Planning Your Trip To an American National Park

If you have a thirst for adventure and a passion to see truly beautiful parts of the world, then exploring America’s National Parks should be at the top of your travel bucket list. Since they’re dotted all over the country, each park is very different, but one thing they all have in common is that they’re the perfect places to get back to nature. You can see spectacular scenery, view the native wildlife and do plenty of outdoorsy activities. Planning your trip beforehand will allow you to get the most out of your visit.

Which National Park

Each American National Park is truly a geological marvel. From mountains to rivers to lakes; there are ice fields, deserts and waterfalls amongst the different parks. Decide what you would most like to see, and make your choice based on that. You get a different experience at every destination.

 

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Source: Good Free Photos

What Will The Weather Be Like

The weather is America is of course massively diverse- from the scorching sun of Arizona to the snow of the Colorado Rockies. Do your research about the climate of different states so you’ll know what to expect. Be sure to pack accordingly, in some parks you will need to stay cool while still being protected from the sun (especially if you plan on being out in it for most of the day). Large sunglasses, wide brimmed sun hats and light yet long sleeve clothing items will prevent you from becoming burned. In others, you will need thermal clothing and a snow shovel!

Things To Do

Many of the National Parks will offer the same kinds of outdoors activities- hiking, bird watching, vehicle tours. However there will also be specific activities based on the climate and type of surroundings. For example, Big Bend in Texas is home to various important fossils including dinosaur bones. Wondering what to do in Big Bend National Park? Visit the fascinating fossil beds of course! In Virgin Islands National Park you can go scuba diving, something that won’t be possible in the colder or inland parks! Some are more untouched wilderness, whereas others offer more touristy things such as shops, spas and retreats. So make sure you look into exactly what’s available when you’re planning your trip.

Camping

During the peak season (around May to October) the National Parks get incredibly busy. Therefore to guarantee camping, it’s essential that you book ahead. During the off season reservations aren’t taken in some parks as the sites don’t generally fill up, so if you’re visiting between November and mid April you’re probably ok for a last minute visit. Campsites can vary, some will offer lodges for a more glamping experience. Others will offer RV hookups whereas in some you are only able to pitch a tent. Of course this makes a huge difference and depending on what you’re after can help you decide which park to pick.

Have you ever visited any of America’s spectacular National Parks? Will you be paying any of them a visit in 2017?

Anne

I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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The Lone Star State: Kid-Friendly Vacations To Texas

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If you’re looking for a diverse and varied vacation spot, you won’t go wrong with Texas. It has everything your family could wish for, from big cities to small towns, and sandy beaches to hiking trails. It’s big, beautiful and you’ll be sure of a warm welcome.

The state of Texas covers over 261,000 square miles. To put this into perspective, it is larger than several small countries combined. So you won’t be covering the whole state on a short vacation. Here are a few highlights so you can plan your holiday accordingly.

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Dallas

Situated in North Texas, Dallas is a thriving, modern city. If you’re looking for some culture, then check out the museums. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Dallas Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the USA, and the Nasher Sculpture Center is home to one of the finest collections of contemporary sculptures in the world.

After all that culture, stop by Adventure Landing where the whole family can enjoy fairground attractions, miniature golf, and other fun activities.

A note for shopaholics; there are more malls here than anywhere else in the USA so you can shop to your heart’s content.

 

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Galveston

If it’s a beach holiday you’re seeking, Galveston is your destination. This historic coastal town boasts several beaches, including East Beach, Stewart Beach, Pirate’s Beach and Porretto Beach. Each has their own unique charm and you can either while away the hours sitting in the sun, or take part in one of the many activities.

In addition to the beaches, enjoy spending time at the world-renowned Moody Gardens. Or take part in Mardis Gras or the popular Dickens On The Strand festival.

You’ll find plenty hotels, apartments and a great RV resort in Galveston. Accommodation is plentiful and varied and suits all budgets.

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Houston

About 45 minutes north of East Beach in Galveston, you’ll find the US’s fourth largest city. You can’t visit Houston without stopping at Space Center Houston. Here you’ll learn all about the space programs and experience some of the exciting attractions.

Other family-friendly delights include Houston Zoo, The Houston Museum of Natural Science, Children’s Museum of Houston, Hermann Park and the Downtown Aquarium.

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Austin

Austin is the state capital of Texas and home to the University of Texas. It is known for its thriving music scene which includes everything from big name bands to country singers, jazz and up and coming artists.

Did you know that Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America? During the summer months, hundreds of visitors gather at Congress Avenue Bridge, to watch as the bats emerge for their nightly feed.

Check out some of the city’s street art and murals. You’ll find a mixture of commissioned and non-commissioned work. Some of the murals are known throughout the world.

Whether you’re looking for a multi-site vacation or looking to settle for a week or two, Texas has everything from thriving cities to sandy beaches. When you’re planning your next family vacation, consider the Lone Star State.

Anne

I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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Getting Around On Vacation: The Pros and Cons of Different Transport Methods

After a long journey getting to your destination, once you’ve arrived it’s time to explore! Getting around while you’re away depends on the place you’re visiting, your budget and your situation. Here are a few of the pros and cons of each.

Bus

Buses are an excellent way to get around, particularly in busy cities. Since most places will have designated bus lanes, it can actually be a lot quicker to travel in this way than any other method. Plus buses are cheap and accessible. On the downside, while they can be the quickest way to get around in busy cities for making other kinds of trips they can take a long time. The numerous stops and slow speeds mean you can be sat on them for a while. Some buses can also be old and not the most pleasant to sit on. Luckily there are more luxurious buses around these days. Companies like Shofur, for example, provide premium buses for an affordable price.

Car Hire

Car hire can give you the freedom to go wherever you want while you’re away. There’s no waiting for public transport, and you can go directly to the place that you want to visit with no messing around. If you’re travelling with babies or kids which need a lot of stuff, it’s easier to load this into the car than lugging it all on public transport. On the downside, some people might find it daunting to drive in a country which used the opposite side of the road which they were taught. Plus the driving experience is likely to be a lot different from the place you grew up which can throw people off. It can also be annoying having to mess around with documents and things to get the car, and it’s a headache if anything goes wrong with it in your possession. Plus in big cities or certain places, it’s so busy you’re not able to realistically get around by car.

Taxi

Taxis give you the freedom of essentially travelling by car, but with none of the hassle of car hire. Perfect if you don’t have a license or the inclination to drive abroad, or you’re staying in relatively close proximity to the places you want to visit. Unfortunately, taxis can be extremely expensive, especially for longer journeys. There’s the chance of a dishonest driver taking advantage when they know you don’t know the area. Plus you have to watch out for unlicensed cab drivers in some areas.

 

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Royalty free image from Pexels.com

On Foot

Travelling on foot allows you to really experience the journey. The sights, sounds and smells will always be far more intense when you’re out in the world rather than sat in a vehicle. You can explore and are likely to discover and see everything in far more detail. However, on foot, you can only cover so much distance so this is the best option when you don’t need to get too far, or if you only need to cover a small area.

Bicycle

If you’re looking to explore a park or a set area, there will often be bike rentals available to take advantage of. This gives you the ability to cover a much larger area with less effort, but you still get to see and experience everything in detail like being on foot. The downside is that this won’t be available everywhere and so it’s only going to be possible for some places. Plus if you’re travelling with children or are carrying a lot of items with you then it’s not going to be the best option.

Anne

I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular Brings Waves of Halloween Fun Weekends in October #ad

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SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular Brings Waves of Halloween Fun Weekends in October!

 

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Halloween meets the sea every weekend in October during SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular. This family-friendly event immerses guests in an underwater “fantasea” with trick-or-treating, whimsical pumpkin fish, sea-themed arts and crafts, and up-close animal encounters.

 

SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular takes place from 12 p.m. to park close every weekend, October 1-30. Like all special events at SeaWorld, Halloween Spooktacular is included with park admission.

 

Spooktacular Highlights Include:

 

  • Waves of Trick-or-Treat Fun – Costumed youngsters can trick-or-treat for ghoulish goodies.  Each sea-themed, trick-or-treat station features an assortment of candy favorites including Tootsie Roll and SunRype Fruit To Go, just to name a few.

 

  • Penelope’s Garden Party – This dynamic “underwater” environment comes to life each weekend with a live DJ, animal interactions, a variety of craft opportunities, bubbles floating overhead and whimsical sea-themed characters.

 

  • Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween – Celebrate a Spooktacular Halloween at SeaWorld with The Count, Elmo, Abby, and the rest of everyone’s Sesame Street friends!  The Count is feeling lonely this Halloween, and it’s up to you and the loveable monsters from Sesame Street to get him into the Halloween spirit.  Batty bats and spooky skeletons join the fun in a song filled stage show that invites you and your family to dance, play and sing along.

 

  • Spooktacular Dance Party – Children join Princess Penelope and her under-the-sea friends for a Spooktacular Dance Party where they can participate in line-dancing favorites as clouds of bubbles fill the evening air. The party will kick off at the Village Square in the front of the park every event night one hour before park closing.

 

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Spectacular Spooky Add-Ons available at SeaWorldOrlando.com:

 

  • Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch – Guests can celebrate with an immersive and memorable brunch experience at Dine With Shamu. They will enjoy seasonal items and reserved tables that bring them up close to majestic killer whales.  There also are some Halloween surprises including a family photo in a decorative frame and a free cookie decorating kit. Prices begin at $28 plus tax for adults and $16 plus tax for kids.Pass Members receive a 10% discount.

 

  • Meet and Greet with Cookie Monster at SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular- Meet Cookie Monster from Sesame Street during SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular. For just $19 per person, guests can meet the character at SeaFire Grill and enjoy his favorite treat: a cookie! Plus, every guest receives a printed photo of their meet-and-greet to take home. Pass Members receive a 10% discount.

 

  • Reserved Seating: Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween- Enjoy a reserved seat at a showtime of your choice for Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween show at SeaWorld Orlando. Priced at $19 per person, guarantee a seat for a showtime of your choice.

Best Way to Play:

 

The best way for families to experience SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is with a SeaWorld Annual Pass. Enjoy 12 months of unlimited admission with no blockout dates and free parking starting at $14 a month with EZpay, for details visit www.SeaWorldOrlando.com.

 

SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration:

 

Just around the corner, waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays November 25 through December 11 and daily December 16 through 31.  Guests can make holiday memories by enjoying live shows, festive shopping and delicious food. Stay tuned for all-new holiday news and returning favorites soon.

 

For more information, park hours and to purchase tickets, visit www.SeaWorldOrlando.com.  Follow SeaWorld on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for the latest Halloween Spooktacular details and information.

Marijean

My name is Marijean, I live in Sunny FL with my wonderful husband and 2 children. I love Disney, Coffee and Blogging 🙂

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Our Trip To Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains

*This post was written by Blog Contributor Heather Little

Don’t get me wrong…as a Florida resident, I love living near the beach, but sometimes you just need a change of scenery.  This summer, my kids asked to take a trip to the mountains, so we decided to visit Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains.  The great thing about Gatlinburg is that there is something for everyone – from quaint, romantic cabins for couples to fun, family resorts and everything in between.  The list of activities is just as wide-ranging.  For nature lovers, there are hiking trails of all levels that take you to beautiful sights like waterfalls, mountain overlooks, meandering streams, and wildlife encounters.  For the more adventurous, there are mountain coasters, the famous Ober Gatlinburg Alpine Slide and gondola ride, moonshine distilleries, a space needle, and even a few haunted houses!   Downtown you will find local art and crafts stores, restaurants, homemade candy, donut, and popcorn shops, as well as other fun attractions like mountain miniature golf and the Ripley’s Aquarium.

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Photo Credit: TripAdvisor.com

If you take the main road through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, be sure to stop at the visitor’s centers on both ends.  Oconaluftee at the south entrance offers a historic perspective of the area and Sugarlands on the north side is a great place to stop and talk to a park ranger and discover some of the wonderful plant and animal life in the area.

 

 

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Summer in the mountains is a great time visit.  The trees and vegetation are lush and green and on warm days, you can enjoy a dip in one of the creeks that runs through the Smoky Mountain National Park and downtown Gatlinburg.  Fall in the Smokies is famous for its beautiful colors as the leaves change, making it one of the more popular times to visit.  During winter and the holiday seasons, the streets are lined with holiday lights and the entire town has a festive mood.  There’s nothing quite like bundling up with a cup of hot apple cider and a warm donut on a chilly, mountain night.  But no matter what time of year you decide to visit, with beautiful scenery and activities for the whole family, it’s sure to be a fun-filled trip!

Have you ever visited Gatlinburg?

Heather Little

My name is Heather Little and my husband and I have two sweet girls and one crazy dog. We moved to Florida 6 years ago and have loved every minute of it! I enjoy crafting, good food, shopping, and of course travel!

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