What if you could make this Christmas even more magical by escaping the ordinary and taking the family on an adventure? So many hotels and resorts around the country offer amazing deals and experiences during the Holiday season. Here are some of the best options for a family friendly Christmas vacation you are sure to never forget! After all, time spent together is better than any present under the tree.
Walt Disney World- Orlando, FL
Few places can compare with the magical feeling you get when you visit a Disney park. To top it off they really go all out when it comes to Christmas celebrations. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is not to be missed with rides, parades, and special firework displays. If you are looking for a Christmas celebration that your kids will be talking about all year then you have found it here. There are several Disney resorts to choose from ranging in price and with ticket inclusive packages offered as well.
Snowland at Great Wolf Lodges
Every day's a pool day at Great Wolf Lodge. During the Christmas season North America’s largest family of indoor water parks celebrates the holidays with its annual Snowland event. You will find life-size gingerbread houses, letters to Santa, caroling, and other many other festivities. You will also get unlimited access to an enormous indoor waterpark with water slides, raft rides, interactive splash pads, surfing simulators, a lazy river, a wave pool, and more. With many locations to choose from you are sure to find the perfect one for you.
Suncadia Resort- Cle Elum, Washington
From late November through early January, Suncadia Resort in Washington's Cascade Mountains is getting in the holiday spirit with its annual WinterFest celebration. If a white Christmas is what you have been dreaming of then this could be your vacation. The resort offers lots of winter fun including tubing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, carriage rides, snowmobile tours and even winter fly fishing. Holiday traditions include visits to Santa's Workshop, elf tuck-ins, and a Christmas Day buffet.
Santa's Workshop- North Pole, NY
Twelve miles from Lake Placid in the Adirondacks is North Pole, NY, a "workshop village" open in summer and on weekends leading up to Christmas. Santa's village has shops, farm animals, candy makers, glassblowers, puppet shows, and a talking Christmas tree. Rides include Santa's Sleigh Coaster and Reindeer Carousel. I can't think of a more magical place to go see Santa than a place actually called North Pole! You will have a good chance of having a snowy Christmas here as well.
Smuggler's Notch Resort- Vermont
Families visiting Smugglers' Notch Resort in northern Vermont can enjoy a variety of special holiday activities throughout much of December. Designed for all ages, these activities include cookie decorating, craft workshops such as sock puppet making and snow art, themed family challenge races, all included in the resort's vacation package. Santa will join children each Saturday around the resort's village bonfire for complimentary hot chocolate and cookies. A weekly Winter Carnival features music, food, games and the thrill of watching an ice carving specialist unveil a masterpiece. A torchlight parade and fireworks follow the carnival. Smugglers' vacation packages also include mountainside condominium lodging, lift tickets, snow tubing, ice skating, use of the indoor pool and hot tub and indoor FunZone with climbing inflatables, and family and adult entertainment.
Ice- Gaylord Resorts
The holiday season kicks off in mid-November at four Gaylord Resorts with the return of ICE!, the award-winning icy attraction and six-week-long Christmas celebrations. With more than two million lights and enormous Christmas trees plus the wonderful ICE! exhibitions, you are sure to find some Christmas magic here.
So there you have it. With so many wonderful Christmas celebrations why not do something a little out of the ordinary this year. With the kids on vacation from school, the Holiday season can be the best time to take that perfect family vacation. Give your kids an adventure they will not soon forget! Who's ready to pack their bags?
Until next time!
When exploring Caribbean vacations there are literally thousands of options for hotels and resorts. There are, however, some that stand out above the rest. These lavish resorts will give you a serious case of wanderlust. Get packing!
Jade Mountain, St Lucia
Rising majestically above the 600 acre beach front resort of Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain Resort on St. Lucia’s south-western Caribbean coastline is a cornucopia of organic architecture celebrating St. Lucia’s stunning scenic beauty. Part of the estate is the historical plantation of Anse Mamin and Emerald Estate where the resort grows its own organic produce. Expect grand sweeping spaces where bedroom, living area and an extravagant private infinity pool glide into one another to form extraordinary platforms floating out into nature. With the fourth wall entirely absent, Jade Mountain’s rooms called "sanctuaries" are stage-like settings from which to embrace the full glory of St. Lucia’s Pitons World Heritage Site, and of course, the beautiful Caribbean Sea.
Hermitage Bay, Antigua
Hermitage Bay is a privately owned, luxury, all inclusive, 5-star boutique hotel on the west coast of Antigua with thirty individual suites set in beautiful tropical gardens on the beach and hillside of a stunning natural bay. The resort uses as much locally grown and organic produce as they can, and also have their own organic kitchen garden on site.
Amanyara, Turks & Caicos
Set on the beautiful island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Amanyara borders the pristine reefs of Northwest Point Marine National Park, acclaimed for some of the world’s best wall and reef diving. Amanyara’s open-air Pavilions and Villas (pictured above), many with direct access to the sea, put the focus on the surrounding landscape. Four Spa Pavilions are set beside a reflecting pond, and outdoor yoga and a Pilates studio offer revitalization in an intimate, stress free setting. The menu at the ocean view restaurant focuses on Asian and Mediterranean dishes and fresh seafood. They are currently finishing repairs on the minor damage sustained during this past hurricane season.
Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico
Once a plantation, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is now one of the most exclusive Caribbean luxury resorts in Puerto Rico inspired by the legacy and memorable vacation experiences of its original developer, Laurance S. Rockefeller. Its remoteness, discreet individualized service and deep respect for the environment distinguish it from other ultra luxury resorts by allowing extraordinary moments to unfold in the most unexpected ways. The Resort offers an array of amenities and facilities including three spectacular 18-hole golf courses, The Beach Club featuring adult and family pools, and the historic Rockefeller Nature Trail, an open-air sanctuary from land to sea.
EdenRoc at Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
Eden Roc at Cap Cana is a unique and secluded property nestles in the exclusive, beachfront community of Cap Cana at the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic. Surrounded by a tropical forest with ecological marvel, pristine beaches, towering cliffs, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, and a bustling Marina. Think of the magnificent architecture along the French and Italian Rivieras, add a touch of Spanish Colonial design, and you get these storybook villas set among the dreamy landscape of the Caribbean. It is a unique interpretation of Mediterranean Riviera romance with a Caribbean twist.
Jumby Bay Island, Antigua
Set in one of the most beautiful, undisturbed places in the world, Jumby Bay is an island of simple pleasures. Reachable only by boat, and with no cars in sight, this private isle of white-powdered beaches and winding bicycle paths is a one-of-a-kind hideaway known, quite simply, as the finest resort in the Caribbean. The island encapsulates everything about a fantasy hideaway, with secluded sun-kissed beaches lapped by pristine turquoise waters. And for every guest there is a journey of experiences waiting to be discovered — a private beachside picnic; snorkeling the nearby coral-fringed islands; a barefoot walk across our long golden sand bar, suspended in the open sea.
Amanera, Dominican Republic
Nestled within more than 2,170 acres of pristine Caribbean jungle, the luxury Amanera resort overlooks the ocean from Playa Grande, whose golden sands make it one of the region’s most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic. The two-bedroom Bay View Casa and 24 freestanding Casitas are perched atop 60-foot cliffs at the western tip of Playa Grande beach. The Spa at Amanera features two treatment rooms, while therapies can also be enjoyed in the privacy of your Casita.
This is not an all inclusive list of luxury resorts in the Caribbean as there are many more, but just a little taste to get you thinking about your next destination. They all look heavenly. Where would you go?
Until next time!
Known as the oasis of sun, sea and sand, Montego Bay, Jamaica is sure to please any vacationer looking for a relaxing yet memorable getaway. With everything that this tropical hot spot has to offer, here are some tips and recommendations to ensure you make the most out of your Jamaican vacation.
1. There is no need to exchange currencies. U.S. dollars are gladly accepted there.
2. Horseback riding along the beach in Montego Bay is unforgettable.
3. Invest in a beachfront room category, trust me, it’s worth it!
4. Take the snorkel cruise from Montego Bay. It’s a three-hour sailing tour with snorkeling along the Jamaican coast from Montego Bay. Enjoy terrific snorkeling at Montego Bay Marine Park, a protected reef area home to a diverse array of tropical fish. Snorkeling gear and instruction, pickup and drop-off from Montego Bay hotels is included.
5. Careen down water slides or jump on a trampoline at Margaritaville, depending on the weather. Sip rum punch or other drinks from an open bar of selected drinks on board. Listen to Caribbean beats and learn some local dance moves from the crew. Margaritaville is in walking distance to restaurants, shopping, ships stop over and clubs.
6. Pick a resort that has 24-hour room service, because there’s always something to do and you will get hungry late at night.
7. Be sure to check out Dunn’s River Falls. This is a must see while in Montego Bay!
8. It is not a good idea to venture out on your own as it can be dangerous. If you are not going out as part of a tour you can have the resort call you a driver who can take you where you need to go. If you're booking a taxi or shuttle, be sure to reserve one with a red plate. These are the licensed and insured drivers. If anything happens, you're covered.
9. The sun is very strong in Montego Bay. Be sure to apply sunscreen often and drink plenty of water.
10. Montego Bay is home to some of the best golf courses. If you love golf make sure to make time to check some of them out during your stay.
11. Montego Bay is characterized by a wet season from May to November, which coincides with the hurricane season, and a dry season from December to April. Plan your trip accordingly.
12. Be sure to check out the famous Chillin Games Room. If you’re into snowboarding, bring yours along as they offer all kinds of activities where you can hit their artificial snow slopes.
Have you been to Montego Bay? Do you have any other tips to add? Comment below!
Until next time!
This beautiful chain of islands in the South Pacific has been on my bucket list for a long time. Tahiti is composed of 118 islands and is an ideal vacation destination if you are seeking true paradise. The main island has two volcanic mountain ranges, and it is known for its black sand beaches and surrounding coral reefs.
You can embrace the island life by staying in an over water bungalow, a popular choice among those seeking total relaxation. Waters in the lagoons average 84 degrees in the summer (November through April) and 79 degrees in the winter (May through October), making them perfect for snorkeling and diving. The marine life in the lagoons is breathtaking with over one thousand species of fish of every color, size and shape.
Bora Bora is considered the most romantic island in the world, and it is famous for its luxury resorts. The island is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef, and the remnants of an extinct volcano rise from the center of the island into two peaks: Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia. The incredible landscape and lush island environment make Bora Bora a popular honeymoon spot, and it's just a one-hour flight from the main island of Tahiti.
Bora Bora is known for its over water bungalows, which epitomize the luxurious island experience. You can stay in an overwater bungalow with glass floors and sneak a peek at the lagoon life below. Can you imagine waking up to that beautiful landscape?
You can keep your vacation as relaxing or as active as you choose. You can snorkel right outside your bungalow in the lagoon’s clear and shallow water. You can also go sailing, feed sharks and rays, go on a 4x4 excursion or scuba dive. Over water bungalows take room service to a whole new level with the option of having your daily breakfast delivered to your bungalow via canoe. Where do I sign up?
Moorea is just 10 miles, or a 30-minute ferry boat ride, from the main island of Tahiti. A wide, translucent lagoon surrounds Moorea’s mountainous landscape made of waterfalls that cut through lush green cliffs.
The island’s unique landscape makes it one of the best Tahitian islands for adventure and activities. The shallow lagoon makes for incredible snorkeling, paddle boarding, cruising and fishing. Whale watching is also a popular activity, attracting the most visitors during the whales’ mating season of August to October. You can also visit the Moorea Dolphin Center, where you can swim side-by-side with dolphins, and kids can wade with them in more shallow water. That would be an unforgettable experience!
Moorea offers many opportunities for adventure, but it is also well-known as a romantic honeymoon destination. It has several romantic resorts to choose from, many of which have over water bungalows and extraordinary spas. If you honeymoon there you can visit hibiscus gardens, pineapple plantations, or just relax on a pristine white sand beach.
Papeete is the main port of call for the island, and it is home to a bustling harbor as well as the International Airport. Here you can find Le Marché, a two-story market located downtown where you can purchase many Tahitian products such as vanilla beans, monoi oil and colorful pareos. You can easily find something special to bring home. Sundays are the best time to visit the market, as it is busy with locals stocking up for a day of family gatherings and meals.
Papeete also has the Robert Wan Pearl Museum, the only museum in the world devoted entirely to pearls. You can purchase black pearls or simply learn about the history and practice of cultivating pearls. The museum also has exhibits that demonstrate the importance of pearls in art, history, mythology and religion.
Vai'ete Square is the place to be after dark. The lively boardwalk is a unique place to have an informal dinner or after-dinner dessert from one of the many roulottes, or food trucks, that gather there to serve a variety of cuisine and desserts. You can choose from many affordable treats, from French crepes to fresh fish and pizza.
The allure of Papeete is undeniable. Its vibrant city atmosphere itself can satisfy a traveler's wanderlust. Yet it's so close to amazing outdoor adventures, such as hiking, diving and horseback riding. It's a different kind of Tahitian experience, which might just be what you are looking for.
Is Tahiti on your bucket list? I know I can't be the only one! If you have been there what did you like most? Comment below:)
Until next time!
We recently went on vacation to Colorado and had an amazing time. I have been to so many places in the US and internationally, but I had never been to Colorado before. We stayed in Boulder which is about 40 minutes from Denver. I loved the location because we still had plenty of city activities, but we also got some of the best mountain views around. This blog post is not about how beautiful Colorado is, although I could definitely write about that. Instead, I am focusing on the amazing culinary journey that we took while vacationing there.
I am now convinced that Colorado is a foodie paradise. We did not have one single bad food experience. Little side note here, I’ve never really used Yelp to look for places to eat before, but that is what we used while we were in Colorado and it did not disappoint. Yelp is not paying me for this so you can be sure this is 100% my own opinion. In fact, no one is paying me for this, so all these reviews are just based on my own opinion and experiences. Alright enough of that let’s get started. The places below are not listed in any particular order. They are all awesome. I’m hungry just writing this….someone make me a sandwich!
Early Bird Restaurant
We came here for breakfast, and it was so delicious! I love breakfast food, but everything was cooked perfectly and tasted so fresh. Good coffee is important to me, and you could tell their coffee was brewed with care. Our server, Tomas, was very good and friendly as well. He even took a selfie with us! I got the East Boulder which is a puffed omelette with goat cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes. It is topped with a fresh arugula salad and served with perfect crispy potatoes and homemade toast. They bring you a side of amazing berry jam if you ask. David went all in with a breakfast burrito that was bigger than his head! One of our friends had the breakfast tacos which were delicious as well. As always I think pictures speak louder than words.
Hickory & Ash
We liked this place so much that we came back for brunch after having dinner here. This is a fairly new restaurant opened by father and son duo Kevin and Ryan Taylor. Kevin Taylor is a well known chef in the Denver restaurant scene. This is not a super fancy place, but it is a little pricier than your average neighborhood restaurant. The food is plated with a rustic feel which I really like. Our server, Greg, was great and had really good food suggestions for us throughout our meal. My favorite thing by far was the braised meatballs appetizer. The meatballs were so tender and served with the most amazing tomato ragu over a comforting bowl of polenta. Comfort food at its best! I’m pretty sure I could eat that for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. A close second was the pastrami appetizer served with whole grain mustard and roasted brussel sprouts.
Since this is a steakhouse, I feel that I should mention the steak was very good, and the barrel aged whiskey steak sauce that they serve with it is out of this world. They make the sauce in house which is pretty impressive. I wanted to bottle it up and bring it home with me. The other dinner standouts were the braised beef short ribs and twice baked mac and cheese.
For dessert we tried the mascarpone cheesecake, the butterscotch pudding, and the pb&j candy bar. They were all good, but nothing I would come back for. The savory side definitely wins this one. If you find yourself in Broomfield you need to give this place a try. Order the meatballs...you can thank me later.
I am not exaggerating when I say that this might be the best sushi I have ever had. The crazy thing is we never would have looked at this place twice if it weren’t for Yelp. It is in the most unassuming location at a strip mall, and you could easily miss it if you weren’t looking for it. I hope more people are aware that this gem exists so it is still in business next time I visit. Not only is the sushi delicious, but it is also served with the most impressive ice sculptures. The attention to detail in this place makes the experience so worth it. The servers could not have been more friendly, and everything we ate was just exceptional. We had the fried calamari, gyoza, edamame, and a seaweed salad as an appetizer. The calamari was light and tender. The gyoza had great flavor as well and were cooked perfectly. Our selection of rolls included tuna, shrimp, clam, toro, scallop, smoked salmon, and other amazing house roll combinations. We ate and drank sake to our hearts content, and if our trip had been longer we would have definitely been back. Oh well...next time!
Taqueria el Rodeo
This was a wonderful find after a full day of exploring. We were tired and ready for some good food. The lady behind the counter was welcoming and friendly, and we could tell the place had an authentic Mexican vibe right when we walked in. Of course I had to use my Spanish to order our meal! The decor is very colorful and bright with fun painted chairs in the small dining area. We ordered way too much food, but enjoyed every bite. We tried the nachos, different tacos, quesadillas, rice, and refried beans. They had several homemade sauces that ranged from mild to super spicy. The al pastor tacos were my favorite, although I did try the chorizo tacos and they were really good as well. The glass bottle coke and fanta were a perfect pairing for this meal. I mean just look at us...don’t we look so happy eating here?
Yellow Mountain Tea House
We came to this tea house after a full day of adventuring at seven falls near the Broadmoor Hotel. You have to climb 224 very steep metal steps to get to the top of the falls, so we were very tired and hungry by the time we arrived. Disclaimer- if you want to go somewhere and eat really quickly and leave then this is not the place for you. This little tea house offers you more than great tea and delicious dim sum. It offers you a glimpse into the forgotten art of just sitting together and enjoying each other’s company. In the United States this is a rare find.
From the moment we walked into this magical tea store I knew we had found something special. They have a million varieties of teas in glass jars lining their shelves all around the store. When you walk in you are greeted by a quiet girl who runs the store. She sells tea, performs tea ceremonies, and serves you dim sum on request. They have a lady who makes all of their dim sum with organic ingredients and they keep it in the freezer at the store. I wasn’t sure how everything was going to taste, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
We were instructed to pick out three different varieties of tea to bring to our table. We ended up with a coconut blend, a honeysuckle blend, and a blend for sore muscles. My favorite tea was the coconut blend. I regret not bringing some home with me. As our hostess performed the tea ceremony she gave us all some chinese blackberry leaves to try. They were so sweet! We decided to try some of the tea with the blackberry leaves in it as a natural sweetener. They keep a giant bag of the blackberry leaves at the front of the store, so of course I took a picture of it.
The dim sum was incredibly delicious and authentic tasting. Our first dish was xiaolongbao which is a delicious dumpling served over a tiny bowl of soup. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing these little dumplings were! I wanted to eat all of them. We ordered several more dishes including traditional steamed buns and dumplings. The vegetable steamed buns were fluffy and perfectly seasoned. This is one of those places that will stick with me for a long time, and I will definitely be back next time I am in Colorado Springs.
If you love beer, then this is the place for you! This brewery has many varieties of beer and you can do several flight tastings. They just offer snack type food, but it is all very tasty. The soft pretzels are made in house and are delicious and chewy, served with whole grain mustard...yum! Soft pretzels and beer are a wonderful combination. We also had the flatbread margarita pizza and frites (french fries) with spicy ketchup and garlic aioli. Our original plan was to eat a snack there and go somewhere else for dinner, but the snacks were so good we ordered more and decided to skip dinner. Our server was super nice, and we found out she was planning to move to North Carolina! What a small world right?
Are you ready to embark on your own Colorado culinary journey? Now...where’s my sandwich? :)
Until next time!