Share an Out of Gravity Experience with Your Kids.

This summer the Science Museum of Minnesota is showcasing an awesome and most enlightening exhibition about space travel, space living and space in relationship to our future.  It’s a WOW! in Earth terms.

Gigantic Spaceman Science Museum of Minnesota

A gigantic spaceman beckons earthlings to Space: An Out of Gravity Experience at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul.

The Minnesota Science Museum has always been on my list of must see museums but until last week I had never stepped inside. Six hours later with two snack breaks, much needed to quell mind overload, I know one visit is not enough. The place is amazing at every turn.

Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience is one reason to make plans to be in St. Paul with your kids. It is an eye opener. A gargantuan spaceman guards the entrance hall of the Museum beckoning earthlings to get in line to see really cool stuff about the future of travel in space. The presence of the three-story giant is exciting no matter what your age and from the third floor landing it’s possible to see your own surreal reflection in the spaceman’s mask.

Science at Museum of Minnesota space station playhouse.

Science Museum of Minnesota space station playhouse for miniature astronauts attracts kids of all ages to engage in imaginative travel with a mission.

Space poses the question, what does the future hold for earthlings and space travel? It does not cover historic moments or status quo thinking but instead focuses on possibilities. I was enthralled at every turn. The experience begins with a well-scripted cinematic introduction which describes in easy to understand terms the huge challenges facing future explorers and shows how preparations are being made to solve the situations.

Every means of engaging visitors is used to convey concepts which are still on the edges of comprehension for most of us. Interactive stations simulate robotic tasks and consoles allow users to engage in mission planning simulating tasks essential to survival in outer space. Stacking blocks is not as easy as it seems when the task must be completed using a robotic arm. It’s possible to board a life-sized rotating space pod simulating the International Space Station, slightly dizzying but intriguing.

If you are anywhere near St. Paul Minnesota, this is the summer to have an  out of gravity experience with your kids and while you are there sample the gelato for an out of this world taste treat.

Nancy Nelson-Duac

Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files.

Family Vacation Camps Offer Uniquely American Summer Vacations.

Just like the kids version, family vacation camps provide ways to socialize with other families and share unique bonding experiences with new friends. For many it is an economical way to getaway, have fun together, and mom does not have to cook or clean up.

Kingsley Pine Family Camp in Maine

Why should kids have all the fun? A Kingsley Pines family camp vacation is like taking a land cruise in Maine with all the fun included.

No two family camps are the same but all guarantee summer family fun so expect plenty of outdoor shared activities during the daytime, with sing-a-longs, s’mores and campfires at night.

The best family vacation camps, sometimes dubbed “multigenerational camps”, offer simple lodgings with meals included and dozens of terrific activities meant to be shared with other families at camp. In fact in many cases traditional kids’ summer camp locations designate “family camp” weeks.  Family camp locations vary including lodges, hotel rooms, cottages, cabins, and sometimes tent cabins with no electricity. Some provide private baths while others offer shared bathhouses.

Just as varied as the sleeping spots, the activities define the experience. From banana boat rides and sailing classes to performing arts and studio families can easily have fun together. Family camp experiences make it easy to achieve a sense of community sharing family fun with multiple generations.

For the full list of family vacation camps go to the Camp Out folder featured at the Family Travel Files.

Why should kids have all the fun? Really.

Nancy Nelson-Duac                  Curator of the Good Stuff for the Files

Bird Encounter Milan

Windows to the World.

Throughout the year I encourage parents and grandparents to share unique experiences and mini adventures with their young companions and more times than not my suggestions and recommendations have to do with nurturing citizens of the world.

Bird Encounter Milan

Milan offers unexpected surprises and contrasts to engage all ages in celebrating life on the planet.

The sharing part is key because children learn what they live and ultimately live what they learn. I could wax on about the raising citizens of the world, one of my favorite topics, but not in a family travel blog. My point, as it relates to family travel is that when children share positive cultural experiences with adults whom they love and respect the result can only be good for everyone. And with each positive experience the nurturing of a young citizen of the world evolves.

Hence I continue to post terrific ways for families to discover the world with or without passports. I believe the best cultural experiences combine music, dance, and cuisine and offer ways to participate in activities.
At the top of my list Chinese New Year celebrations which span the country from Zoominations – Chinese Lantern Festival of Lights in Tampa to Chicago’s urban celebrations and a string of events at Westfield shopping centers in California. However possibilities punctuate the calendar year.

Each Spring Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee hosts Festival of Nations and all year long the Irish Music School of Chicago hosts family-friendly events. Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, Minnesota conducts cross-cultural programs for multiple generations. Attending the Ceilidh presented by College of Piping in Summerside, PEI cannot be beat and the immersive programs at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village in Alberta are always lively and inspiring.

The celebrations, activities and locations which provide families with windows to the world enrich lives and nurture citizens of the world while creating memories to be cherished. For family fun my list is endless and includes kite flying ceremonies, tapas tasting, big birds in Milan, and mariachi music as well as tea ceremonies, dumpling making, and lefsa. I do not have a favorite window.
Ciao for now. Nancy Nelson-Duac Curator of the Good Stuff for 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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Corn mazes, apple cider, and smiles a mile wide.

This blog entry’s intro comes to us courtesy of my eldest daughter:

When I look back on my childhood, some of my most vivid memories are of attending fall festivals and events with my family. I can still remember the edge of frost in the air, the tang of the hot apple cider, and running breathlessly through a seemingly endless corn maze. There’s something magical about Fall – when the leaves change, seemingly overnight, to a symphony of fire tones, before drifting down to coat the ground like a magic carpet.

Few things capture the magic of the season like fall festivals. You can find them across the country – in numerous small towns, and family owned farms. They’re a slice of American life, truly as American as apple pie (yes, even in Canada!). No where else can you find that certain delightful combination of corn mazes, apple treats, pumpkins and Halloween festivities that you do in North America.

So this year, take your kids along and make your own wonderful fall memories.

Make it Happen: 

Because hectic schedules sustain the daily rhythm of most households mini breaks make a world of difference and we know that pint-sized fun is better than no fun at all.

Whether it’s a  day trip or a weekend escape, enjoying time together and making family memories matters. Fun, quick, and easy is the magic phrase for families. A special thanks to those who took time to “Tell Mom” labout the best corn maze or fall festival  because we have included those suggestions on the list for this year.

Check out our best-rated fall festivals and corn mazes from all over the USA here.

We are thrilled with the feedback from Canadians who love their corn mazes and pumpkin patches and took time to “Tell Mom” where to find the best. Find out what they recommended by check out the roundup here!

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!”