Color Your Summer Vacation with Extra Blue and More Fun.

Children learn what they live so it is never too early to share planet-friendly experiences and in this case sea-friendly experiences with children enabling them to build their own positive connection with our planet.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Discoveries and Family Fun.

Monterey Bay Aquarium special summer activities offer great ways for families to experience the wonders of the ocean together, enjoy a diver’s-eye view of marine life, and watch jellies dance.

Green spots, meaning earth-friendly family vacation ideas, are abundant but what about a blue version. The bluest family vacations include experiences at facilities and working labs that share a love of the ocean and enable families to discover amazing things about life in the sea. These seaside centers and labs have family-friendly programs and activities which add extra “blue” to any vacation. The interactive, engaging programs provide opportunities for family fun and make the perfect launch to next year’s school year.

These beach vacation locations have all the benefits of paradise plus “blue,”  planet-friendly activities at sea life centers and interactive marine labs. These 10 examples demonstrate the best of  blue possibilities.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Underwater Explorers program gives kids have the chance to surface SCUBA in the Great Tide Pool.

Dauphin Island Sea Lab Center discovery cruise in Mobile Bay.

Dauphin Island Sea Lab Center offers exciting discovery cruises in Mobile Bay perfect for adding extra blue to any family vacation.

At Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama share the adventures of a grain of sand.

Virginia Aquarium on Virginia Beach has interactive catamaran sealife excursions.

MOTE Aquarium & Marine Laboratory in Sarasota invites visitors to serve brunch to a shark.

Port Townsend Marine Science Center in Washington is the place to go tide pool trekking.

At Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach caress sharks in Shark Lagoon.

At Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz it is possible to pet a shark.

South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sealife Center in Port Isabel is the place to meet the dolphins of the Laguna Madre.

At Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward visitors are invited to shake hands with an octopus.

Beluga Whales at Mystic Aquarium.

Mystic Aquarium is home to some of the most amazing Beluga whales in captivity.

Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration lets guests paint with a Beluga whale.

As always I welcome feedback. Do you have a favorite blue experience to share? If so just Tell Mom.

Nancy Nelson-Duac

Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files.

California: San Jose, Family Vacation Ideas – NASA, Raging Waters, and STEAM.

San Jose Obon FestivalSan Francisco’s South Bay area is the ideal spot to share fun and learning. From lively festivals and events to inspirational theater and live music, the area is loaded with ways to share fun with kids.

Here’s the scoop. When I think of Mountain View I think of Stanford but the San Jose area offers dozens of opportunities for young families to share fun and learning including watery adventures, shopping, and ways to interact with science and nature. From the tranquility of the Japanese Friendship Gardens or shopping excursions at San Jose’s Santana Row to discovering mammoth bones at the Children’s Discovery Museum or watching movies taken of Mars, there’s something for everyone. For planning purposes I have assembled a list of sure bets – some of them free and the rest worth the coins.

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If kids are happy then everyone will be happy – NO! If mom isn’t happy…

Lawnby Beach, Naples Beach Hotel

I am annoyed at the propensity of family vacation choices which emphasize kids only. We all know family vacation planning is not rocket science – it’s a juggling act with a little sleight of hand to make it happen. The point woman (person) who is charged with making it happen – the family vacation that is – should get some extra benefit. So, I am basically tired of hearing if the kids are happy then everyone will be happy – NO! How about if mom isn’t happy then the vacation will not go well? How about if mom and dad don’t get vacation time fun the whole year could tank? Continue reading

Just tell me where to go.

For years I have heard this comment from parents – directly and indirectly but in my attempt to be politically correct and socially sensitive, I dodge the issue with a question, no  several questions – age of kids, family interests, and how much time and money to you want to spend? When are you going and are you flying or driving (no one ever says they are taking the train even though it may be the perfect idea).

Drawing from two decades of traveling with kids, I always have suggestions but through experience I have learned to stop providing 10 ideas. While it is just the right number for a list, it is too much for a busy parent.

This year almost everyone is looking for a more affordable getaway. Really who doesn’t want to have more fun and spend less? We have begun compiling “Free or Almost Free” lists for select family vacation destinations. Continue reading

Jamaica: Runaway Bay, Franklyn D. Resort & Spa – Moms Stay Free in May.

I like how this sounds. Someone at FDR Resorts gets it. If mom is happy then the whole family will have a better vacation. So, jump-start your summer with your kids on Jamaica’s north coast. Why not?

Here’s the deal. Franklyn D. Resort & Spa and Pebbles Resort have announced mothers will stay for free during the month of May as a thank you for all that they do. This benefit applies to moms arriving at either resort with dad and kids (1st May through 4th June, 2010).
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Virginia: Virginia Beach, Sandbridge – Beach Time, Slow and Easy, No Schedules Needed.

I am sitting on the deck starring at the Atlantic and waiting for the sun. It is the first morning of our family vacation at the beach and I plan to find quiet time for myself each day – so far so good. I made coffee by flashlight, secured granola bar from the sack box and borrowed an over-sized beach towel haphazardly left on a chair.

Opening the sliding door was a bit tricky but it’s been 10 minutes and there is no sound from the house. My first sunrise will be uninterrupted. As I sip my coffee the gray-black horizon is being doused with hues of purple, orange and increasing amounts of yellow. I see pelicans scanning the waves and seagulls working the beach. It is low tide and the rhythm of the waves is slow and easy. Slow and easy – describes our plans for the week. I plan to share sand castles, sea breezes, and sunsets with my kids. We’re going bike, hike and try surfing – some of us that is. I am keeping sunrises for myself. Continue reading