Riding High on Vegas’ New High Roller Observation Wheel

Last week, I took my daughters to Las Vegas for a family-friendly trip in Sin City. While the adventure had its hitches — a flat tire in Barstow and no in-room Wi-Fi access at the Excalibur — it had its highlights as well. Nothing beats hanging out with good friends in a fun place. One thing we definitely wanted to try was Las Vegas’ new observation wheel, the High Roller, at the Linq shopping complex, which is also brand-new.

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Tickets for the High Roller can be purchased at TheLinq.com.

Mother’s Day Brunch in L.A.

Craft is taking reservations for Mother's Day. // (c) 2014 Craft Los Angeles
Craft is taking reservations for Mother’s Day. // (c) 2014 Craft Los Angeles

Mother’s Day is one of the most popular days of the year to eat out. So finding a place where you can get a reservation is key — especially if you have a large party. Thankfully, Open Table has put together a fantastic list of restaurants that use its service, making it easy to book online, in advance and even from your phone. It includes a wide variety of options from steakhouses to oceanfront dining. A standout for me was Craft Los Angeles, one of my favorite L.A. restaurants. Find the list on Open Table. Is your favorite restaurant on the list? Tell us where your favorite restaurants are for Mother’s Day in the comments.


Retreat of the Week: Turnberry Isle Miami

If you are headed to Miami this summer, Turnberry Isle is catering to families with a package that pottery-painting, scavenger hunts and sand-castle building for kids.

Turnberry Isle Miami is offering a Family Fun package. // (c) 2014 Turnberry Isle Miami
Turnberry Isle Miami is offering a Family Fun package. // (c) 2014 Turnberry Isle Miami

Families are invited to channel their inner-Picasso through a pottery-painting experience and cool off in the resort’s 7,500 square-foot Laguna Pool with a 180-foot long, 35-foot-high waterslide that winds around into a splash pool. There is also an 800-linear-foot lazy river with single and double innertubes, a separate hot tub and a toddler wading pool. The Family Fun Package is available from June 1-Sept. 30, and includes the following: 

–          Accommodations in a spacious Deluxe Room with king or double beds and pullout sofa bed

–          $50 daily resort credit

–          Color Me Mine at Alisa’s Painted Bistro pottery experience (includes up to two ceramic items and paint time for two, per stay)

–          Daily American breakfast buffet for two adults in Cascata Grill

–          Milk and cookies at turndown the first night

–          Overnight valet parking

–          20 percent off Pool Cabanas

–          20 percent off Beach Sports, including Kayaks, Paddle Boards and Jet Skis

–          10 percent off Select Children Programs

–          Scavenger Hunts on Fridays (offered June 9 – August 15)

–          Laguna Lawn Sports on Saturdays and Sundays

–          Sandcastle-Building on Wednesdays


How to Travel Like a Royal in New Zealand

Your family can travel like a royal in New Zealand. // (c) 2014 Tourism New Zealand
Your family can travel like a royal in New Zealand. // (c) 2014 Tourism New Zealand

The royal family has taken on New Zealand and so can you. If you were wondering where to go on your own Kiwi adventure, you can follow this 13-day itinerary from the New Zealand Visitors Bureau.

Following in the footsteps of the Duke and Duchess, travelers might be interested in visiting:
North Island
Auckland – Known as the “City of Sails” Auckland is a vibrant city of harbors, beaches and islands; its Harbor has hosted two America’s Cup campaigns, and is also where Duchess Kate recently beat her husband in a sailing race!
Hobbiton – An enchanting village of perfectly-formed Hobbit holes, Hobbiton is the must see Middle-Earth filming location for all Lord of the Rings fans.
Rotorua – A fascinating place of Maori culture and geothermal wonders, Rotorua lies on the Volcanic Plateau and is home to both Te Puia (the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute) and the world-famous Pohutu Geyser.
Wellington – New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, is nestled between a sparkling, expansive harbor and emerald green hills. Famed for its arts, culture, cuisine and natural beauty, Wellington is also home to New Zealand’s national museum (Te Papa) and Zealandia – a unique eco-sanctuary for native animals.
South Island 
Blenheim – The sunny town of Blenheim is known for its vineyards and artisan food culture but perhaps most renowned for its fascinating Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, one of the world’s largest private collections of Great War aircraft and artifacts. The royal couple, escorted by Sir Peter Jackson, made sure to visit!
Marlborough Sounds – On the doorstep of Blenheim, the beautiful Marlborough Sounds is home to emerald-green inlets, white sandy bays and crystal- clear water. The perfect waters for a leisurely boat cruise!
Christchurch – Known as the “gateway to the South Island”, Christchurch is a resilient city rapidly recovering from the devastation of its 2011 earthquake. It’s set to hold the opening match of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Francophiles should make time to also visit the nearby boutique town of Akaroa, a charming place infused with French culture and cuisine.
Queenstown – One of the country’s most popular visitor destinations, set on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu at the foot of a huge mountain range, Queenstown is known as the home of adrenaline activities in New Zealand, from bungy jumping to the Shotover jet-boat ride enjoyed by the Duke and Duchess! (See photo below.) Queenstown is also a destination for luxury experiences – from gourmet cuisine to spa treatments, the perfect bit of pampering to conclude a royal travel experience.
Suggested Activities: 
  • Sail Auckland’s harbor aboard one of Team New Zealand’s successful America’s Cup yachts;
  • Tour the enchanting village of Hobbiton, the filming location built exclusively for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings andThe Hobbit Trilogy;
  • Explore the enchanting Waitomo Caves, a labyrinth of underground caverns twinkling with glowworms;
  • Visit the world-famous Pohutu Geyser in Rotorua, and enjoy a traditional Maori feast and cultural performance in Mitai Maori Village;
  • Stroll through the fascinating Omaka Aviation Heritage Center in Blenheim, home to one of the world’s largest private collections of Great War aircraft and artifacts;
  • Take a spectacular Shotover Jet boat ride across the beautiful waterways of Lake Wakatipu.
For more details and an example itinerary, please visit: http://www.newzealand.com/us/trips-and-driving-itineraries/all-nz/fit-for-a-royal/


Carnival Attracts Kids With Camp Ocean

Carnival's new Camp Ocean // (c) 2014 Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival’s new Camp Ocean // (c) 2014 Carnival Cruise Lines

Family cruising just got even more fun with Carnival Cruise Lines. It unveiled Camp Ocean a new marine-themed children’s program coming to its fleet. If you are setting sail this summer, Camp Ocean is set to debut on Carnival Freedom on May 24. The new program will immerse children ages 2-11 in the wonders of the sea through fun, engaging and educational experiences. More than 200 new ocean-inspired activities will range from educational games, such as Sea Creature Discovery, Marine Life Trivia, Under the Sea Mad Libs and Ocean Artifacts Memory Tray, to creative arts opportunities such as Design Your Own Aquarium, Make Your Own Sailboat, Sea Salt Art, and Create a Penguin from Oreos.

Camp Ocean, which replaces Camp Carnival, will welcome youngsters with light blue and white underwater colored spaces and friendly, experienced staff. Three age-related categories will each have their own identity: children ages 2-5 will be dubbed “Penguins,” with those ages 6-8 called “Sting Rays” while 9-11 year olds will be “Sharks.”

The new Camp Ocean activities span across 11 key categories of play, including the core themes of active play, games, free play, arts and crafts and digital, coupled with additional categories such as role play, music, party time, science and discovery, social and food fun, all designed to find the ideal combination of activities catering to children’s varied interests.

Carnival will also introduce a Badge Challenge as part of Camp Ocean, which will provide the opportunity for kids to earn and collect badges as a special memento of their cruise.  Badge challenges will include a variety of unique activities that provide an original way for kids to learn about their vessel, experience onboard adventures and gain a sense of accomplishment. After completing tasks which may include trying a new food, making an aquatic towel animal or riding the water slide, children will collect corresponding Camp Ocean badges.