Free or Almost Free Winter Family Fun

Kids ski free or fly free, really? Yes, really.

Stay at the Resort at Glade Springs in Southern West Virginia and ski free at Winterplace

As our economy creeps away from   sluggish mode many destinations and resorts are offering extra travel benefits including deals for families. I have my snowy favorites which offer real family vacation benefits – some are time sensitive, some not so much. Plan early, be flexible, and savings can be matched with fun.

Snow, snow, snow. In the last decade, Whistler Blackcomb has received an average of 11.9 metres (39.1 feet) of snow per year. The complex is not just snowy chic but also family friendly offering kids’ programs, kids’ centers, and kids’ adventure zones plus family events and activities. While there are often specials and discounts for midweek stays booking early saves more. Here’s the deal:  Generally kids 12 and younger stay, ski and rent for free with five-night vacation packages. Wait for it! Look for additional savings with early bookings ( by 11.15.2012) meaning up to 33% on equipment rental, discounted lift tickets, savings on Snow School, 10% savings on activities and a $20 gas card with a car rental. Receive a free child lift ticket for every 3-day adult lift ticket purchased; take advantage of free rental equipment all season with every adult rental package purchased. (

Ski free in West Virginia. Once again this season the Resort at Glade Springs in Southern West Virginia is offering guests free lift tickets for Winterplace. Now it is true this spot is for families who enjoy back to basics family fun. I like the area for just those reasons. It is uncomplicated destination which is affordable and easy paced with oodles of options for families who want an active family vacation. In addition to hiking and cavern adventures add skiing, boarding, and tubing to the list. Wait for it! Winterplace is the home to the largest snow tubing park in West Virginia and that fact alone should make you want to pack the kids in the van and escape. Here’s the deal: Resort at Glade Springs offers guests free lift tickets for each night’s stay with complimentary daily shuttle to and from Winterplace plus oodles of resort benefits.  (Toll-free 1-888-477-3424 or

Checkout more family ski deals and winter family vacation ideas in Snowplaces at the Files.


Best Corn Mazes & Harvest Festivals – Pure Family Fun

I have just posted sixty ways to have fun with your kids in corn around, corn, and with corn. Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere.
Mini breaks make a world of difference and I know that pint-sized fun is better than no fun at all whether it’s a daytrip or a weekend escape, enjoying time together and making family memories matters. For adults it is a good excuse to behave like a kid again if only for a few hours. I love our family custom of selecting the perfect pumpkin (pumpkins because we always adopt extras).

Here’s the scoop. The 2010 regional lists of reveal a plethora of chances to have fun with kids. It spans seven distinct geographic regions in the USA plus three regions within Canada. The collection of festivals and events spans the gamut from barnyard mini golf in Vermont and pumpkin bowling in Kansas to pig races, hayrides, living history, and most American of all corn mazes.

Mini breaks in Canada include plenty of pumpkin patches, scarecrows, hay rides, corn piles, and apple picking plus corn quests in Nova Scotia and a cranberry bog encounter in British Columbia. For night owls there’s also maze adventures by moonlight or flashlight.

Our expanded list of family friendly Fall Festivals & Corn Mazes may be viewed at by clicking on the special green and yellow folder labeled “aMAZEing Fun” or by selecting a region of the country and viewing the relevant feature. To expand the list for the future readers are encouraged to “Tell Mom” about their favorite family corn maze or fall festival.

aMAZEing fun for everyone

Please tell mom! If you have favorite fall festival or corn maze please let us know. In other words “Tell Mom!” Make sure to include the name of the festival or event and its location on the planet as well as why you like it or what makes it worth the trip. Our next round up will include family-friendly winter celebrations, enchanting holiday lights, and Santa Trains. We are building the list right now and would love to have your feedback. So just “Tell Mom!”

Canada: Family Summer Vacation Adventures – Just Drive North.

Because I lived in Wisconsin as a child I thought a family vacations were taken in Canada – Manitoba or Ontario to be precise. Our family has carried on the “vacation in Canada tradition” having expanded our destinations to include PEI, New Brunswick, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC.

The obvious benefits, aside from the pure “fun” value, Canada offers parents a safe friendly way to introduce another culture. The exchange rate is favorable; there is no jet lag involved – well unless you need to cross the Atlantic.

Here’s the deal. It’s Canada (not the excited states) and while there are many similarities, there are plenty of differences worth sharing. For kids the differences will be obvious. The coins look different; the ice cream is better; bi- lingual means English/French; Canadians have a different view of the Revolutionary War. When pressed to name a favorite province we cannot agree. Our youngest stands by Saskatchewan; my husband names New Brunswick; our oldest daughter splits her vote between Quebec and PEI; I love British Columbia and Ontario – think wine. For us every vacation seemed better than the last. But as we look at years of great family vacations, really anywhere in Canada will be terrific.  My short “not-to-be-missed” list of family adventures includes truly awesome experiences meant to be shared with kids.

  1. Attend the Charlottetown Festival and enjoy the fun of being on the island that made Anne of Green Gables a legend. Make sure to have potato fries.
  2. Walk on the ocean floor – no kidding. The Bay of Fundy cannot be explained unless you go there and touch and feel. Spend a day (or a week) at Kings Landing where living history is not exactly like Williamsburg, VA.
  3. Even though it is a bit touristy Niagara Falls is a splendid spot for families. Ride the Maid of the Mist and checkout the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory.
  4. Walk the streets of Quebec City and practice your guidebook French.
  5. Enjoy Montreal’s museums and then ride VIARail from Montreal to the Maritimes.
  6. Walk the tunnels of Moose Jaw, and hear stories at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, or dig for old bones at Eastend in Saskatchewan.
  7. Eat cowboy pancakes and do the two-step at Calgary Stampede.
  8. Dig for old bones at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller.
  9. Kayak God’s Pocket and go ziplining in Whistler.
  10. Spend a day in Vancouver’s Stanley Park – all the cool stuff in one place.

Canada: New Brunswick, Kings Landing, Daydreaming in History.

(Written by my youngest daughter, Jule Nelson-Duac)

Wagon rides > walking three miles in moccasins!

There I was, sitting in history class thinking, ” There’s a more fun way of learning this!” Why can’t school be more like my life at Kings Landing? The teacher’s voice droned on as I looked out the window. I recalled my summer days and the last time we were in New Brunswick, Canada. I was lucky enough to attend a living history camp at Kings Landing. They call it “Visiting Cousins” and that is what we all pretended to be for a week. I went with my two cousins, Scott and Jaime, and my big sister, Amanda. As it turned out it was really fun, even better than space camp. Continue reading