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7 best US national parks to take your kids

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Trying to plan a family vacation in a national park can feel overwhelming. With 62 official parks in the US and counting, there are simply too many options to go down the list, one-by-one, and tick off the best options for kids. To help narrow it down, here are our top picks for family-friendly trips in some of America’s most treasured national parks. With towering trees, colorful badlands, rocky tide pools, and epic wildlife sightings, there’s something for even the pickiest city kid on this list.

A family of four admires the view at Death ValleyDeath Valley is a great place for outdoorsy families to find some sun in the winter © Armin Adams / Getty Images

Death Valley

When to visit: Spring, fall, winter

Best for: Hiking, rock scrambling, wild west history, scenic drives, car camping

Whenever you read about Death Valley, you’ll often find it described as a park of superlatives. It’s the hottest, driest and lowest place in North America. It’s also the largest national park outside of Alaska by over a million acres, which means it’s a massive desert wonderland for families to explore. Most of the top attractions, though, like Badwater Basin, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Devil’s Golf Course, Zabriskie Point and Artist’s Palette, are only a short hike from the car, and many are stroller-accessible.

Furnace Creek is the main hub for lodging and food in Death Valley, with several park campgrounds and hotels like The Inn at Death Valley, The Oasis at Death Valley, and The Ranch at Death Valley, all of which have swimming pools for those scorching shoulder season visits. The best time to go to Death Valley is typically the “off season” for other parks – winter – meaning it’s a wonderful option for outdoorsy families looking to escape the snow and go on a road trip!

You might also like: US national parks: how to see the best of 5 epic parks in one day each

Sequoia

When to visit: Summer, fall

Best for: Big trees, hiking, backpacking, car camping

Kids will feel like they’ve entered into Jurassic Park when they gaze up, awestruck, at the giant sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park. This park is all about big mountains and forest bathing, and the Parks Service has done an excellent job to making the big trees as easy-to-reach and family-friendly as possible. Take Generals Highway up from Three Rivers, then look for deer and black bears on the accessible Big Trees Trail, which circles Round Meadow. Afterwards, soak up some history and learn about the park’s flora and fauna at the Giant Forest Museum before heading off to see the General Sherman Tree.

Looking to take the family on a backpacking trip? Sequoia National Park has several great treks up to stunning vistas with water sources that are under 7 miles each way. There are also seven park campgrounds for those looking to car camp, plus several more in neighboring Kings Canyon. If you’re not into roughing it, The Wuksachi Lodge, located inside the park, is dog friendly and offers a full-service restaurant.

father and son canoe in EvergladesFor interesting wildlife and beach camping, head to the Everglades © Stefanie Grewel / Getty Images

Everglades

When to visit: Spring, fall, winter

Best for: Wildlife viewing, boat tours, beach camping, car camping

Because they’re located on the southernmost tip of Florida, the Everglades stay warm and tropical year-round, making them a prime spot for snowbirds looking to escape the frigid winter up north. Kids will love the guided airboat safaris that help visitors spot native birds and cruise right up to the park’s most notorious resident – the alligator. Stick around after the boat ride to catch a wildlife show, included with your ticket.

Everglades National Park offers two drive-in campgrounds for car camping and multiple backcountry tent sites, though families looking for epic beach access, a restaurant, and a pool will want to rent a car and stay in nearby Miami, which is only a one-hour drive from the park.

Yellowstone

When to visit: Summer, fall

Best for: Geyser gazing, wildlife viewing, car camping, hiking

Imagine the look on your child’s face the first time they see the face of a 2,000-pound bison walking alongside the car. That’s the magic of Yellowstone National Park. There’s wildlife galore, ample lodging options, and many top sights require only a short stroll to reach. The multi-use trail that circumnavigates Yellowstone’s infamous Geyser Basin and Old Faithful is fully accessible for those with strollers or mobility issues and is a must see for any first-time visitor.

As for lodging, Yellowstone has got you covered. With nine hotel/cabin facilities and twelve campgrounds located inside the park itself, there’s something to suit everyone’s needs. We love the historic Old Faithful Inn, finished in 1904, which features live music, a full-service restaurant, and easy access to the park’s celebrity geysers.

You might also like: National Parks: 11 ways to be sustainable in Yellowstone

two kids walking through shallow water.jpgAcadia National Park has a great Jr. Ranger program and plenty of family-friendly hikes © Jerry Monkman / Getty Images

Acadia

When to visit: Summer, fall

Best for: Tide pools, scenic drives, fall foliage, hiking, biking, car camping

With one of the most unique Junior Ranger programs in the U.S. park system, Acadia is a fantastic place to bring ocean-loving little ones. Hop onto a ranger-guided boat cruise, search for seals, and touch real sea life brought up from the water below, then head to the Carroll Homestead for pioneer games and an official Junior Ranger booklet and badge. Looking to expend some energy? Acadia also has 125 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of historic carriage roads, suitable for biking or those with strollers.

As for accommodations, Acadia offers three NPS campgrounds that book up far in advance during summer months and fall weekends. For hotels, check out nearby Bar Harbor, with options galore, many of which have heated swimming pools and a spa to pamper tired parents.

Grand Canyon

When to visit: Spring, fall

Best for: Scenic drives, hiking, backpacking, car camping

The Grand Canyon is one of those once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list family road trips that should be on everyone’s radar. The park features one of the most robust paved trails in the entire park system, the 13-mile accessible South Rim Trail, which is virtually flat and perfect for strollers and kids of all ages. Start at the Bright Angel Lodge and continue onto the interpretive Trail of Time, where children can touch samples of rocks and learn about the unique geology of the area. Families who don’t want to hike out and back can hop onto a shuttle bus at the end of the journey and ride it back to the lodge. Horseback riding and mule tours are also a great way to explore the rich history of the canyon.

Though backpacking down to the Colorado River is rated as strenuous and not suitable for small kids, Grand Canyon National Park offers three car-friendly campgrounds, two of which can be reserved in advance. Those looking to splurge on a full-service hotel within the park’s boundaries will want to book early and check out the historic Bright Angel Lodge or the panoramic views at the El Tovar Hotel.

You might also like: The Grand Canyon: how to get the most from a short trip

Carlsbad Caverns

When to visit: Year-round

Best for: Caving, bat viewing, short hikes

Crawl, hike, and shimmy through spectacular, underground rock cathedrals at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. With cave tours (open to ages 4 and up) spanning anywhere from one to five hours, there’s adventure to suit everyone’s attention span and ability level here.

Stick around for sunset for a real treat, though. Every evening during the summer, thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats soar out of the mouth of the cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It’s a breathtaking natural wonder, and a ranger-lead talk helps explain this unique wildlife phenomenon to visitors of all ages.

Though only primitive, backcountry camping is available within the park’s boundaries, nearby Carlsbad, New Mexico offers plentiful kid-friendly hotel options, many of which have a pool and free breakfast buffet.

Title: 7 best US national parks to take your kids
Sourced From: www.budgettravel.com/article/7-best-us-national-parks-to-take-your-kids
Published Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2020 14:47:00 +0000

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Vacation

What is the longest layover you’ve had between flights?

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Flight connections are a fact of life and airline business models are built on the hub and spoke concept. When searching for flights online, usually the one with the longest layover is the cheapest.

Since people like to get where they are going as quickly as possible, the flights with short connections are more popular and therefore more expensive. After all, who likes sitting around in an airport terminal for fun?

Is This The Longest Layover?

In today’s topsy-turvy world, nothing is the same when comes to booking airline tickets. The new regime involves being patient as your flight bookings are cancelled and retimed, seemingly ad nauseum.

Qatar Airways switched some of my flights around for a forthcoming trip. This is no problem at all, however the fun thing is that this becomes my longest layover ever. Clocking in at 20 hours and 15 minutes, it will be quite a while in Doha Hamad International Airport.

Overnight Layovers In Airports

Twice in my life I have spent the night overnight in an airport. The first was in Los Angeles during a little mileage run, where I landed at LAX in the late evening and had a morning flight out. Not a lot of fun, as it was cold and dimly lit.



A better experience was in Stockholm Arlanda Airport last year. They have a 24 hour 7-11 open all night, plus there the lighting and heating is on, so I happily wiled away the hours listening to music between flights.

Overall Thoughts

With a new longest layover coming up, it will be something of an experience. I would usually consider four hours plus quite long, with 2 to 3 hours being the norm. It’s rare that I select an extremely short connection, such as the 45 minute ones offered in Amsterdam by KLM. I find that’s just asking for something to go wrong.

So, what is the longest layover you’ve experienced? Did you hit up an airport transit hotel or spend it in the terminal? Maybe that became a very long lounge visit? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by Mr. Autthaporn Pradidpong via Unsplash.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What is the longest layover you’ve had between flights?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/longest-layover-between-flights/
Published Date: Mon, 28 Sep 2020 12:03:36 +0000

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Benefits of a Vacation Rental vs Hotel

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When planning a vacation, there are a few things to consider, such as airfare, food, travel items, and, most importantly, stay accommodations. When thinking of places to stay, your mind might automatically jump to a 5 star hotel once you reach your destination. However, vacation rentals are redefining and growing in popularity in the hospitality industry. When facing the problem of vacation rentals versus hotels, the decision may be easier than you initially imagined. There are many advantages to opting for a vacation rental that a traveler will not get when staying in a hotel. For your next vacation, rather than choosing a hotel with limited space and confined amenities, indulge yourself in a personalized vacation rental stay.

Vacation Rental vs Hotel

Ditch The Busy Hotel Crowds

If the goal for your next vacation stay is to relax, it might be a good idea to choose a vacation rental over a hotel. Larger hotels are notorious for their busy crowds. These historically congested properties may lead to a pool filled with a hundred people, other vacation goers’ unsupervised children running down the halls, or the room next door creating a noisy disturbance in the middle of the night. Moreover, these irritants generally do not apply to vacation rentals. Opt for a vacation rental that can provide you with the privacy and peaceful vacation that you deserve. Long gone are the days of crowded elevators and overwhelming lobbies.

Customize Your Personalized Experience With A Vacation Rental

Many hotels typically have an activities director who is responsible for coordinating and scheduling meal times and/or events of the day. While this may be attractive for travelers who have a more laissez-faire planning approach, vacation rentals provide guests with the opportunity to personalize their experience completely. When residing at a hotel, a guest does not have a say in when meals are served, operation hours for fitness facilities, or even when the pool closes. Conversely, when staying in a vacation rental, YOU are the boss. Want to go for a midnight swim? Go for it. Want to have breakfast for dinner? Sounds perfect! Staying in a vacation rental allows you to customize the vacation that best suits you.

Your Vacation Rental Is Your “Home Away From Home”

There is no denying it; hotels offer an up-scale luxurious experience. However, they lack the space necessary for vacation goers to spread out and relax. Vacation rentals combine the best of both worlds, sporting a combination of luxurious elegance and a homey ambiance. Furthermore, vacation homes provide guests with all of the amenities of home, such as full-sized appliances, a state of the art kitchen, a spacious living room, and more, while also offering breathtaking waterfront views of Miami and gorgeous outdoor living spaces.

Vacation Rentals Are More Ideal For Small Groups

Although hotels have the capacity to accommodate those traveling in groups, the experience can, at times, be far from seamless. During your hotel stay, you risk the chance that members of your party are placed on different floors at opposite ends of the building, limiting your group’s quality bonding time. Meanwhile, vacation rentals provide parties with their individual rooms and easily accessible common areas, perfect for socializing.

Have More Space At Your Miami Vacation Rental

A cramped is less than ideal for many travelers. In the United States, the average hotel room is only 330 square feet. Although this may not seem too bad for a brief stay, four or more people sleeping in the room and luggage can quickly make the room feel tight. Instead, opt for Luxury Rentals Miami and give yourself the space to spread out and relax on your next vacation getaway.

The post Benefits of a Vacation Rental vs Hotel appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: Benefits of a Vacation Rental vs Hotel
Sourced From: feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheTravelExperta/~3/L_0UjijarpI/benefits-of-a-vacation-rental-vs-hotel.html
Published Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2020 16:29:28 +0000

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6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It

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Montana is one of those destinations that would be great for anyone who enjoys spending most of their time outdoors. If you are an adventurous soul who wants to explore the natural beauty of the outdoors, Montana has a lot in store for you. 

6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It

Housing multiple national parks and extensive rural land, Montana will provide you with the best scenery and an abundance of wildlife. So, if you are looking for an unforgettable trip to the Big Sky Country, keep on reading to find out about 6 of the best locations you can go to in Montana.

6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana 

1.  Great Falls

Due to it being in the very center of Montana, the Great Falls is one of the most popular destinations for tourists. The Great Falls, which is also known as the Electric City, can be a stopping point for you if you’re visiting nearby national parks or if you were simply near the middle of Montana. They’re a magnificent sight to behold and are certainly one that you won’t get bored of anytime soon. There are multiple routes that you can take when visiting the Great Falls. For example, you can walk along the Missouri River banks, or you can visit the Ryan Dam. Either way, you’ll have extensive knowledge about American history at the end of the day.

2.  Glacier National Park

if you want to start your trip visiting one of the most magical destinations of Montana, you’d better go to the wonderland that is the Glacier National Park. Nestled between British Columbia and Alberta, Glacier National park is one of the best destinations that you can start your trip with. It covers around 16,000 square miles and is the homeland for the Grizzly bear, the Canadian lynx, mountain bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. It is also known as the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. If you’re more into hiking, you’ll be interested to know that there are various hiking trails, like Huckleberry Mountain Trail.

3.  Virginia City

If you want a throwback to a bygone era, Virginia City is the right destination for you. The historic town proudly displays its vintage houses, historic monuments, narrow railways, and cobblestone roads everywhere you look. It was also a commercial hub and the biggest town of the state, that is until the year 1875. Moreover, Virginia city is historically known for gold mining and it does attract travelers from every which way, especially those who like to relish in the medieval times. So, if you want to go back in history, and visit the Thompson Hickman Museum, Virginia city is your destination.

4.  Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

Montana is filled with natural parks all around, but there aren’t that many cave parks around that feature one of the best sceneries and interesting topography. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is a hotspot for tourists, as it features a number of caves, astounding formations of stalactite and stalagmite as well as pillars. There you can enjoy taking a guided walk and take as many photos as you want. You can also enjoy a picnic or go canoeing to see the wildlife there. You can also visit the Heritage Museum or pay a visit to the nearby Headwater State Park.

5.  Helena

Of course, you can’t go to Montana without visiting its capital city. Helena is also another location which also attracts a large number of tourists. Though it is more modern than Virginia city, Helena still has a historic aura to it, which you’ll find evident in historic-modern monuments and buildings. You can take tours through the city or trek your way to the Mountain Gates of Mississippi River. 

6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It

There are also a number of interesting destinations, such as the Cathedral of Saint Helena, Mount Helena Park, and Montana State Capitol. The Montana Historical Society museum is another interesting location for history geeks, as it exhibits artifacts both modern and historic.

6.  Whitefish

If you ever find yourself in Kalispell or the Glacier National Park, then you must definitely go to the beautiful Whitefish resort in the north. Due to a glacier activity, Whitefish was created in the Flathead Valley. It is also surrounded by freshwater, which means you’ll get to see a breath-taking landscape of lakes and streams. Whitefish is one of the best destinations for anyone who likes to be about and about, as you’ll find a wealth of outdoor activities that you can enjoy.

Finding the best destinations in Montana isn’t that hard of a task, especially that you’ll have a large variety of options to choose from. Whether you want to enjoy the feel of the vibrant city, immerse yourself in old history, or enjoy some of that cowboy culture, Montana will be a perfect destination for your next trip. 

The post 6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: 6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It
Sourced From: feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheTravelExperta/~3/XlZ1DdBKdrI/6-amazing-places-to-visit-in-montana-and-how-to-do-it.html
Published Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:49:24 +0000

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