live music on weekend afternoons and a fabulous cafe that serves truffle fries and delicious wood-oven pizza.

Here’s your guide for Pumpkin Picking in Orange County, New York! The farms below offer pick your own pumpkins and plenty of other entertainment for families:

Continue reading “Pumpkin Picking in Orange County, New York”

Baby, Let Us Take You on a Sea Cruise, European Vacation, Far Flung Adventures

The Ultimate Guide to a Rhine River Cruise

Rhine River Cruise AmaWaterways

A cruise down the Rhine River shines a spotlight on everything that’s great about river cruises in Western Europe. While you float along one of the most important waterways in the world, you’ll touch land in four different countries—the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland—visiting big cities such as Amsterdam and Zurich, smaller centers like Cologne and Strasbourg, and the tiny towns that give the river its heart and soul (but that big cruise ships could never get near), such as darling Riquewihr in France’s unique Alsace region.

I rolled down the river on AmaWaterways “Enchanting Rhine” itinerary, and got the inside scoop on the myriad charms of the Rhine River’s ports of call and castle-laden scenery. (Note: Adventures by Disney uses AmaWaterways for its family-friendly European cruise itineraries, but Ama is comfortable for families who like to travel on their own as well.)

Read on for the A to Z highlights as you sail from Amsterdam to Zurich (note that river cruises also do the reverse Switzerland to Netherlands trip).
Ready to set sail? Let’s roll!

Continue reading “The Ultimate Guide to a Rhine River Cruise”

European Vacation, Far Flung Adventures, Travel Tips, Reviews, & Giveaways

WOW, $99 Airfare to Europe! (Yes, You Read That Right)

WOW $99 Airfare to Europe

WOW airlines just announced $99 one-way fares to Europe, in November and December no less! If you’re thinking of taking the family to Europe for the holidays, you want to book RIGHT NOW.

Continue reading “WOW, $99 Airfare to Europe! (Yes, You Read That Right)”

Far Flung Adventures

Mythical Creatures and Where to Find Them on Your Family Vacation

Mythical Creatures family vacation

Do you have kids who love Harry Potter? Did your family love the magical film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Then have we got a family vacation idea for you!

Expedia UK has created a fun guide to all the mythical creatures in the world — everything from Bigfoot in Oregon to Yeti in Nepal to Unicorns in China (who knew?) — with interactive click and go info.

Continue reading “Mythical Creatures and Where to Find Them on Your Family Vacation”

Travel Tips, Reviews, & Giveaways

How to Help Puerto Rico

How to Help Puerto Rico

Over the past two decades I’ve visited Puerto Rico on nearly a dozen vacations. I circumvented the island numerous times, marveled at the hospitality, enjoyed the Latin culture, sunned on the beautiful beaches under palm trees, told friends and readers to visit, and appreciated that this island was a bit of America with it’s own unique heritage.

I’ve been bringing my son Aidan, now 14, since he was an infant.  From charming abuelas who would pinch his toddler chubby cheeks in the  street to learning to speak Spanish and making new friends as a teen — Puerto Rico means so much to him too.

Puerto Rico

To see the island flattened by Hurricane Maria hurts. To watch the almost hostile response to the crises from our government as the island copes with both the lack of electricity and running water is painful, frustrating, and completely flabbergasting.

As travelers, I try to teach my son that it’s imperative to be citizens of the world, to help where and when help is needed. We’ve been contributing to funds to help other islands affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but today, it’s time to help Puerto Rico.

Continue reading “How to Help Puerto Rico”

Beach Blanket Bingo, Travel Tips, Reviews, & Giveaways, TravelTuesday Q&A, Week Long Getaways

#TravelTuesday Q&A: Caribbean Family Travel Options for Holiday Break

Caribbean Family Travel

Q: Hi Playground! I’d love to book a warm weather, family getaway for Thanksgiving or Christmas; we want easy nonstop flights and beaches, with other activities, too. Normally we’d consider the Caribbean, but is it too soon after Hurricane Irma, Jose, and the current threat Maria? Is it okay to visit the Caribbean now? Thanks ~ AP

Continue reading “#TravelTuesday Q&A: Caribbean Family Travel Options for Holiday Break”

Travel Tips, Reviews, & Giveaways

Plan Ahead: Flying Tips for Bad Weather Emergencies

Flying Tips for Bad Weather Emergencies

Two major hurricanes in the United States, an earthquake in Mexico, and wildfires and ash in the Pacific Northwest — If you’ve been watching the weather recently, and who hasn’t, and have to travel, you probably have lots of questions about what to do if your flight gets cancelled. And if you’re stuck in a storm, how to get back home the quickest, safest, and easiest way.

As a media spokesperson in the past for both Travelocity and Fodor’s, I’ve had lots of experience giving tips on how to weather the storm, so to speak, for cancelled and delayed flights and how to keep ahead of the storm in the airport.

Here’s my best advice for bad weather FAQs:
Continue reading “Plan Ahead: Flying Tips for Bad Weather Emergencies”

European Vacation, Far Flung Adventures, TravelTuesday Q&A

#TravelTuesday Q&A: Best Paris Restaurants for a Junior Gourmet

Best Paris restaurants for teens

Q: Hi Playground — Do you have any recommendations for restaurants in Paris with authentic French cuisine for my foodie daughter? She’s going to Paris with her aunt for her 13th birthday and prefers a spot with great food (and reasonable prices) over a trendy place. They’re staying near the Place Vendome. Thanks! ~ Gretchen G.

A: Hi Gretchen, What a fabulous birthday adventure! You’re daughter is a girl after my own heart (and stomach). Paris is one of my favorite cities; I visit as often as I can, and love to try as many local bistros and brasseries as possible when I’m there.

Here are some authentic French spots for your teen gourmet (that won’t break the bank):

Continue reading “#TravelTuesday Q&A: Best Paris Restaurants for a Junior Gourmet”