Archive for the Category »sports travel «

  A Slam Dunk for Basketball Fans

Who ya rooting for – UConn or Kentucky?  Big day in college basketball today.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame from

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame from

But if you just can’t get enough of the sport after the championship game, consider visiting the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. It is a fun-filled stop on an East Coast summer vacation to the New England area… and easy access to anyone who already lives on the East Coast. And don’t you just love the architecture?

Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Located in the town where basketball was invented, the hoops haven honors more than 300 former player inductees…. and has 40,000 square feet of basketball history. There are hundreds of interactive exhibits – with live clinics and skills challenges making it very hands on for kids… and who am I kidding? Adults too.

Other fun exhibits : The budding sportscaster can record on video a news read in front of the cameras… or he/she can play in a hoops challenge.

During the summer, there is a program called “60 Days of Summer,” – This summer players Mitch Richmond, Brevin Knight, and Bill Cartwright to name a few will make appearances and sign autographs.

A great family stop if you are a hoop dreamer or not. The Hall of Fame is about an hour and forty minute drive from Boston.



  Travel Tip Tuesday: Hit The Slopes For Less… Now!

I live in Southern California, where many sun lovers aren’t excited about rain – Their consolation is “Oh well…we need it…”

Here’s another  positive thought:  That means snow in the mountains! You skiiers and boarders can appreciate that!

IMG_0811But skiing ain’t cheap – especially if you are skiing as a family.

IMG_0860One way to save money on lodging is to… go now!  No, I really mean, like, right now. If there is snow, the best deals are to be found today- after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. I know it doesn’t seem realistic in our crazy lives,and some of you may have just returned from a Thanksgiving trip.  But someone’s gotta go!  if you can make room in your calendar,  scroll to the bottom for some specials.

On the other end – try renting a ski home right after the new year, say January 5 – 10 for example. First of all – there are more available, especially mid-week.  I spent time on one of my favorite ski rental websites - – and found beautiful homes that are totally booked between Christmas and New Year’s… but the week after is wide open, and less money.

Once again, I totally understand may not be realistic for families with kids in school, but those with young children, or those attending school with longer breaks, this is a good time to test the powder :)

Pray for a good snow season!

Here are some red hot specials going on NOW – (found in Outside Magazine

Snowbird has ski-in/ski-out lodging and lift tickets for $99/person before December 19.

Buy one night at any Winter Park Resort property between November 13 and December 20 and get a second night for half-price. Or, book at least two nights of lodging at regular price and get a free kid’s (ages 6-12) lift ticket with the purchase of an adult lift ticket, valid until December 19.

Steamboat’s Boat Launch pass sets you up for three days skiing between Thanksgiving and December 21 for just $129.

Sun Valley’s Pre-Holiday Package runs from November 28 through December 20 and features lodging and a lift ticket for $85 per person.

  Hotel of the Week: This Year’s Best Ski Hotel


Conde Nast Traveler has it’s list of the top 50 ski hotels out – and the hotel ranked number one is… drum roll…the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain in Avon, Colorado.


The results are from a magazine poll of its readers, and each hotel was rated on criteria such as Terrain and Conditions, Apres Ski Activities, Overall Design, Location, Rooms, etc.


What I find particularly great is that the hotel offers direct access to Beaver Creek skiing – you can take a gondola to the slopes right out the hotel’s back door – or take a  shuttle that comes to the hotel. When you return, there is a ski valet to store your equipment and warm up your boots for the next day on the slopes!

Vail, CO from

After shooshing it up on the mountain, you might want to visit the 27,000 square foot spa…. and then go into charming nearby Vail village (about 14 miles away) which has plenty of shopping and dining to wow you, in a stylish European way that is still not over the top. Beaver Creek is even closer and full of activities too – including an outdoor ice rink.

Westin Riverfront Suite, from

For families, there are all sorts of accommodations – from traditional rooms to one, two,a nd three bedroom suites.  Skiing is a lot of work when you bring kids, so if you can afford to be more comfortable in your room, that is a luxury.

The hotel is offering some specials right now – stay two nights get the third one free…

But first, let’s pray for a good snow season. I remember when I lived in San Francisco, I would never get sad when it rained, because it meant snow in nearby Tahoe for a weekend trip. Let’s hope there is more snow than last year in all of our resorts!

  Hotel of the Week: Olympic Glory in the Rockies

The first time I visited the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs Colo, I thought it was just another big hotel. I slowly realized I was wrong, as it has a lot of charm and old-fashioned class.

Broadmoor Hotel, CO

It doesn’t hurt that it is set in a spectacularly beautiful location  that is under-the-radar fun and wholesome. It reminded me a little of being in Switzerland.

The Broadmoor IS big, don’t get me wrong – 744 rooms… but it is a nice bit of luxury out in the West. There is a well-known golf course, and a lake in the middle of the property that gives some calm to the large numbers of visitors.

A beautiful main pool  and tennis courts too.

The Broadmoor is a nice base for a family vacation – I went to a rodeo and hiked Pike’s Peak while I was there……..

But right now I want to highlight a timely attraction: The US Olympic Training Center  nearby.  (Cue that chill-provoking Olympic theme we are all about to hear night and day!) It is an exciting time to visit with the Olympics starting today (Go USA!) and a great place to take the kids. They can be inspired where some of the best in the world have trained. Best of all – it is FREE!

Public tours of the Olympic Training Center Colorado Springs are conducted year-round. The tour includes a 12-minute moving film and 45-minute walking tour of the complex. Nearly 70% of the tour is out-of-doors.

During the tour, visitors  view athlete training facilities including Sport Center Gymnasiums, weightlifting and wrestling facilities, the USA Shooting Center,  and the Aquatics Center. Life-size figures with narrative panels provide information about Olympic Sports.

There is also an Olympic Hall of Fame…featuring athletes like gymnasts Mary Lou Retton and Peter Vidmar…. and an Olympic flame display on the rooftop terrace.

The experience will make you proud to be an American.

Let the games begin! Good luck to our athletes!

7:30 PM tonight- NBC – airing opening ceremonies. Be there. Go for Gold. Always.

  Comfort Food Travel: Out on the Water

I recently turned to my young daughter while in an airport and had a senior moment. “Ava… WHAT CITY ARE WE IN ?”

I’d rather think of it as a rock star moment, caused by waking up in many different destinations, and exhaustion from fun late nights and rock n roll.

It might be because I HAVE been on the road a lot this year…. but have also gone down some new roads in life which have left me preoccupied.

A close friend, diagnosed with a terrible disease, at too young an age.

My daughter, possibly leaving the womb of her tight knit soccer team to join a club team.

So.. after that little cathartic rant, can I ask – aren’t we all longing for that peaceful place?  Where in the world have you been that you just feel it in your bones… a place that goes right to the core of you? Where do you feel a worldly connection?

I call it comfort food travel -For me…. one obvious place is out on the water. It is a unique, and peaceful perspective from which to admire the world…and the rhythm of the gentle waves reverberates for days after. There are many destinations in the world where you can access the ocean, bay, etc and here are a few suggestions:

SUP -Stand Up Paddling or kayaking- If you’ve never tried it, there are schools all over the world to help you. It is always fun to learn something new on a trip – let this be your take away.


You get up close with the marine life, admiring brightly colored coral and schools of fish. (I SUPed over baby sharks here in Burma!) No to mention, bring a friend and it is a bonding outing. in Bali. in Maui.

Lucky Catch Cruises, Portland Maine

A working lobster boat in Maine:

If you make it to Portland Maine, you gotta take a Lucky Catch Cruise. This is one of my travel highlights – Capt Tom takes you out on his lobster boat during lobster season, and involves you in the process of catching lobster – a huge industry for the state of Maine. Kids are more than welcome, and learn so much about the cycle of food – from the bottom of the ocean to your dinner plate. You can buy the lobster you catch for a mere $5!!

To top it off, on a nice day it is a relaxing cruise where you can take in the gorgeous Maine coastline and some iconic lighthouses. I will write more about this one of a kind experience at the beginning of lobster season.

Newport Beach

Rent an electric boat: This is fun because you can be your own captain.

You can rent these little electric boats that fit about 10 people, and cruise through many water ways in the U.S. Florida, Maryland, and here in California to name a few. It’s not expensive, and they don’t go fast for you first timers. It doesn’t have to be summer – You can pull down plastic covers to block the breeze….

…Here in California, this winter night is crisp and clear. It gets more crowded and harder to rent in the summer.

Venice, Italy, 1988

A gondola ride in Italy:

- Really… I know it can be touristy, but ya gotta do it once. The first time I rode on the canals of Venice, I felt like I had been there in former lives. As you look out on the palaces along the Grand Canal, you are enveloped in the blanket of old world charm. A 60 minute ride typically costs about 100 euro, but you can try to negotiate.

A much less costly option is to take a vaporetto ride on the Grand Canal.

Take a ski boat or a fishing boat out – These can be arranged at most hotels in Cabo…

Florida Keys

or Florida. Once again, another fun activity for kids.

As we enter spring…  be mindful of what floats your boat, and go for it. You deserve the fun… and comfort.

  Taking The Kids To Peru: Day 2 & River Rafting

Machu Picchu, Peru, Jan, 2012

This week I am chronicling my recent family trip  to Peru with Adventures by Disney. It will give you insight into taking a guided tour rather than going it alone, and shine a light on a bucket list destination, that is educational for children too.

Day 2 found us waking to a beautiful sunshine morning…. the birds chirping was our alarm clock. Perfect setting for our  thrilling river rafting trip between lush Andean mountains through the Sacred Valley.

You may be asking yourself…. Is she crazy to take her young kids rafting in a third world country? What if something should happen? No, I am not loco.

What you will learn about my particular tour operator, Disney, is that the company is uber conservative, and ultra concerned about safety.

Adventures by Disney Guided Tours Took Us Rafting

Case in point: At the last minute, the guides changed the location of the rafting trip because the rains the day before swelled the river, causing rougher, class 6 rapids. They said the new location had Class 1 and 2, and “Maybe” 3 rapids…. their estimation really ended up being a float, not more than class 1.

They also made sure there was a trained guide on every raft….

and an extra solo guide on a catamaran-like vessel who went ahead of everyone, making sure the path was safe, and also hanging around in case anyone fell out.

Although these mellow waters were not a blood rushing experience that older children may have had bragging rights about, it was perfect for the younger kids… and the adults thoroughly enjoyed the relaxing nature and the incredibly beautiful scenery. We all had fun.

The great thing about this organized tour, is that the Disney guides have bottled water for you anytime you want it, and provide snacks between meals if you need it. So after a snack and a quick change into dry clothes, we were off to the second part of the day – the old Inca town of Ollantaytambo. (If you notice the pattern here, Disney seems to organize the days with 50% something fun for kids, and 50% something cultural and educational that they try to make the most engaging.)

Something struck me about Ollantaytambo… not the largest… not the cleanest or even most developed town… but it felt very authentic, despite being a popular starting point for thousands who hike the Inca Trail.

The guides arranged a buffet lunch of Peruvian fare (as always) at this charming little garden, and then we explored the ancient Incan ruins on the hillside.

What you MUST research about Peru before you go, because it is inescapable once you get there, is a little bit about the Incan Empire… and teach your kids about it too. The Incan Empire was the largest pre-Columbian empire in America. It was headquarted in Cuzco.

Incan Ruins at Ollantaytambo, Peru

The Incas were eventually conquered by the Spanish, but their ruins are well preserved around the Cuzco area. Ollantaytambo is the perfect example – we hiked the hillside to see a 600 year old temple.

Incan Ruins at Ollantaytambo, Peru

This was an intimate intro  to Incan construction style, which we would later in the trip learn more about at Machu Picchu. The Incas were known for their precise joints between boulders – and how tightly each rock fit together. Look how closely the rocks are bound – not even a piece of paper could slip through. More astonishing is that they used no mortar.

After the tour, we wandered the cobble stone streets of this town, then headed back to the hotel for dinner…. and the kids had dinner and movie night with the Disney guides! They loved it, and the parents got a little break!

Tomorrow: Exploring the picturesque salt mines.

  Travel Tip Tuesday: Don’t Get Snowed on a Ski Trip, Here’s How to Save $$

Let’s face it – as heavenly as those mountain vacations are, skiing/snowboarding are expensive sports…the gear, lift tickets, travel expenses. Wouldn’t it be nice to reduce the cost?

Here are some tips to help you have a nice trip, and not break the bank.

1) Consider your parking situation at the mountain. Check with the ski resort – some charge less for parking on week days… and charge less for high occupancy vehicles. Translation: carpool. It can save you $10 a day in some places.

2) If you have children, buy their equipment on Ebay. I have bought every new set of kids’ skis on the auction website, and hand each pair down to the next child. If you only have one child, it may not be worth it to buy skis and boots since kids he or she grow out of them. Also, skis = extra baggage charges on planes,  so see if there are special package deals for rentals if you put your child in a lesson.

3) Consider flying Jet Blue or Southwest to your ski destination if possible – they still allow a second free checked bag. Otherwise, make your boots your carry on so you can put all the skis together in one bag.

4) If you own a credit card linked to an airline, check to see if that gets you any benefits when it comes to checking skis or extra baggage.

5) Instead of renting a car online, call the local rental car agencies directly- especially if you are renting last minute.  I have found they sometimes have cars that the online websites don’t list – for a better price!

Now all we need is more SNOW! Have a great season!

  Hotel of the Week: Where the US Open Stars Stay

My son was thrilled to bump into defending US Open champ Rafa Nadal in the elevator of the St. Regis Hotel in New York. He was staying there at the same time we were on a recent trip. We got a brush with athletic greatness on his way to the 2011 Open…

We also had a brush with hospitality greatness at the St. Regis. I understand why Nadal stays there. Location? Perfect. Can walk to Central Park, shopping on 5th, Time Square, and Magnolia Bakery :) Rooms? Not my style – very traditional and old NY, but lovely and spacious! Bed? I want it! Had the best night sleep when I finally went to sleep.. Service? Spectacular.

The St Regis butler service is legendary – 24/7 a butler can assist you with anything. Toothbrush? No problem. Shoe shine? At your service. French Press coffee to my room every morning, along with the NY Times and Wall St Journal? Done.  The expense is – a nice tip for them at the end of your stay.

Warning: The only down sides to the hotel are that since it is on UH-MAZ-ING 55th and 5th Ave,   it can also be loud – two nights the jackhammering on those busy streets lasted until 12:30AM. I don’t think that’s what Frank meant when he referred to the Apple as “… a city that doesn’t sleep.”

The other down side: we didn’t find any truly good NY bagel places nearby. ( H & H was about 10 blocks away)

But let’s not be too picky! I’m just sayin…If it’s good enough for Nadal it’s good enough for me.

You wont find the style of the hotel many other places- it is rich and detailed, with marble floors even in the elevators. As I said before, elegant but of a certain era. A brand new suite  the Tiffany suite, conjures up memories of my favorite Audrey Hepburn classic…

and brings a newer vibe to the hotel…

…but at a price. Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly may have talked her way into staying in that suite….but we regular girls can only look. It is reportedly $8500 a night. 1700 square feet, and beautiful Tiffany & Co blue….and hmmmm it was occupied the entire week we were there – possibly a stay only a pro tennis player could afford?

Whether it be the US Open.. or the 9/11 10 year anniversary tributes this weekend… NY is ready for it’s spotlight with special luxury hotels like this. Have a great weekend – pray for the victims and families of 9/11.

  Travel Tip Tuesday: Channeling Jack Nicklaus in Vegas

We ALL know there is plenty to do at night in Las Vegas. During the day, it’s either hang by the pool, shop, or try to win back what you lost the night before. (mistake!)

Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy, Las Vegas

But I discovered something well worth doing where there’s no smoke or ringing of slot machines. In fact, it is actually good for you…or at least your golf game. The Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf in Las Vegas is a state of the art golf instruction center, where golfers of all handicaps can work on their long and short games. In the process… you actually have some fun…

Especially if you get golf pro Seth Glasco as your instructor. Once a stand up comedian, he uses his humor to gently tell you what you are doing wrong (let’s just say I was laughing a lot)…and elevates the class beyond dry technical advise.

My day started out on a wacky device called the “Free Motion Tonic.” It is vibration training that increases muscle activation – basically, it is a shortcut to stretching, warming up your muscles. I was skeptical – and although I didn’t feel that much more stretched, my mind was as alert as if I had just downed a double espresso. (Warning: if you were overserved in the casinos the night before, use caution.)

After that Seth asks what you want to work on. Since I said, “everything,” it was a long session. Out on the putting green, he showed me drills to make my putting more rhythmic and even. These are drills you can use at home by the way, because he writes it all down for your personalized lesson.

Next – into the air-conditioned teaching facility, where my swing is analyzed in a 3D imaging system. THAT is cool.

Seth shows you what you are doing wrong by replaying your swing and marking it up with computer graphics.

After he works with you to improve, you are taped again and you compare the before and after swings.

It is illuminating to actually see  – instead of only feeling – what you are doing wrong. (Notice I am hinging more in the second swing!)

Afterward if you want to practice what you learn… or just scream in frustration because you can’t execute all the great drives you were sending back at the academy… Dragonridge Golf Course is right there. Normally a private course, you have access through the golf academy.

Dragonridge Golf Course, Las Vegas

The academy is not cheap  – but there are various different packages for groups, even kids.  It is perfect for a group of moms wanting to learn to golf… or a bunch of guys in Vegas.

The ONLY drawback is that it is about a $45 cab ride from the strip. I think if the Academy offered a shuttle and marketed that, it would be a hole in one. (bad I know…)

For info go to

  Soccer Moms: Where to Take Your Budding Hope Solo

If you missed the World Cup game yesterday of USA vs Brazil, you gotta watch a taped version. Thank you YouTube for some of the highlights. This one is the game changing play Rapinoe to Wambach.

Our girls got game.

If your aspiring soccer players watched – even better. To keep the fire alive in the young dribblers, there are places you can visit in your travels, just for “kicks.” Some far… some near.

1) National Soccer Museum, Sao Paolo, Brazil – Reading about this soccer museum will make you appreciate how devastating it must have been for the Brazilians to lose to us yesterday. As the NY Times put it, Sao Paolo “erected a temple to the gods of soccer” here. And where else to experience a soccer shrine than in the country that has won five World Cups?

Some of the highlights include:

Soccer Museum, Sao Paolo

–Huge glass screens of famous players

–A  jersey of maybe the most well-know soccer star – Pele.

–Hours of movies – showing goals and games.

–Visitors can kick a soccer ball while a radar gun measures its speed, and later retrieve a photo capturing the moment.

Camp Nou Soccer Stadium, Barcelona

2) Soccer Stadiums around the world – and take in a game. Here is a link to one list of the best places to watch the most popular sport in the world.

3) Don’t forget your local college teams – cheap tickets for tough, competitive play. Check out the university near you for a soccer schedule. My daughter and I go to the women’s UCLA games :)

Tune in Wednesday 11:30 AM /EST for USA vs France for more World Cup excitement!