Best Family Christmas Vacations

Best Family Christmas Vacations

Our family has a whole set of Christmas traditions, one of them is opening presents at our home on Christmas morning.  Even tho my kids are grown with families of their own those that live in town and those that came home for the holidays still open presents at my house.  Those unable to come home for Christmas open presents with those that are  here thanks to the magic of technology.

Every now and then we decide to do something different, we travel.  We usually leave Christmas evening.  This allows us to open presents together Christmas morning and also take advantage of the cheaper airfare that’s available for traveling on the holiday.  Air fares are very expensive just before and just after the holiday, but drastically drop on the holiday itself as no one wants to travel that day.  It’s always a pleasure to travel on Christmas and New Year’s day, flights are pretty empty and flight attendants more pleasant.

There are many great places to spend the holidays with kids.  Many places have fantastic Christmas displays and host many seasonal events.  Here are a few places you might want to visit during Winter Break, some may even be close enough to drive to thus eliminating costly airfare and the crowds at the airports.

1.

Hershey Park, Hershey, Pennsylvania – Billed as “The Sweetest Place on Earth”, Hershey Park is a popular theme park year round it’s even more fun during the holidays.  Lots of holiday events going on including dining with Santa, Sweet Lights a drive-thru spectacular, Christmas Candy Lane, ice skating, Gingerbread Tea, Dinner Theater Shows, and more.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

2.  Visit Santa’s Workshop, where else but in North Pole, NY.  Just minutes fro Lake Placid, New York families have visited the Workshop since 1949.  Experience the magic of an old-fashioned Christmas in this fairytale setting.  Meet Santa and his reindeer, tour the village and shops, ride Christmas themed rides, and more.

 

 

3.  Santa Claus, Indiana – “America’s Christmas Hometown” has lots of events this season including meals with Santa, Chestnut Roasting, Children’s Craft Time, and more.  Click here to see their event schedule this year.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

4.  Experience a Traditional Christmas on the Cape at Chatham Bars Inn in Cape Cod.  2014 marks the Inn’s 100th. Anniversary.  They are hosting many seasonal events including Elsa & Friends Enchanted Wonderland for Frozen fans, Gingerbread House Workshops, and their annual Sno BBQ on December 26.  Click here for their event schedule.  [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

Woodloch Resort Holiday Weekend

5.  Enjoy an Old-Fashioned Christmas at one of Pennsylvania’s all-inclusive resorts in the Pocono Mountains.  Olde-Fashioned Holiday at Woodloch Resort and Old-Fashioned Christmas at Mohonk Mountain House  offer many seasonal activities including caroling, holiday scavenger hunts, visits with Santa and more.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

6.  Christmas in Cambria, California.  During the holidays the stretch of California’s highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles turns into a lighted village filled with story-book charm.  Stroll the town and visit many galleries and shops to shop for unique one of a kind items.  Enjoy your Holidays in The Pines.  Click here for events in the area.

 

7.  ICE! the award-winning icy attraction and Christmas celebrations at 4 Gaylord Resorts:  National Harbor, Maryland; Kissimmee, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Grapevine, Texas.
During this season  resorts guest will enjoy lights, Christmas trees, snow tubing, character meals, and more.

 

8.  Set sail for the holidays on Disney Cruiseline’s Very MerryTime Cruises.  Disney cruises are always fun, even more so with these holiday enhancements onboard:
Other holiday enhancements include:

  • Deck the Deck Tropical Holiday Party, a celebration in addition to Pirate Night, with candy-cane limbo, dancing and games
  • Tree Lighting Ceremony, where kids can help light the tree and kick off the holiday festivities
  • Santa Claus meet-and-greet, an exciting opportunity to take family pictures and see Santa and his elves
  • Meet-and-Greets with some favorite Disney Characters, dressed in their holiday attire
  • Teen-only and tween-only holiday parties—private celebrations where teens and tweens can hang out with new friends
  • Holiday storytelling, with new and old tales about holidays at sea and around the world
  • Themed activities and crafts for kids—decorate stockings, make holiday cards, go on a holiday scavenger hunt and more
  • A life-sized gingerbread house made completely with edible ingredients—and the opportunity to make your own gingerbread house*

Plus, on December 24 and 25, enjoy additional holiday experiences:

  • Cookies on Christmas Eve
  • Special holiday towel animals
  • Special holiday surprise
  • Holiday caroling with the kids and crew
  • Religious Services

9.  Hop aboard the Polar Express for a fun filled evening ride to visit Santa and friends.  For more info and to find a Polar Express near you click here!

10.  Head over to the Big Apple!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year to visit New York City.  Ring in the Holidays at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!  Enjoy the Tree at Rockefeller Center, events, and activities New York City has to offer this holiday season.  For NYC events and activities click here!

Holiday Travel with Kids

Holiday Travel with Kids

The holidays are fast approaching, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s also the most stressful and expensive time of the year, specially when it comes to air travel.  Those of us who choose to travel for the holidays can look forward to high fares, crowded airports, packed planes, and weather delays.  There’s not much we can do about these things, but here’s a few tips that may help you plan your holiday get away and take a bit of strain off your budget and nerves.

1.  When deciding where to go for the holidays consider a destination you can drive to.   Air fare for a family of 4 will be more expensive than the gas you will use to and from your destination, plus you don’t have to worry about airport security, luggage fees, and crowded planes.

Consider this:  Driving from Tucson to Los Angeles takes about 6 hours;  round trip air fare for the hour long flight for Thanksgiving weekend  is pricing at $400 per person meaning $1600 for a family of 4 plus the cost of airport transfers or long term parking.

If you decide to fly you will have to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave.  Depending on how far you live from the airport this means you will be heading for the airport at least 3 hours before your flight.  So you will already be “traveling” for at least 3 hours before your one hour flight ever leaves the gate. If you were driving you’d be halfway to Los Angeles before the flight even departs Tucson!  And you would have saves more than $1000 which you could use towards hotel, dining, and entertainment or whatever else you want.

2.  If you do need to fly book your flights as early as possible.  Hotels too if you need them.  Prices are based on availability, they go up as flights and hotels fill up,  so getting in before they do is a good idea.  If you’re worried about price drops check out this site called Yapta.com it will track the price you paid for airfare and will alert you if it drops and you are entitled to a refund.

If you can be flexible about your dates or choose dates wisely.  It’s cheaper to fly on the holiday than the day before.  There are also a short window of cheaper airfare and hotel rates, it’s  called the “dead week”  the week just after Thanksgiving and New Year.

Try to book an early morning flight or a red-eye.  Airports are less busy in the early hours, traffic builds up as the day goes on.  It’s easier to navigate a less crowded airport and there will be shorter lines at check-in and security.

Book non-stop flights if possible.  This avoids long layovers and decreases the chance that you may be delayed due to weather.

3.  When you buy your tickets online make sure you choose your seats if possible.  Some airlines like Southwest have no seat assignments but do charge a premium fee that allows you to board before the other passengers.  It may be worth paying the fee during holiday travel to ensure you and your kids will be seated together.  On other airlines if you can not find seats that are together just take the seats that are closest together, if possible get aisle or window seats, they’re easier to trade.   When you arrive at the gate inform the gate agent you and your kids aren’t seated together, they may be able to find you seats that are.  If all else fails you may be able to trade your seats with other passengers once everyone has boarded, this is when having aisle and window seats come in handy.  It’s easier to find folks trade to an aisle or window seat, no one ever wants to trade for a middle.

Last summer’s flight to Rome we had 4 seats in a row and 2 directly in front

4.  Pack lightly, avoid baggage fees by fitting your things in a carry-on bag.  Also saves time and aggravation when you don’t have to drop off checked luggage and jostle with the crowds at baggage claim.  Do check the baggage policies of airlines before you purchase tickets, some are now charging for carry-on bags as well.
Check this TSA website to know what you can and can not carry on and how to get thru security line faster.

5.  If you will be bringing presents consider shipping them to your destination instead of checking bags in.  Better yet take advantage of free shipping many online retailers offer during the holidays and have the gifts sent directly to your friends and family.

6.  Check-in online 24 hours before your flight.  This gives you a boarding pass which you can print or store on your mobile device, you can avoid check-in lines at the airport and head straight for security checkpoints.  If you are checking in luggage you will have to drop them off at the baggage drop-off and get a luggage tag.

7.  Arrive at the airport early.  Allow yourself plenty of time to get thru all the lines and get to your gate.  Getting seats close together at the gate is easier when it’s less crowded.  You can stake a claim to your seats and settle in to wait for your flight to board.

8.  Bring your own food.  Yes there are many stores and restaurants by the gates but they too can have long lines and you may not have time to buy food.  Pack non-perishable snacks and bring an EMPTY water bottle that can be filled once you get thru security.  Also packing your own food saves money, airport food is costly.  Airlines do sell meals and snacks in flight, but the choices are slim and the prices steep.

9.  If you are traveling with an infant or toddler board last if you can.  Other members of your party can board ahead to arrange carry-on bags into overhead bins, you and baby can hang out at the gate and board the plane at the end.  It’s easier to keep young kids entertained at the gate than trying to keep them confined in an airplane seat for 45 minutes or more.

10.  Keep kids entertained during the flight with books, toys, and mobile devices that you’ve packed in your carry-on.  Also bring headphones so they can watch in-flight entertainment if it’s available.

 

11.  Put your smart phone to work, there are many apps that will keep track of your itinerary, help you navigate airports, locate restaurants, and more.  Download them before you leave home.

12.  If you run into delays and cancellations know your travel rights.  Barring bad weather or any natural disasters travelers do have rights.  Bookmark these sites on your smart phone just in case.
Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration.

13.  Consider purchasing a pass to an airport lounge if you have a long lay-over.  They are much more comfortable than sitting at the gate.  They usually have sofas, tvs, work stations, wi-fi, and many serve snacks and drinks.

Alaska Airline’s Boardroom at the Sea-Tac Airport

14.  Consider buying travel insurance.  I know it’s an extra expense but during the holiday travel season it may come in handy.  Travel insurance may reimburse you for airline fees, hotel stays, lost luggage, and other things should you run into problems during your trip.


Save up to 70% on Airport Parking!

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade View Tips

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade View Tips

 

Anthony Quintano/Flickr Creative Commons

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade heralds in the Christmas Holiday season.  It’s one of the most famous holiday events in the world. Over three million people line the parade route to get a glimpse of celebrities, marching bands, floats,  and the huge floating balloons—Snoopy, Spiderman, Big Bird, Hello Kitty,  and friends.  50 million people are expected to watch it on TV as part of their annual Thanksgiving tradition.

This parade has been a part of my life forever.  I watched is as a child perched high atop my father’s
shoulders.  When we relocated to Hawaii we woke up early Thanksgiving morning to watch it on TV, when I had my own kids we did the same, and now the grand kids watch it every year.  When my youngest child was in her high school’s marching band they marched in this parade.  At that time Pearl City High School had a standing invitation to march in the parade every couple of years, they still may.  This parade is definitely part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.  It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we miss the parade, live or on TV.

For those of you who will be lucky enough to watch it live this year here are a few tips to help you out.

1.  The fun doesn’t have to begin on Thanksgiving morning.  A pre-Thanksgiving tradition on the Upper west side in watching the balloons get inflated.  For many kids watching the balloons “come to life” is more fun than watching the parade itself.

This Thanksgiving eve event is on November 26, 2014 beginning at 3:00 p.m.  It takes place
along the perimeter of the Museum of Natural History, on 77th and 81st streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

2.   The 88th. Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on November 27, 2014.  It begins at 9:00 a.m.

The parade route starts by  heading south down Central Park West from 77th Street, east along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue and then south along Sixth Avenue to West 34th Street.  It ends in front of Macy’s in Herald Square.

3.  Arrive early and bring folding chairs, they will make the wait more comfy.   Crowds start gathering along the route as early as 6am. You’ll want to stake out your spot before 7am if you want the kids to be close enough to be able to see.

4.  Check the weather and dress accordingly.  From the time you stake out your spot until the last float passes by you could be standing out in cold weather for more than 5 hours.  Make sure the kids are dressed warmly and have hats and mittens.  Layering would be a good idea, you can peel them off if it gets warmer as the day wears on.  Bring umbrellas if there is a chance of rain or snow.

5.  Bring essentials such as snacks, camera, extra sweater, a lap blanket may come in handy.  I’d take it easy on drinks, hot or cold, bathrooms may be difficult to get to.

6.  Choose your spot wisely, a spot as far north as possible would be good.  Once the parade starts it takes 90 minutes for the last float to pass by.  If you’re near the beginning of the route you could be done before 11:00 a.m.  If you choose a spot near the end near Macy’s Herald Square you will be waiting much longer and be fighting larger crowds.

There are public viewing spots along Central Park West, on the both sides of the street from 70th Street to Columbus Circle to 65th Street and continuing on the west side of the street down to Columbus Circle. You can try further south along Sixth Avenue between 58th Street and 34th Street

It would be a good idea to stake your spot near a coffee shop or department store, this is a definite must with young kids, you can nip into the shop for a bathroom break when needed.

7.  Know your kids limits.  There’s no harm in bailing out early if it gets too cold or the kids get cranky.  Watching part of the parade is better than nothing, and better than bringing home sick or upset kids.

8.  Treat yourselves to a Thanksgiving Feast, after standing out in the cold for hours you’ve definitely earned it.  For NYC restaurants offering special Thanksgiving meals click here!

9.  Enjoy the other sights and events this city has to offer.  The Christmas Season is one of the most wonderful time of the year to visit the Big Apple.  For a list of NYC Christmas events click here!

 

Thanksgiving Travel – Where Will You Go?

Thanksgiving Travel – Where Will You Go?


Is it me or does it seem that once we hit Halloween the rest of the year seems to become a blur of rapidly changing seasons and holidays?  It seems that once the spooky fun and games of Halloween is over, it’s time to think about the next Fall holiday, Thanksgiving.  Then it just rolls into Black Friday, Christmas, and continues on until the New Year.  It’s one of the busiest times of year for me, I love it!

Every year on November 1 I toy with the idea of chucking tradition out the window and engage in some Thanksgiving Travel.  No cooking, no baking, and no family dinner.

I actually go on line and research family friendly Thanksgiving travel destinations where I can enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal that I didn’t have to prepare. We actually packed the kids up a few years ago and took ourselves off to the Big Island of Hawaii to spend a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend at the Hilton Waikaloa Resort.  It was great, we went horseback riding, snorkeling, and relaxed at the pool.  Thanksgiving dinner was at the bountiful buffet in one of the hotel restaurants.

It was a memorable holiday, but it just wasn’t the same!  I actually missed my yearly ritual of planning, cooking, baking, and serving this wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  My family complained as well, they wanted their home cooked turkey that they look forward to every year. We’ve never left home for Thanksgiving again.

I guess we all hold this holiday tradition close to our hearts.  But never the less, it’s November again and I find myself looking for that get away.  I probably won’t go, but it’s fun to look just the same. Here are some Thanksgiving Travel ideas I found this year.  You might just want to start a new Thanksgiving tradition!

Once great tip on Thanksgiving travel, or any holiday travel for that matter, is to head to our great cities!  Most folks overlook this idea thinking that big cities means big bucks for hotel rooms.  But the holidays is a great time to visit one of our cities to take advantage of bargain priced hotel rooms.  Most city folks leave the city during the holidays.  You’ll be surprised to find that many high end hotels in the city center drop prices on holiday weekends just to fill hotel rooms.

So head to the Big Apple for the annual Macy’s Parade.  Entertaining kids and adults since 1924 it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without watching this parade.

After the parade you can shop til you drop, or just wander the city to admire department store windows, they put on a great show for the holiday season.  Of course there are museums and parks to explore, lots of Broadway shows to choose from, and great restaurants for your dining pleasure.

Find great Thanksgiving travel deals here!

Our nation’s Capital Washington, D.C. is truly the place to soak up American history on this real American holiday.

Wander the Mall, explore the museums, and just enjoy the season in this great city.

Find hotel bargain on DC hotels here!

Big cities not your thing?  No worries, here are some other Thanksgiving Travel ideas.

Spend the day with Pilgrims at the Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass.

Located just 45 minutes south of Boston you will learn how the pilgrims lived in the 17th. Century, see the Mayflower II a replica of the original Mayflower.  You can also have Thanksgiving dinner there!  Check their website for seasonal events.

Enjoy the beautiful foliage of New England then stop by Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont for a wagon ride or to learn how Thanksgiving is observed in this 1890 Farmhouse.

There’s lots of seasonal events happening in Vermont.  Click here for more events.

Board the Polar Express in Woonsocket, Rhode Island for a magical 90 minute train excursion inspired by the Christmas classic by Chris Van Allsburg.

It’s a great way to kick off your holiday season.

Disney World kicks off their Christmas parties in November.

The kids will love the holiday themed parades in all the parks.  Thanksgiving dinner is served at many of the resort’s restaurants.



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FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii

FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii

 

FREE Things to Do with Kids in HawaiiThe mere mention of “Hawaii” brings to mind pristine beaches, crystal clear water, and big waves. Hawaii boasts some of the best beaches in the world and a major part of a Hawaiian vacation is some serious beach time.

One of the best things about Hawaii is that all the beaches are public with the exception of a few that are strictly for the federal government, meaning the military.  Developers are required to provide public parking and access to the shoreline in areas that are residential.  Hotels and resorts around the island must also allow the pubic to use the beaches directly in front of their property, however access thru hotel property and use of  hotel facilities can be restricted to hotel guests.
But beaches are not all Hawaii has to offer, there are many family friendly activities on the islands.
In my previous post 14 Things to Do in Hawaii with Kids I listed some fun activities that have a fee, in this post I will list some FREE things to do with kids.  You can decide to include a few activities from each category to make your Hawaiian family vacation memorable.
Most families who visit the islands generally rent a car, it makes getting around to the places I list so much easier.  It is possible to get around on public transportation.  Hawaii, at least Oahu has a pretty good bus system.  Bus fares are $2.50 one way per adult, kids 6-17 $1.25, under 6 is free.  Visitors can also purchase a 4 day pass for unlimited use for 4 consecutive days.  Price of the pass is $35.  For more info click here.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii
Savvy Nana
You can’t go to Hawaii without spending time at the beach.  The islands are full of fantastic beaches.
Our favorite family beach in Honolulu is the Ala Moana Beach Park where the water is calm and the sand is fine.
Other favorites are the Ko’olina Beach lagoons on the Leeward coast of Oahu, and Kailua Beach Park on the Windward coast.
A drive around the island will take you to many more beaches, I’m sure you’ll find your favorite ones.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii
Savvy Nana
Turtle watch at Laniakea Beach a.k.a. Turtle Beach.  Located on Oahu’s North Shore just past the town of Haleiwa this beach is consistently visited by the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.  You’re almost sure to see at least one or two on the shore.
This beach is not the easiest beach to find.  The best way to find it is to drive on Kamehameha Hwy. thru the historic town of Haleiwa.  Pass the town, the ocean is on your left.
About 1.5 miles past Haleiwa town you will probably see cars parked on both sides of the road, in the dirt.  This is the area where the beach is.  If you park on the mountain side of the road you will have to cross the very busy street, or you can try to make a U-turn further up the road and double back so you can park on the ocean side. From the road you will have to walk down to the beach, be careful as it’s rather steep in some areas. You will be rewarded with the site of these gentle sea creatures basking on the beach, but don’t get too close they are endangered and are protected by conservation laws.
There are no facilities at this beach so you must bring food and drink with you.  The nearest restrooms would be back in Haleiwa town or further along the coast at one of the other beach parks on the North Shore.
This beach is not really a family day out kind of beach, it’s best as a short stop-over on your way to one of the other beaches on the North Shore like Waimea Bay or Sharks Cove.
Or if you like the kids can go sand boarding down the slope that is further along the beach and less crowded.  All you’ll need is a cheap kick board you can buy at any ABC Store in Waikiki or a flat cardboard box.  This keeps our boys entertained for a little while.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii
Savvy Nana
FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii
Savvy Nana
Explore the tide pools at Pupukea Beach Park – this beach is actually 2 “pocket” beaches along the coast – Sharks Cove and Three Tables. Both spots are a favorite for divers and snorkelers.
Located further along Oahu’s North Shore just past Waimea Bay, across the street from the Foodland Supermarket.  This beach is calm and safe during the summer but has very high surf in the winter.
Low tide reveals tide pools and lava formations that are fun to explore.  Keep safety in mind, the best way to explore is to start as far out as you wish to venture and work your way towards shore.  You don’t want to be caught far from shore when the tide comes in, there are no lifeguards.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii
Savvy Nana
Go fishing!  You’ll find fishermen fishing off the coast at many beaches, you may even see some spearfishing.
We usually go fishing in Haleiwa Harbor or at Kakaako Waterfront Park by downtown Honolulu.
All you need is fishing pole and some bait.  Hawaii does not require a fishing license for recreational saltwater fishing.
You can cast your line from any beach on the island except Hanauma Bay which is a marine wildlife preserve.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii
Courtesy of Oahu Family Activities
Spend a relaxing day at Moanalua Gardens located about 5 miles Northwest from Honolulu.
This small park is home to a variety of native plants and flowers which line the short paved trail that is suitable for strollers.  It’s a wide open space that’s great for picnics, tossing a frisbee, and relaxing on benches and tables under the shade of the many banyan trees.
There’s a Koi pond where you can feed the fish with Koi food that can be purchased from the small gift shop at the entrance, you can feed the ducks bread if you have some.  King Kamehameha V’s summer cottage and tea house are located within this park, as is the famous “Hitachi” monkey pod tree which has been used by the Japanese company as their corporate symbol since 1973.  The company pays the park foundation an annual fee for the tree’s upkeep.
There’s also a small stream running along one end of the park.  My kids used to bring small nets to catch tadpoles in the stream.  I’m not sure if they still allow you to do this, you may want to check with the caretakers first.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii
Courtesy of NPS.gov

History buffs and older children would enjoy a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial which is in Pearl Harbor.

There are displays and information about the war in the Pacific.  Then there’s the boat shuttle to take visitors to the memorial which is built directly over the sunken ship.
It’s a very moving tribute to all the troops who served in the Pacific during World War II.  Older children will definitely learn a lot of history, but younger ones may find it a bit boring.
Children under 5 are not allowed on the launch that goes to the memorial.  Admission is free as it is part of the National Park Service.  You may want to rent an audio guide for $5 to get the most of your visit.  The Junior Ranger booklet is available to young visitors free of charge, just ask for one at the ranger desk.
This is the 3rd. most visited attraction on Oahu, it is busy year round.  Click here for more info.
Courtesy of Honolulu Family
Go fishing at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe on the windward side of Oahu.
Every weekend the garden sponsors a catch and release program.  The visitor center provides free bamboo poles you can pick up and plunk in the water, casting is not allowed.  You must bring your own bait, I’m told white bread is the best bait.
Hoomaluhia means ” a place of peace and serenity”, and that it is.  It’s a great place for a picnic and short nature walks in the lush garden.  Bring bug spray, wear good shoes, and bring snacks.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii
Courtesy of Pinterest.com
Hike on the Aiea Loop Trail that begins and ends in Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area.
The park is located in Aiea on Oahu at the end of Aiea Heights Drive.
The trail loop is 4.8 miles and takes about 3 hours to complete.  It’s billed as an easy hike suitable for families with kids.  It can be strenuous specially if you’re carrying infants and toddlers.  There’s a short paved portion at the beginning mistakenly leading one to believe that it’s a cake walk.  It is not.  The trail has narrow portions at the edge of the cliff so make sure little ones are kept close.  You may have to climb over or crawl under several downed trees that block the path, and the trail has some steep sections.  There are a couple of benches strategically placed along the trail where you can rest and enjoy some awesome views.  There is also remnants of a plane that crashed there in 1944, it’s been slowly disappearing over the years but you can still make out a few pieces.
We’ve done this trail many times with the kids.  We started taking them there as toddlers but never really completed the loop until they were about 7 years old or so.  We’ve taken our old Doberman on this trail, but she had to be carried over some trees and bribed to go up the steeper slopes, not so much fun when your dog weighs 90 pounds.
Do bring plenty of water on the trail and perhaps some energy snacks for the kids.  If you like you can camp at the park, but you must obtain a camping permit.
You don’t have to be a guest at The Kahala Hotel to watch the dolphin feedings at 11:00am/2:00 & 4:00pm daily.

 

You can park at the hotel for a fee or park for free at the Waialae Beach Park and walk along the beach to the hotel.  You can wander around the hotel grounds and enjoy their landscaping with lush tropical greenery and waterfalls.  You can even enjoy the beach fronting the hotel and dine at one of their restaurants.  The beach is free to all but beach and water sports equipment is limited to hotel guests.  Restaurants and bars are open to the public, but they are rather pricey.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in HawaiiFor a nice respite from Waikiki relax at the Kakaako Waterfront Park.  It’s a great open space in the middle of Honolulu’s industrial area.  The kids like to slide down the hill on cardboard boxes.  You can walk along the paved sidewalk along the shore or even go fishing.  There are picnic tables and benches throughout the park and restroom facilities.
Courtesy of Iolani Palace
Listen to a free concert by the Royal Hawaiian Band while enjoying a picnic lunch on the Iolani Palace lawn.  The Royal Hawaiian Band gives a free concert at the Palace most Fridays between 11:00 – 1:00 weather permitting.
Iolani Palace is the only real royal residence in the United States.  It is located on King Street in Downtown Honolulu across the street from the famous King Kamehameha statue.
Tours of the Palace start at $14.95 for an audio guided self-tour.  Children under 4 must be carried during the tour.
There’s also a museum in the basement that houses artifacts from the days when Hawaii was a Monarchy.  They also offer Hawaiian Quilt Making Classes.
Click here for more info.
Fly a kite or ride a bike at the Blaisdell Park in Pearl City.  This neighborhood park in Pearl City is a local favorite.  The wide open space is a great place to fly a kite and the bike path along the water has great views of Pearl Harbor.

FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii

We’ve hosted many kid’s birthday parties at this park.  There are picnic tables and benches, restrooms, and exercise equipment the kids can climb and hang from.
The park is located on Kam Hwy.  a few miles west of Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial.  You can pick up a picnic lunch at one of the many restaurants along the way and enjoy it under one of the many trees in the park.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in HawaiiSpend Saturday morning at the KCC Farmers’ Market.  Located on Diamond Head Road at the Kapiolani Community College parking lot the market is open every Saturday from 7:30 am – 11:00 am.
You’ll find the best locally grown produce and flowers here, as well as a large assortment of freshly baked goods, jams & jellies, and much more.
There are other Farmer’s Markets around the island click here for schedule and locations.
FREE Things to Do with Kids in Hawaii
Don’t forget the Hawaii State Public Libraries.  They offer free activities, classes, movies nights, and events year round at most of the libraries in the state.
My grandsons and I attend Children’s Story Time and Craft Time weekly and have attended various events at different libraries around the island.  Click here for more info, schedules, and locations.
 Pearlridge Center located in Aiea has a free kids’ program called Connect Kids.  Members can participate in events and activities at the mall throughout the year.
My grandsons enjoy performances by Chris the Clown, and interactive song and dance programs by Gymboree.
Click here for membership application and event schedule.
Watch a free Hula Show at Ala Moana Center’s center stage. There’s a Hula show presented by Old Navy Monday – Saturday from 11:00 – 11:20 am. There are other performances and events throughout the year.
Click here for schedule of events and other mall info[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
FREE Things to Do with Kids in HawaiiEvery Friday night the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a fireworks show that can be seen on the beaches along the coast from Ala Moana to Diamond Head.
Pick a spot and enjoy the free show.

For a list of the best kids friendly hotels in Hawaii Click Here!

For more kid friendly activities in Hawaii Click Here!


Free Dinner

25 Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

25 Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

The Burj Al Arab has become the modern symbol of Dubai. Whenever Dubai is mentioned this beautiful iconic building is almost always the first thing that comes to mind.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Dubai has a lot of fun things to do for kids; water parks, theme parks, skiing, and more; but admission and tickets to these places add up fast, making a Dubai vacation pretty costly.

Here is a list of things you can do with kids in Dubai that are free or cheap, combining them with some paid attractions will help stretch your vacation dollars and make your vacation all the more memorable.

A visit to Dubai is not complete without at least seeing this building which is home to what is billed the world’s only 7 star hotel.  The nightly cost to stay at this hotel starts at around $2000, but you don’t have to stay there to see it, at least from the outside.

You are welcome to enjoy a meal or snack at one of its restaurants or bars, but it will be expensive. We had lunch at the Al Iwan, the Arabic buffet restaurant on the first floor, a couple of years ago. We paid a over $400 for 3 adults; the price for a lunch buffet is 505AED ($138US) per person.  Children 3-12 is 50% off, under 3 is free.

There are other restaurants, bars, and lounges in the hotel, expect to pay high prices and you must have reservations to get on hotel property; you’re name is checked off at the gate; no reservation, no entry.

If you don’t want to actually go inside the building you can see it as you walk along the shore of Jumeirah Beach.  If  you’re not staying in one of the hotels along this stretch of sand you can spend the day at Jumeirah Beach Park, entrance to the Park is 5AED ($1.36US), a considerably cheaper option than staying or dining at the hotel!  Great views of the building can also been seen if you’re on Jumeirah Beach Road.

Superb views of the Burj can also been seen from Kite Beach, entrance is free.  Kite Beach is on the shore opposite the Al Manara Road junction

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiSafa Park in Dubai is a large green space in the middle of the the city’s modern high rise buildings.

The park has 3 lakes, a waterfall, and a fountain.  Park facilities include boat and bike rentals, barbecue area, sports fields and courts, snack bars, and stores.

Entrance fee is 5AED for adults ($1.36US)

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiZa’abeel Park in the more residential area of Dubai is another large municipal park in the city that holdsthe distinction of being the first technology driven park in the Middle East.

The park has children play areas, lake with boat rentals, an ice skating rink, mini golf and cricket, 3D cinema, picnic and barbecue areas, cafes, and more.

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

It is also home to Stargate Dubai a futuristic indoor space themed educational and entertainment center.

Park entrance is 5AED ($1.36US) for adults. Entrance to Stargate is free.   All park attractions are priced separately.

If you time your visit on Friday mornings you can wander around the Ripe Food & Craft Market in the park.  It’s Dubai’s largest open market featuring food at very reasonable prices and local crafts as well.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

Al-Mamzar Beach Park located close to Hamriya Port is one of the best beaches in Dubai.  It has 5 coves along the coast, green space, swimming pools, a park train, play areas, rollerskating rink, bike rentals, barbecue areas, chalet rentals, restaurants, and more.

Park entrance is 5AED ($1.36US) per person.
Air-conditioned chalets can be rented daily for 150AED ($41US) for a small that fits 4 people and 200AED ($54US) for a large that fits 6.  All activities and attractions including pools require separate fees.

Mondays and Wednesdays are ladies day, meaning the park is open only to women and their children (male children up to a certain age only)

Russian Beach, on the lower end of Beach Road on the opposite side of the Burj Al Arab is an open free beach.

There are some showers and restrooms, but the facilities are limited.  However the shops and restaurants along Beach Road are close by.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

JBR Beach is another free beach.  It’s located next door to the Jumeirah Beach Resort.  It has clean facilities including restrooms and showers and a bit of green space.  There are also many ocean view restaurants around where you can enjoy a nice lunch or snack.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a ride on the Metro.  It’s not so much the destination, it’s the ride on this state of the art driverless automated train that kids love!  You can start at Dubai Mall to Dubai Marina and back again.

Fares are 2-6AED (.50 – 1.50US) depending on the length of the ride.

The kids will love the space age looking stations!  My grandsons thought they were cool, they look straight out of s sci-fic movie!

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

The Dubai Miracle Garden is a refreshing break from all the buildings, although they do have a floral version of the Burj Khalife.

There are kid’s play areas, , and floral displays.

Admission is 30AED ($8.25US) per person
Kids 3 and under are free[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Take a wooden boat across the creek, (an Abra found along the creek in Bur Dubai), to the Gold Souk in Deira.  You can just wander along the alleys for a bit of window shopping.
The amount of “Bling” in the shop windows is amazing.  You don’t have to buy anything, assuming you can resist the temptation of different shades of gold just calling your name. I can never resist and end up spending way too much, next time I’m leaving the credit cards locked in the hotel safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll find these abras along the creek in Bur Dubai ferrying people across the creek.  It’s the best way to get to the Gold Souk in Diera to avoid the problem of finding parking.

The kids will love bobbing along this wooden boat that have been modernized with the addition of diesel engines.  You’ll get a different perspective of the Dubai skyline.

The cost of an abra ride is 1AED, .27 cents US![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

Take a day trip to the Emirate of S

 

harjah and search for bargains at the Blue Souk.

The tile on the outside is worth the trip!  The inside is filled with shops selling everything from electronics to antiques.  There are several snack bars inside as well.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiBuilt in 1787 the Al Fahidi Fort is the oldest building in the city.  It houses the Dubai Museum where you can learn about the region’s history.  They have various exhibits of historic books, traditional dress, and dhows (wooden boats).

The Museum is located in Bur Dubai.
Admission tickets cost 3AED (.80US) for adults and half price for children.

 

 

 

Built in the late 19th. Century along the Creek at Shindagha is the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House.  Once the seat of the local government and the official residence of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, the grandfather of the current ruler, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, this imposing building has been converted into a museum that showcases the progression of Dubai from Bedouin tents lining the creek to the amazing buildings we see today.

The ancient wind towers served to cool the building and is a testament to Arab architectural ingenuity.  For those interested in architecture this museum is a must see!  Admission cost is 2AED, (.54US)

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiLocated behind the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House
is the Camel Museum.  The museum will probably tell you everything and more that you want to know about camels.  This museum is a testament to the Emiratis’ passion for their beloved animals and explains why they they gained such prominence in Arab history.

The museum blends history with technology with their camel race simulator.  Visitors can virtually ride a camel in a race.

Admission is free.

 

 

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Take a breakfast picnic to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary .  The sanctuary has 3 hides, head to the Hide 2 at the junction of the Al Wasl and Oud Metha roads, that’s by the flamingo roost.  If you’re there at high tide the kids will love watching the big pink birds.

Admission is free, just register in the visitor’s logbook.

 

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Check out the Dubai Dino.  This is an almost complete skeleton of a dinosaur called
Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus. It was discovered in 2008 in Wyoming, USA and transported to its new home at the Dubai Mall.

Talk to the Dubai Dino Team, they’re armed with some interesting facts.

Best of all it’s free!

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

While you’re at The Dubai Mall have a look at the Dubai Aquarium.  The gigantic aquarium is the Centerpiece of The Dubai Mall.  You can view the aquarium inhabitants from the mall viewing panels for free, but if you want to walk thru the tunnel for a more up close and personal look you must purchase a ticket.  Tickets include a walk thru the tunnel and a visit to the Underwater Zoo.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Directly across the Dubai Aquarium  is Candylicious one of the world’s largest candy stores.  It’s also the home to Spun Candy  where candy confectioners make handmade candy on site.  You can even design your own candy and watch them make it for you.

A visit to the store is free, but what you fill your basket with is totally up to you and your budget.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

If you’re at The Dubai Mall, wander around, window shop, and enjoy the fountain and store fronts, some of them are pretty cool.  My grandkids loved the kiosk selling Camel Milk Candy, there’s a large golden camel at the front!

If you’re hungry wander over to the huge food court or one of the many restaurants throughout the mall.  Better yet grab an outdoor table at one of the eateries along The Dubai Fountain and watch the show.  The fountains shoot up to 500 ft. and dance to all types of music.  There are daily afternoon shows (except Fridays) at 1:00 and 1:30, and evening shows every day every half hour from 6:00 to 11:00.

This area also offers wonderful views of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiLet the kids splash around in the fountain at Marina Walk, it’s fun and it’s free!  Just bring a change of clothes for them.

You can grab a cup of java from the Starbucks next to the fountain and keep an eye on the kids from the outdoor tables.

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Catch a ride on the Marina Water Bus.  This air conditioned boat shuttles between  Marina Walk, Marina Mall, and Marina Promenade.  The cost is 2AED (.54US) each way, kids ride free.

 

 

 

Feed the ducks in the lake located in the Dubai Media City Park, it’s a bit of green space with a couple of cafes near by.  Along with the ducks you may see some office working having lunch or just taking a break.  There are no facilities, and no admission fees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Head a bit out of town to the Mirdif area to Mushrif Park.  It’s the largest park in Dubai. The park has pools, gardens, playgrounds, camel and horse rides, train rides, bike and walking paths, but the best attraction is the International Village.  The village has 13 child-size houses from around the world, perfect for tots filled with imagination.

Admission is 3AED (less than $1US)

 

 

 

 

The Burj Park is a man made island between the Burj Khalifa lakes.  It offers an excellent view of the Burj as well at The Dubai Fountain show nearby; best of all you can enjoy the Burj and the fountain away from the jostling crowds at the mall.

There are no shops or cafes here, but the mall is steps away, you can grab a drink or snack from there and have a picnic in this small green space in the middle of downtown Dubai.

Admission is free and it’s open 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

Creek Park  along the Dubai Creek in the heart of the old city is one of the oldest parks in the city.  It’s home to the Children’s City, Dubai Dolphinarium, and Wonderland Theme & Water Parks.

There are barbecue and picnic areas through out the park as well as play areas and walking paths.  You can also ride the cable car for views of the city.

Park admission is 5AED ($1.30US) per person and must be paid even if you have tickets to the attractions inside.  Cable car tickets can be purchased separately.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Children’s City in Creek Park is an interactive museum geared towards kids from 2-15 years old.  They have fun displays to teach kids about the world we live in.

They have a toddler’s section for little ones to climb and play, a human body section, a planetarium, and more.

Last time we were there children went it free and adults were 5AED ($1.30US).  It’s a great place to spend a hot summer afternoon.  It’s air conditioned and there’s a small snack bar where you can purchase lunch or snacks, or you can bring your own and eat it there.

For more info on Children’s City click here!
Address: Creekside Park, Gate 1, Umm Hurair.
Open: Saturday to Thursday 09:00 to 21:30;   Friday 15:00 to 21:30
For more things to see and do in Dubai click here!