Archive for the Category »Educational Travel «

Aug
29th
  A Quintessential East Coast Outing Fantastic For Kids This Labor Day

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What could be more representative of the state of Maine than lighthouses and lobsters?

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Throw in a few pairs of latex gloves, an engaging captain, and a little lobster education and you have yourself a fun afternoon lobster fishing on the waters of Maine.

It is still lobster season on the East Coast, where the waters are cold. The season runs until the very end of October. It is BIG business in Maine – in 2012 alone, fishermen caught 123 million lbs of lobster and there are some 3 million traps in Maine’s waters. Applying for a trap is difficult because one has to wait until traps are given up – some stay in the family for years.

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If you ever find yourself looking for something authentic and interesting  to do with your kids in Maine, I recommend hopping aboard “The Lucky Catch,” or another lobster boat offering tours. I took my kids recently, and it was a hands on experience for sure.

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The Lucky Catch is docked in the cute town of Portland, Maine. The boat gives tours May-October.

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Captain Tom is a wonderful teacher along the way – after donning our appropriate lobster fishing duds, we learned about Maine’s lobster industry.

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Captain Tom let the kids bait the traps, and throw them down into the murky waters.

We learned interesting tidbits about harvesting lobster – how the fishermen are required to practice some conservation. If they catch a female with eggs, they have to throw her back.

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While the kids are hard at work setting the traps, adults can simultaneously enjoy the picturesque scenery. Lighthouses, rocky beaches, and traditional New England homes dot the shoreline.

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When it is time to pull up a trap or two, the kids are welcomed right in the action.

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Then, because our little fishermen are THAT good, passengers can buy the lobsters, for a  mere $5.00 each!!! What a deal.

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After our adventure and purchase of one fine lobster, Captain Tom recommended that we walk on over to the Portland Lobster Co. ….Animal lovers – read no further.  The chef will then cook your lobster for you right there, on the spot, and serve it up with corn on the cob and other sides.

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I was sort of excited about  fishing for my own food. However, my kids and I found that shelling and cleaning the lobster is not so easy… and it is much more appetizing to order it in a restaurant where they clean and crack the shell for you!

Overall though, a great family experience.

Some lobster tours in Maine:

Lucky Catch Cruises, Portland, Maine  www.luckycatch.com

Connemara Bay Fishing Charters, Cape Ann, Maine  www.cbcharters.com

Rugosa Lobster Tours, Kennebunkport, Maine  www.rugosalobstertours.com

 
Sep
21st
  Space Shuttle Endeavour’s New Home is a Great Family Outing

Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Final Journey

Over here on the West Coast, Shuttle Endeavour’s final flight to Los Angeles is, well, almost astronomical. Everyone is excited to see it fly above on the back of a 747… and ultimately arrive at it’s new home at the California Science Center in the next couple of weeks. We So Cal residents are lucky to receive such a significant part of our country’s space program.

California Science Center

For now, the retired shuttle will be housed in a temporary location at the California Science Center: the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, in Exposition Park, which opens October 30, 2012. It’s permanent home at the museum is still being built.

Along with the orbiter, the pavilion will feature video experiences and significant artifacts from Endeavour’s flights. Guests will also learn about the building of the space shuttles right here in California.

Buying timed tickets is required – you can go on the ticket information page right now and reserve your date and time. http://www.californiasciencecenter.org/GenInfo/PlanningYourVisit/Hours/endeavour/endeavour.php

Prices are cheap – $2 for a service charge.  Admission to the permanent exhibits in the Science Center are FREE!

Families – it is a worthwhile day-long outing. Also at the Science Center right now is a special 13,000 foot exhibit displays artifacts from Cleopatra’s life, organized by the same producers who brought us the King Tut exhibit.  Really keep the Egypt theme going by then walking 20 yards to the IMAX theater, where “The Mysteries of Egypt” is playing!

TIP: If you are coming this fall, or any autumn for that matter, make sure you look at USC’s football calendar. Memorial Coliseum is right at Exposition Park, and it is crazy crowded when there is a game – not to mention parking becomes a nightmare.

Get your science on and check it out!  www.californiasciencecenter.org

By the way – Social media users are encouraged to share their Endeavour sightings using the hashtags #spottheshuttle and #OV105, Endeavour’s orbiter vehicle designation.

Please share any great photos here or on my Facebook page if you take them!

 
Apr
11th
  100 Years Ago Brought Back to Life: Travel to the Titanic

One hundred years ago this week, the legendary Titanic took its maiden voyage… which turned out to be its last. -More than 1500 people lost their lives the morning of April 15 when the Titanic sunk.

We are still fascinated by this historic tragedy today. And for those especially moved, or even obsessed, there are places you may want to include on your travels with incredible artifacts and current high def footage of the ship laying at the bottom of the ocean.

Titanic Branson

1) Titanic Branson – A museum attraction in Branson MO.

Quite a spectacular entry – a replica of the Titanic near an iceberg… Visitors will get to see more than $4.5 million worth of Titanic artifacts…

climb the “stairway to heaven” – a replica of the grand staircase on the Titanic… explore models of what the different staterooms on board were like…touch an iceberg and feel 28 degree water (most of the people who jumped overboard died of hypothermia)..visit a special room with stories from survivors, and much more.

This spring there are a number of special activities to mark the 100th anniversary – book signings, a Titanic Night sleepover, etc. All of these events are on the website. www.titanicbranson.com

2) The Titanic Experience, Orlando, FL

Redesigned in January 2012 by RMS Titanic, Inc., Titanic The Experience is an Orlando attraction located near Universal Studios, Sea World and Walt Disney World. Visitors can  travel back in time to 100 years ago, where authentic artifacts and interactive storytellers in period costume allow you to visit the unforgettable sights, sounds, and emotions of most famous Ship ever to set sail, Titanic.

This 17 gallery tour includes full scale room re-creations where you visit Titanic’s Grand Staircase, First Class Parlor Suite, Boilers, Captain’s Bridge and Promenade Deck offering a haunting, emotional connection to lives abruptly ended or forever altered.

What is really intriguing is  you can now view more than 400 unique pieces of memorabilia and 100 artifacts recovered from the wreck site of Titanic- 21 on display for the first time.  Pieces include a 3-ton portion of the Ship’s hull, the Captain’s wheel and personal belongings from Titanic’s passengers and crew.

I have never been here before, so I can’t verify if this is more amusement park or historic center since it is located near all the big theme parks. Nonetheless, there seems to be some interesting things to see. www.titanictheexperience.com

3) Finally.. the newest addition with the splashiest architecture! Meet : Titanic Belfast, in Northern Ireland, which just opened its doors last week. It claims to be the world’s largest Titanic attraction. Gorgeous structure and really well done exhibits make this one stand out.

Titanic Belfast extends over nine multi-dimensional galleries, drawing together special effects, dark rides, full-scale reconstructions and interactive features to explore the Titanic story in a fresh and insightful way; from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her infamous maiden voyage and catastrophic demise. The journey goes beyond the aftermath of the sinking, to the discovery of the wreck and continues into the present day with a live undersea exploration center.

From what I can tell, since the Titanic was built in Belfast, there is more emphasis here on that part of the ship’s history than at other museums. The museum is more contemporary in presentation  since it is new, incorporating high tech special effects. www.titanicbelfast.com

For you arm chair travelers, I discovered an interesting website that tells another part of the story – the survivor’s personal stories, even beyond the fateful evening that changed their lives. Many of the survivors could never talk about their experience.

http://cheddarbay.com/0000Tea/Titanic/passengers/survivors/survivors1.html

And of course…. I thought I could get through this post without mentioning the epic film “Titanic”… No Celine Dion music…. just a great line from the movie.

“I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or, who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you… to make each day count. “      Jack Dawson.

 
Feb
03rd
  Taking The Kids To Peru: Day 3 Balancing History and Fun

This week I am blogging about the trip I just took to Peru with Adventures by Disney.  Epic and educational are two words that come to mind as I chronicle the journey day by day.

Moray, Peru

On day 3, we started out at Moray, an archaeological site in Peru… just a bit away from our hotel in the Sacred Valley. The ruins of Moray are visually amazing… Unique circular stone terraces that are enormous, and look vaguely artistic.

The deepest one of these stadium like patterns goes is 98 feet, which can create a temprature difference from top to bottom of 15 degrees. The purpose once again, was for the Incas to experiment with the effect of climatic conditions on crop growth.

The agricultural terraces are characteristic of the Incas. Terracing crops achieved different micro-climates for various growing conditions . I marveled at how much the Incas were so in tune with nature and astronomy,  and smart about farming for abundance.

As you can see in the photo, it was a horribly cold day…. Thank goodness our Disney guides had rain ponchos, but here in Peru, it was easy to find rain ponchos for a mere $5, as street vendors flocked any tourist site.

***TIP: At a location this close to the equator, and this high altitude, you need to wear sunscreen even with complete cloud coverage!

Salt Mines, Peru

From here, we visited the salt pans, where local families have been mining salt for more than 500 years, beginning in Inca times.  The enormity of the project is mind boggling – there are about 5000 baths from which salt is mined after the water evaporates.

This area is especially salty  – just put your finger in and taste. Nearby you can buy the salt produced here, which they say is super saturated…the pink salt is high quality  -  I bought some and can’t wait to try in my cooking!

The kids found some fun things at the gift store here, and liked the salt mines more than Moray’s agriculture terraces.  You can’t hit a home run at every attraction, but if the kids walk away with one nugget of inspiration or new information, I am happy.

The good news about Disney though is that they realize this, and so they balance the fun with the educational. After lunch, the guides took us to the studio one of Peru’s most famous  ceramicists, Seminario.

We got a first hand glimpse at his studio, and met him in person. His work is in the Chicago Field Museum.

This is the type of experience you would not get to  plan on your own, and where having a connected tour operator can enhance your trip tremendously. When you are spending this much money, you want to maximize your bang for your buck.

While we adults learned about the artist, one of his apprentices took the kids and made some clay figurines and plaques with them. Their energy was so relaxed, and they really enjoyed the art project. This is the balance of the day  – fun mixed with culture – to which I was referring that Disney did so well.

At the studio, parrots roamed freely… and monkeys in cages loved flirting with visitors – the kids were enchanted. There was something for everyone here.

More fun to come: Pizza night at the hotel. The kids donned chef’s hats and aprons, and made their own pizzas! They welcomed the “comfort food, ” after trying so many Peruvian dishes.. which is just another great perk of travel.

Tomorrow: The thrill of a lifetime: Visiting Machu Picchu.

www.adventuresbydisney.com

 
Jan
31st
  A Family Adventure of Epic Proportions: Peru

My spiel is to encourage families with children to travel to all sorts of destinations…and still remain sane! At the same time, I realize there are certain locations that would require so much work, planning, schlepping, and research because of the exotic or geographic nature, that we all need a little help.

Enter, stage right : Disney. They own the family brand, and rule the theme parks, but did you know they have a whole family travel division? The Disney cruises are probably the most well-known.

For the next week or so of posts, I am going to blog about the bucket list trip I took to Peru with a lesser known Disney travel area: Adventures by Disney guided vacations. Yes! We took the kids to Peru ….

Machu Picchu, Peru

…climbed the Inca Trail… and got spiritual at Machu Picchu…

Awana Kancha Llama Farm, Peru

….and went loco for llamas at a llama farm.

Was it easy? Surprisingly, yes. If you don’ t believe me, just ask my husband who is a little more the reserved roamer than the passionate pilgrim that I am.

Adventures by Disney organizes tours around the world: See the Great Wall in China…. cruise down the Nile in Egypt… or search for the Big Five in South Africa.

Let me just say that I have never been attracted to organized tours because I have traveled a lot, and like doing things on my own time.  But I was impressed with how much easier an organized tour makes family travel. Do you get to pick your own hotels? No. The restaurants? Not all of the time. Make your own schedule? Nope.

However… Travel stress melts away as everything is organized for you – your hotels booked: Check. Luggage picked up at airport and you don’t have to even TOUCH it : Check. Transportation from airport to hotels, to attractions: Check . Check. Check. Key in a third world country like Peru.

Pisac Market, Peru

You also save countless hours in planning and researching every activity and hotel…and with a little Disney magic, you can avoid crowds at some of the most packed tourist attractions, and have access to true treasures otherwise off the tourist trail.

If your idea of vacation is to move around a lot, learn a bout other cultures,  be chauffeured around the world without a worry, and mingle with other families – then this is something you might want to consider.

If you like slower pace with lounging at a pool – that is a different trip, and frankly,  you don’ t need to pay to have guides show you that. There was little down time on the tour I took -  This is a special immersive experience for which you have to have the energy.

Disney Guide and Jr Adventurer

If you don’t think you have the energy, you almost certainly will once you arrive because if Disneyland is the happiest place on earth…then the Disney adventure guides are definitely the happiest people on earth. They have the personalities and patience to have fun with the kids from all different time zones, and at the same time work hard to make sure the adults have ever single thing they need, without ever breaking a sweat.

In our group, an American Disney guide was paired with a couple local Peruvian, Disney-trained guides. The American guide  is the heart and soul if you will…. and the local guides are well versed in their country’s history, know the language and customs, and can answer all questions. We tried really hard to stump ours – it became a game – “Stump Ernesto.”

If you do consider a guided tour for any trip, here are some things to think about:

1) Make sure the destination is age appropriate for your children. Only you know your child best. For example, I would recommend waiting until your child is 7 or 8 to go to Peru. Not only will they get more out of it, but if they are bored or fidgety, you will not have a great time.

2) If you think the price sounds expensive, try itemizing what it would cost to go it alone at comparable quality hotels and attractions.  Often these tours sound expensive, but are better-priced because they have the power to negotiate good rates since they bring in more business… and some mistakes you may make with transportation, etc could cost you more in the long run. Plus, you have little extras that you may not even think about when calculating the cost of your trip- Disney had water bottles for us whenever we needed.

3) Find  a tour group that fits your personality. Adventure? Scholarly? Volunteer-oriented? Family? Disney for example, makes family the focus.

4) If it is an international trip, I would highly recommend flying in a day before the tour begins to adjust to any time difference. Trust me, it is worth any extra money. If you are a zombie at the beginning of the trip, it is hard to recover.

Now that you have a general idea of a family vacation option, the next few days will take you on a more personal look at my vacation of epic proportions…a day by day journal of our adventure through Peru. From river rafting, to hiking the Inca Trail overlooking Machu Picchu, it was a trip we will always carry with us.

www.adventuresbydisney.com

 
Sep
27th
  Tues. Travel Tip: Not 2 Late for New England Leaves & an Upscale Farm to Visit While You’re There

Vermont

It would be easy for anyone who watched the news during Hurricane Irene to think the state of Vermont was floating away. Yes, there was significant damage for many, and a few roads are still closed. But according to Greg Gerdel of Vermont’s Dept of Travel and Tourism, the storm directly impacted only 15% of the state.

I was there for the storm and luckily it wasn’t bad in Stowe. But – Gerdel says there were a rash of leaf peeping reservations that were cancelled as a result. I want to tell you that it’s not too late to book a room for a fall trip. There are availabilities, and you can go plenty of beautiful places that aren’t feeling Irene after affects. www.vermontvacation.com has detailed maps with updates of road closures… and links to lodging.

Vermont Fall Foliage

Vermont is one of the most quaint and gorgeous place to witness the splendor of the season. What I have always loved about Vermont is that there are no billboards on the highways  and most are lined with trees.

Vermont Fall Foliage

In the northern part of the state, the leaves are already changing color. The colors will move south and will last almost until the end of October. But in the Burlington area near Lake Champlain, the “late effect” keeps that area warmer, so leaves will change later than nearby areas.

Shelburne Farms, Vermont

If you do get to the Burlington area, there is so much to do – but don’t miss Shelburne Farms, a National Historic Landmark. When the farm was established in the late 1800s, it was ahead of it’s time, aspiring to become a model agricultural estate; a working farm that emphasized sustainability.

Shelburne Farms, Vermont

Today, it is still a 1400 acre working farm teaching others about the connections to the land – an awesome lesson to reinforce to my city slicker kids. For instance, we walked around the barn …

and  got to milk goats and cows. Every morning the raw milk goes to the farm’s cheese plant, where award winning cheddar is produced.

We then toured the cheesemaking area, and watched the process – from cow’s udder to the curdling vats.. direct connection. Shelburne makes about 130,000 lbs of cheese  – all from their cows’ milk.

The farm raises all their animals with no anti-biotics and are grass fed… and man, can you see the healthy difference in the chickens there.

Seriously, they look healthier than my adorable dog.

Kids love being able to “pet” the chickens, and collect the eggs, which goes to feed the guests at the inn on the farm. Same with all the vegetables and other foods grown on the land.

For more: www.shelburnefarms.org

Whether watching leaves change… or at home on the range… Vermont offers so much for visitors, and fall is a fabulous time to visit.

 
Sep
21st
  Where to Take Your Kids Before They Move Out.

School is back in session.. life is getting back to routine. My oldest started middle school… so last spring’s 5th grade graduation was a milestone for me: He was leaving the nurturing nest of our sweet elementary school.

Actually, it was compounded by the fact that my youngest graduated kindergarten just the day before… the stark contrast between the 5 year olds and 10 year olds made me realize they grow so fast. So me, being sentimental, started to think that – OMG – the empty nest doesn’t seem too far away. A bit dramatic? Maybe.

Have you thought about what you want your life to be when you are an empty-nester? (That is another blog post!) Or…have you thought about what you want to do with your kids while you still have them at home? Where would you like to take family vacations before they are too busy… or have moved away? You only have so many chances to create indelible travel moments together.

I have thought about this. Everyone is different, but there are some general themes that would make for memorable family get aways.

1) I will start with the most obvious, and probably easiest: Hit the beach. Rent a beach house, plant your toes in the sand, BBQ at sunset, play on the beach, and bring board games. With just simple pleasures, there are many opportunities for bonding time. Hawaii will also work here – there is nothing like getting to an island – can’t recreate that vibe as much as I have tried. Hawaii is the easiest for many reasons: With kids you want things simple, and it is an English speaking, American state…. everything is pretty convenient. Cue the sea breeze please.

2) Brave a World-Class Big City or Two. World class museums, taxis zipping by, wonderful parks. I would put New York City, Paris, London, and Rome on that list. San Francisco too – but it is more laid back.

You can also find many free things to do in large cities – take advantage of free days at museums, the many free activities in parks from puppet shows to concerts to playgrounds. When I took my kids to Paris, it was unbelievable how long we could sit in a park and watch our kids play on all the play areas so different than anything we have in America, as well as multi-generational pick-up games of soccer that they joined.

3) Sneak in a History Lesson: Everyone would love their children to have a sense of the world, and historic moments. Seeing is believing over just learning in textbooks. Some locations steeped in history make awesome family vacations. Did I mention Rome? I am again. The birthplace of Western civilization, there are many a history lesson to be found here. There are tours about Julius Caesar… and standing relics of ancient Rome like the Forum and Coliseum. Vatican city is important whether you are a practicing Catholic or not  - what a statement it makes about organized religion, and it’s importance to many people. No to mention, the art history lesson there…the Sistine Chapel and the architecture of Basilica di San Pietro.

Also on my list: Greece, Washington DC – tour the capitol and White House, visit the monuments, and if you have time go to Gettysburg, Boston, or London.

4) Lions and Tigers and Bears and Nature. Expose your kids to the good old outdoors, and all the creatures that call  it home. Kids love animals – even teens find them interesting. In Alaska, I met some teens who said Alaska was their best family vacation – believe me, if you’ve been to Alaska, you know how original it is compared to the rest of America. Bear viewing, kayaking with bald eagles, hiking glaciers are all possible in the Last Frontier.

Easier to get to for most, are our national parks. Yellowstone may be one of the best I’ve visited for animal viewing, along with being an incredible geological lab for all! Your kids will love the spouting geysers, bubbling mudpots, and hissing steam vents… Yellowstone has the greatest concentration of thermal features in the country—nearly 10,000 of them.

There is also the Galapagos Islands – home of the blue-footed booby, the Great Barrier Reef for some amazing viewing of marine life, and Africa for an organized safari, which is better for older kids.

5) Lastly – it is a rite of passage for a child to visit a theme park. You only capture that thrill for a short time, so indulge them, no matter how crowded and how bad the food.:)

Some of these trips can be done on a budget. Forgive me if I have missed some other potential trips.

But now, you have time, and hopefully inspiration to plan for next summer… these are trips that will last a lifetime.

 
Sep
07th
  A Moving Tribute You’ll Want to See

While I am sure this week you will be reading many heart-wrenching articles honoring the lives of those souls we lost… and see unveiling of memorials 10 years after the tragedy of 9/11, I want to include one small bit of interesting travel information to the whole reflective landscape.

No doubt many who visit New York City after this Sunday will pay homage to the new memorial at the site of the Twin Towers. But one other riveting item that would be moving to see is at Battery Park. If you happen to do some sightseeing and take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island… or take the Staten Island Ferry, you will be in the vicinity of the Sphere sculpture, by artist Fritz Koenig.

The Sphere, Battery Park, NY

I saw it recently, and had never heard about it. It is a sculpture that was in the plaza of the Twin Towers for three decades, and somewhat “survived” the brutal wreckage of 9/11. It symbolizes hope… and the indestructible spirit of Americans.

It is chilling, however, to see the dents, bent metal, and charred parts of the sculpture – a tangible reminder of that terrible day. It touches you to see something left from the horror, something that was there, that actually got away relatively intact…but not without deep scars. Truly art imitating life.

It has been moved to Battery park for people to see, and honor those who died in the event…Definitely moving us… And hopefully helping to heal some of our scars.

 
Apr
14th
  Launch into This Educational Family Attraction Just in Time for Lift-Off
One of the “must see” places to take your family, especially if you are one of the many who make the pilgrimage to Orlando Florida’s theme parks, is the Kennedy Space Center, just 35 miles east of Orlando. Authentic exhibitions, mixed with some fun, make for an engaging and educational experience. NASA’s center in Cape Canaveral is the base from which space shuttles and Apollo moon missions have launched into space.

Shuttle Launch at Kennedy Space Center

Right now, it is an exceptionally exciting time for the KSC to be on your radar - this April 29 at 3:47 EST is the target date for the space shuttle Endeavour to make it’s trip to the International Space Station. According to the center’s website, tickets to watch this from the launch base itself are sold out… but if you visit the website it lists other off-site launching viewing venues – www.kennedyspacecenter.com.
If you can’t get a good glimpse of Endeavour, then try again for the final shuttle launch ever  – Atlantis on June 28th. After that, NASA is retiring the 30 year space shuttle program , and the shuttles will become museum pieces.

Kennedy Space Center

I took my family to the KSC  last summer, and while it was hard to cover everything in one day, we hit many of the highlights that I will share with you right now.
The IMAX theater, with daily space related films. We saw “Hubble 3D” and it was an interesting look at space study… with stunning images from the Hubble Telescope. The kids especially remembered how astronauts train for a space travel in a swimming pool.
The Astronaut Encounter – I highly recommend this. A real-life astronaut answers questions on person… there is one there every day. This exchange between visitors and the brave men and women who fly into the celestial skies really makes it real, and personalizes the experience when astronauts talk about what they eat, if they were afraid, etc.  TIP: If you have daughters (or sons!) , try to go when there is a female astronaut speaking. What a great role model for your kids to see. The website provides the date and names of astronauts appearing.
Space Shuttle Plaza – There is a full-size NASA space shuttle replica. You can also experience what it is like going into space in the shuttle in the “Shuttle Launch Experience.” Once inside the replica shuttle, you will move and shake as if you were really taking off… all while narration from a former astronaut walking you through the feelings and procedures.

Rocket Garden

Rocket Garden – Spectacular scenery at sunset – and very few places have as beautiful sunsets as I saw in Florida. Here there are many rockets displayed… and you can climb aboard capsules to see how cramped the quarters are.
There are also guided bus tours that are not included with the general price of admission, which is $43 plus tax for adults, and $33 plus tax for children 3-11. The special tours can be up to 3 or four hours long, so plan your day accordingly. The “Discover KSC: Today and Tomorrow” tour… and the “Cape Canaveral: Then and Now” tour both can sell out so reservations are highly recommended. TIP: If you want to go on both tours, a two-day visit is a must.
One more Big Colossal Tip: Take your kids here BEFORE you even step near the theme parks in Orlando. Unless your child is the type to naturally play with atom splitters, it is hard to drag them away from the Pirates of the Caribbean to see the heroes of our country, unfortunately…
If you just can’t get enough of the final frontier, all the shuttles will be in museums across the country once the program is retired with the return of Atlantis. NASA reported that the space shuttle Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida; the Endeavour, at the California Science Center in Los Angeles; the Discovery, at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia; and the test shuttle, Enterprise, at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.
Launch into your next trip now!
 
Mar
08th
  Do You Believe In Destiny? One Place Where Thousands Have Written Their Own Story…

From The Adjustment Bureau

If you don’t think like a scientist, but instead let your heart lead, go see “The Adjustment Bureau.” Great premise that lingers long after you leave the theater.

If you haven’t been privy to any of the massive marketing for this movie, it stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, a couple, who like magnets, keep appearing in each others lives, and risk everything to “rewrite” the plan that life has pre-set for them.

If you are fatalistic, you  believe that there’s nothing you can do to change your path. However, the message of this film, without getting to “woo-woo” is that sometimes the energy to follow a different path is so great, that you should listen.

The Statue of Liberty appears in the movie at a pivotal time  – at the climax when we don’t know if the couple will prevail. Metaphor? I couldn’t miss the symbolism – it is the first thing thousands of people saw as they arrived on Ellis Island….rewriting the story they were born into by risking it all and coming to America. The American Museum of Immigration is also on Liberty Island.

Since it is Lady Liberty’s 125th birthday this year, it might be time to take the family to New York for an educational but still fun experience.

Begin with the boat ride over from Manhattan’s Battery Park – kids love looking back at the city, and being on the water. Then, once on Liberty Island, you can view the statue’s magnificent construction, learn about its history in the museum and discover the spectacular views from the top of the pedestal (Visitors must be able to climb 24 steps after exiting the elevator to reach the pedestal observatory). You can also buy special “Crown Tickets” to go all the way up to the crown – highly recommended if you aren’t afraid of heights.

Even without Pedestal/Museum or Crown Tickets, visitors can follow ranger-led walking tours of the island. An audio tour, available in nine languages, provides interesting commentary about Lady Liberty, her history, and significance as a worldwide symbol of freedom. A 30-minute tour of Liberty Island explores outside the Statue, and a special children’s tour is offered in five languages. Audio tours can be purchased from Statue Cruises along with ferry tickets or on site at the Discovery Audio booth.

Entry to the monument pedestal is by Pedestal/Museum Ticket only, which is available in advance with the purchase of a Reserve Ticket online at www.statuecruises.com or by calling 1-877-LADY TIX or 1-877-523-9849.

Nearby Ellis Island, also part of the Statue of Liberty National Park, is also worth a visit – but younger children may have a hard time appreciating the significance and the museum. There is a 45 minute audio tour where the immigrant experience comes to life,  and thank goodness one especially for children. You can see interesting artifacts, and even research your family’s immigration history.

Like the main characters of  “The Adjustment Bureau,” those immigrants who passed through Ellis Island hundreds of years ago must have believed they had the power to influence the story of their lives.

I don’t think there are any coincidences in life. Some things are put in front of you for a reason.  But our actions do matter. It is what you do with the situations or gifts life presents that determine your destiny.  You can re-set your purpose. Your life is in your hands… Live it fully.