Travel to a Vegas Winter Wonderland With the Family

Christmas at the Bellagio // (c) 2013 Ken Lund
Christmas at the Bellagio // (c) 2013 Ken Lund

It’s going to be a happy holiday season in Las Vegas, as well as a well-lit one and there is no better time for a family to travel to Sin City. With ice rinks and light shows to culinary indulgences and stunning shows, Las Vegas strikes a perfect balance between pleasure and parenting. Here’s a rundown of what’s going on around town:

Holiday Lights

The Neon Museum is getting into the spirit this year and will light up Nov. 30-Dec. 31.

The menorah will be lit at Downtown Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience on Nov. 27. A Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be held there as well on Dec. 11.

The Bellagio will unveil its winter wonderland on Dec. 6. The centerpiece is Las Vegas’ largest indoor holiday tree standing at 45-feet tall and weighing 8,000 pounds. Also on display is an eight-foot reindeer crafted of chocolate and a life-size candy house.

Glittering Lights will take place at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Nov. 15-Jan. 5.

Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall will host the Mystic Falls Light Park and Water Show on Nov. 27 and will also be home to Cowboy Santa from Nov. 29-Dec. 23.

Winter Activities

The Cosmopolitan will transform its Boulevard Pool into an ice rink through Jan. 5

Wynn Las Vegas’ pastry chefs will help guests create their own gingerbread design adorned with delicious confections on Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.Or toast to the season with The Twelve Cocktails of Christmas starting Dec. 9 through Dec. 24(weekdays only).

The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas will host their third-annual Winter in Venice celebration, running Nov. 18 through Jan. 5. The  Italian-inspired experience includes a parade, a tree-lighting ceremony, a 3-D light projection show, the return of the picturesque skating rink above The Venetian’s romantic outdoor Grand Canal and more.

Terry Fator’s A Very Terry Christmas is playing at the Mirage until Dec. 24 with the curtain going up at 7:30 p.m.

Fun With Food

Hotels and resorts around Las Vegas are hosting lavish Thanksgiving Day meals inspired by celebrity chefs from around the world including Gordon Ramsey and Jean Georges.

Special Christmas menus are available at Table 10 inside The Palazzo Las Vegas, Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian Las Vegas, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House located at MGM Grand Las Vegas, Dragon Noodle Co. & Sushi Bar and d.vino Italian Food & Wine Bar at Monte Carlo.

For more information on family travel to Las Vegas this winter and holiday events, visit

Cyber Monday Travel Deals in Europe

Rail travel is even more affordable this Cyber Monday. // (c) 2013 Ignis
Rail travel is even more affordable this Cyber Monday. // (c) 2013 Ignis

You can give the gift of European rail travel this holiday season with travel deals on Cyber Monday offered by Rail Europe. One of the best gifts I ever received in my late teens was a Eurail Pass. It allowed me and a friend to explore the classic European cities to our hearts content without having to worry about hefty ticket prices to get from one city to the next. And it’s not just for your college-age children, rail travel is so reliable and readily available throughout Europe (and beyond) that families might find riding the rails even more convenient than traveling by car.

For families ready for a European adventure, this Cyber Monday — Dec. 2, 2013 — through Dec. 6, Rail Europe is offering special pricing on passes throughout Europe.

FREE Vatican/Rome City Card with the purchase of Trenitalia tickets

  • Valued at more than $130, the Vatican Rome City Card allows for fast-track entry into the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and a choice of the St. Peter’s Basilica or Vatican Gardens Tour. It also includes entry into any two of Rome’s favorite attractions: the Coliseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum, Capitolini Museums, Borghese Gallery or National Museum of Castel St. Angelo. Travelers also will enjoy free access to a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Use coupon code: ROMEFREE during checkout to receive the free city card.

$100 off Global and Select Eurail Passes with Coupon Code CYBER2013

  • The best-selling Eurail Global Pass offers unlimited First Class train travel in more than 20 European countries, while the Select Pass gives you the option to choose extensive rail travel on the national rail networks of 3, 4, or 5 adjoining countries connected by train or ship.  Use coupon code CYBER2013 at checkout.

Rail Europe Gift Cards

  • For the first time, Rail Europe is offering gift cards for rail travel. For Cyber Monday, you can purchase $250 or $500 gift cards and receive an extra $50 on the card.



Travelzoo Launches Interactive Map App for Kids

Travelzoo has launched an interactive map of the world in the iTunes store. // (c) 2013 Travelzoo
Travelzoo has launched an interactive map of the world in the iTunes store. // (c) 2013 Travelzoo

I love nothing more than bringing the world to life to my children. We have the map on the wall with pins marking all of the places we have traveled to, we have puzzles of maps, we let the girls try to navigate on road trips (this has made for some interesting pit stops). Just in time for the holidays, Travelzoo has launched a new map app, available in the iTunes store, for iPads. The app isn’t just a map of the globe, but is designed to inspire children to get to know the world in which they live.

The launch of Travelzoo’s latest iPad app coincides with the findings of a recent Travelzoo-commissioned multiple-choice quiz involving 3,000 school-age children across the United States, Canada and Great Britain.  The results suggest that, while the vast majority of children know their geography, there is room for improvement across the board.

“Travelzoo’s Map the World is an excellent tool for teaching children about the countries of the world in an engaging way,” said Sir Ranulph Fiennes, described by The Guinness Book of Records as the world’s greatest living explorer.  “It should help young minds learn and inspire them to explore this magical planet.  It’s an app designed to challenge, inspire and, above all, make a difference to the lives of others.”

The app also gets families into the spirit of the season of giving. The game introduces players to Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. Through a giving-back program, Travelzoo is encouraging parents to donate $1 or more to Open Arms Malawi, a charitable organization that provides medical attention, shelter, education, food and love to some ofMalawi’s 1,000,000 orphaned and abandoned children.


The Turkey Task Force to Aid Holiday Travelers

Turkey Task Force on the case at LAX for holiday travelers.
Turkey Task Force on the case at LAX for holiday travelers.

Travelocity’s Turkey Task Force will once again be on hand to assist holiday travelers. The 13th annual Turkey Task Force team of travel experts  will be stationed at the country’s 10 busiest airports providing airport status reports, travel tips, money-saving advice and other helpful information via Twitter and live television interviews the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving.

Travelers can follow @Travelocity using the hashtag #TTF2013 to stay up-to-date on happenings at the airport, and will also have the opportunity to win prizes throughout the two-day campaign by participating in the conversation.

Airlines expect to top 25.1 million passengers over the Thanksgiving holiday, making 2013 the busiestThanksgiving season for flyers since 2010, according to Airlines for America. U.S. airlines added 2 percent more seats this year to accommodate the growing demand, so travelers should anticipate crowded airports and flights to be as full as last year (about 85 percent full on the busiest days).

The Turkey Task Force will be at the following airports providing travel updates:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International  ( Atlanta )
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (Charlotte)
  • Chicago O’Hare ( Chicago )
  • Dallas / Fort Worth International ( Dallas )
  • Denver International Airport  ( Denver )
  • McCarran International Airport ( Las Vegas )
  • Los Angeles International Airport ( Los Angeles )
  • LaGuardia Airport ( New York )
  • San Francisco International Airport ( San Francisco )
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport ( Washington, DC )

Winter Dreams Come True With Disney’s New World of Color

Disney World of Color Winter Dreams with Frozen's Olaf // (c) 2013 Disney
Disney World of Color Winter Dreams with Frozen’s Olaf // (c) 2013 Disney

I feel very lucky to have been invited to attend the new World of Color – Winter Dreams at Disney California Adventure and it was made even more fun since I was able to see the show through the eyes of my 4-year-old daughter…quite literally actually, since she was sitting on my shoulders for most of the show. Her excitement at the site of Olaf from the yet-to-be-released movie “Frozen” is a testament to Disney’s marketing machine. Her shouts of “Olaf” and knowledge of the story behind the movie shocked me. I have no idea what it’s about, but she knows all about good queens and bad ones and the story of this little snowman, who leads guests through the new World of Color – Winter Dreams.

The show begins with the Honor Choir singing “Glow”, which was specially written for the World of Color. Then Olaf takes guests on a winter sleigh ride where he meets Bambi, Thumper and the sisters “Frozen”  — Anna and Elsa. This leads to a visual projection of holiday cards created by Disneyland Resort guests and cast members, which I thought was a unique personal touch for the season. Following, however, was my favorite part…The “Toy Story” Nutcracker with its offbeat rendition of the classic play as performed by Woody, Buzz, Jesse and company. It’s adorable, and I really hope that it’s made into a television short as it would definitely be a part of my essential holiday viewing list. I won’t post any real spoilers about what happens except that Rex wears a tutu…don’t miss it.

The show wraps with a holiday sing-a-long, a blazing light display and closes with the Honor Choir. A holiday visit to Disneyland Resorts is a must for many SoCal residents and, if you do go this year, World of Color – Winter Dreams is a must-do. Don’t forget to pick up fast passes for the show when you arrive to ensure you don’t miss out.