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Dave Parfitt

Rochester, New York

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My Travel Style

This family of four has many styles, sometimes active, sometimes laid back, but we all have a passion for travel, seeing new places and things and places. Both my wife and I are academics, live in the heart of the Finger Lakes, and love to learn through our travels.

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Skytop Lodge

One Skytop, Skytop, Pennsylvania

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  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)

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Visited: 2013-08-01 | Submitted: 2013-09-14 16:44:48.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Skytop Lodge - A Quintessential Pocono Mountains Luxury Family Escape

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Skytop Lodge is one of those destinations that can easily entertain the whole family. It's not inexpensive, but the all-inclusive option makes your money go very far. We loved our over-sized room in the Inn overlooking the 18th green of the golf course. You will certainly need more than a long weekend to fully, experience all the activities, and with the changing seasons, there will always be something new to experience at Skytop. Fortunately, there are so many activities to keep the family occupied, because the food is so good. They will feed you and feed you with gourmet offerings, so take advantage of the hikes to work it off.

Tips for Families

Take advantage of the "Family Fun" package that includes your room, three LARGE meals daily, a round of golf each day, and all of the daily, seasonal recreational activities.

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Legoland Florida

1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, Florida

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  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2013-03-01 | Submitted: 2013-07-05 10:30:15.0 | I traveled with teens (13+)

LEGOLAND Florida is fun for college age kids too

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LEGOLAND Florida is a theme park “dedicated to families with children between the ages of 2 and 12.” So what about those kids 13+? I took a group of college students to the park over spring break, and we all had a fantastic time. “Everyone played with LEGOs growing up! LEGOs are universal, they don’t have age restrictions.” The students told me again and again. LEGOLAND Florida has more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions, but I was most interested in the aspects of the park that made it most unique, most LEGO if you will. I could have spent hours in Miniland USA exploring the LEGO models. The level of detail was amazing. I had no idea how much movement and animation was featured, and it was simply a photographer’s paradise.

Tips for Families

Make sure you see the water ski show and Cypress Gardens area. These are holdovers from the original "Cypress Gardens" theme park, and really make LEGOLAND Florida unique. It's a bit of old-time Florida before all the development.

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Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky

4600 Milan Road, Sandusky, Ohio

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  • Teens (13+)

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Visited: 2012-06-01 | Submitted: 2013-01-27 22:15:40.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Munch, Splash, and Flash at Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky

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Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky reminded me of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World, but my 14 year old daughter quickly added, “this is better, it has a waterpark!” We LOVED our room. It had two-parts, a sleeping area with 2 queen beds, and a living room with a sofabed separated by a half wall divider. The living area had a corner fireplace with a flatscreen TV hung above it. The room also had a good sized balcony for additional space. The suite fit our family just fine. We made good use of the water park tickets included with our room. From getting drenched by the 1,000 gallon dump bucket of the Fort Mackenzie splash ground, to sliding down every tube and body slide, to floating in the lazy river, to swimming in the outdoor pool, to soaking in the hot tub – we did it all. The weekend escape to Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky was a great way for our family to celebrate the end of the busy school year.

Tips for Families

Suites can be a little pricey so keep your eyes out for discounts and promotions from Great Wolf Lodge. The best way to find out about the deals is to sign up for the ePack mailing list for your destination, and offers will be e-mailed directly to you.

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Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Lake Buena Vista

1500 Epcot Resort Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

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Visited: 2010-12-01 | Submitted: 2013-01-27 13:22:38.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Can't go wrong with WDW Dolphin or Swan Resorts

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We love the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. The rooms are large, the beds are soft and comfortable (they're not kidding when they say "Heavenly"), and you're within walking distance of two Walt Disney World theme parks (Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios). Best of all, because these are not official Disney Resort hotels you can find great deals. You are definitely getting "Deluxe" accommodations for the price of a "Moderate" (or less).

Tips for Families

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort has many discounts available for teachers, government employees, military and nurses. Be sure to ask if the discounts apply. We like the Swan a little more than the Dolphin because it's a little smaller and easier to get around. However, both hotels are fabulous for families at Disney, and we've stayed at the Dolphin many times and have always been happy.

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Walt Disney World Swan Resort Lake Buena Vista

1200 Epcot Resort Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

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Visited: 2010-12-01 | Submitted: 2013-01-27 13:22:16.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Deluxe Disney Accomodations for a Moderate Price

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We love the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. The rooms are large, the beds are soft and comfortable (they're not kidding when they say "Heavenly"), and you're within walking distance of two Walt Disney World theme parks (Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios). Best of all, because these are not official Disney Resort hotels you can find great deals. You are definitely getting "Deluxe" accommodations for the price of a "Moderate" (or less).

Tips for Families

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort has many discounts available for teachers, government employees, military and nurses. Be sure to ask if the discounts apply. We like the Swan a little more than the Dolphin because it's a little smaller and easier to get around. However, both hotels are fabulous for families at Disney.

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Nickelodeon Suites Resort Orlando

14500 Continental Gateway, Orlando, Florida

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • Connecting rooms
  • Sleeper sofa
  • Kids stay free
  • Can accommodate large families
  • Smoke-free property
  • Kids' club
  • On-site restaurant(s)
  • Kids' menu in restaurant
  • Refrigerator in room
  • Microwave in room


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  • Tweens (9-12)

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Visited: 2010-10-01 | Submitted: 2013-01-16 19:42:35.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Nickelodeon Suites - The Slime of Your Life

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Let me state from the beginning – in case it’s not obvious – Nick Suites is themed and geared for kids. You know what Chuck-E-Cheese did for your local pizza place? Nick Suites is what would happen if Chuck-E-Cheese got their hands on a hotel, and then poured slime all over it. Now hear me out, I’m not criticizing Nick Suites for this, they do what they do very well, but it’s not a place for adults without kids. Unless there is something askew in your personality, or you have slime running through your veins. We checked in on a Friday around 2:00 pm, and waited in line for 20 minutes or so to check in. The girls entertained themselves watching TV in the lobby while I stood in line. We had a great room, a large (nearly 500 sq ft), 2-bedroom kidsuite on the top floor overlooking the splash tower water play area. We arrived just in time for the afternoon sliming with throngs of children standing at the base of a giant SpongeBob altar, complete with 400 gallon bucket, chanting “Slime! Slime!! SLIME!!!” What Lord of the Flies world have I brought my children to? I shook and ducked my head and sought the security of our room. You enter to find a nice-sized sitting/living area with a pullout sleeper sofa. The opposite wall contains an entertainment console with 32? flat screen TV and small dining area. Our suite contained a kitchenette equipped with coffee-maker, mini-refrigerator, microwave, and a sink. Some of the suites contain a full-size kitchen with a stove top range, full size refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, and all cookware and eating utensils. These would be perfect for an extended vacation stay for a family. Our room was themed around the Nick show “Fairly OddParents”, and characters from the show were emblazoned on the walls of the kids bedroom. Their room had bunk beds, and was separated out from the living room and adult bedroom by a curtain. The girls loved their room. Our 12 year old said, “I was really surprised with the quality of the rooms. I thought Nick Suites would be all about the waterpark with the rooms an afterthought.” In addition to the bunk beds, the room had plenty of dressers and storage areas, a 20? TV with kid friendly remote, and speakers built into the frames of the beds. A handy feature so the TV was not blaring loud while they were lying in bed. Across from the kids’ room was the adult room. With its muted colors and lighting, this area had a completely different feel from the kid’s space, and was a welcome retreat. The room had a door that could be shut for complete privacy, and was furnished with a king sized bed, 25? TV, and lit dressing area. The only complaint was that facing the pool area, it could get quite noisy. DJs and dance parties would occur on the pool deck, and the amplified music could get very loud. The room we had was very nice, but I was most surprised at how much there was to do at Nick Suites. Keep in mind these facilities and activities are only available for registered guests staying at the resort. There is a sit-down restaurant, the NickToons Cafe, and a food court containing Uno’s Pizza, Subway, as well as the usual burgers, chicken fingers, and fries. There are character breakfasts every day with SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora and Diego, Aang from Avatar: the Last Airbender, and Ming Ming from NickJr’s Wonder Pets. The food was fairly standard breakfast fare including SpongeBob waffles, hash browns, bacon, sausage, cooked to order omelets, and fruit. It’s a good way to get photos and autographs with characters that, except for SpongeBob, you aren’t going to find elsewhere around Orlando. The highlight and centerpiece of Nickelodeon Suites is certainly the water park area. One wing of the hotel surrounds a lagoon containing a heated, zero-entry pool, and is anchored by a 4-story water play area with climbing nets, water canons, water flumes, slides, and the aforementioned 400 gallon bucket that dumps both water and slime. When not enjoying the slides and water park area, guests can relax, swim, and splash in the pool. Throughout the day there is “Dive-In” entertainment with Nick style shows performed poolside. We soaked in the water and laughed watching families compete in shows fueled by a high-octane cast armed with whipped cream pies and… Slime, always lots and lots of slime… We capped off our weekend by spending the evening playing video games in the 3,000 sq ft arcade. We played air hockey and basketball and whack-a-mole and so many games I can’t remember what they were called. This doesn’t begin to touch on all the different ways families can play together at Nick Suites – as there’s plenty we did not have time to try such as: Studio Nick with live, nightly entertainment, a 4-D movie theater, mini-golf, and kid’s spa. There is so much to do at the resort you can easily entertain your family for a day or two of your vacation without ever leaving property. We had a great family weekend eating, swimming, playing, and just spending time together.

Tips for Families

Nick Suites surprised us with their pleasant rooms appropriate for both kids and adult as well as the wealth of activities to keep everyone entertained. We definitely can’t wait to go back.

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Shield'S Tavern

422 E Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, Virginia

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2009-08-01 | Submitted: 2013-01-12 13:48:49.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

An 18th Century Dining Experience that's also a cool respite

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When visiting Colonial Williamsburg you owe it to your family to dine in one of the colonial taverns. We ate at Shield's Tavern built in 1745. Some reviews don't care for Shield's because you can get sat in the basement where it's very dark. We ended up in the basement - or wine cellar as they called it. It is dark, but we loved it. It was a welcome break from the very strong summer sun, and it was nice and cool. Musicians came by playing period music. And Mr. Shield makes the rounds making sure all the guests are happy. Mr. Shield is a real character, and had everyone laughing.

Tips for Families

This was a splurge dinner for our vacation, and we all really enjoyed it. I had a beef potroast over mashed potatoes, that was delicious. My wife loved her seafood chowder, and the berry crumble dessert was fantastic.

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Hampton Inn At The Falls Niagara Falls

5591 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls, Ontario

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • Rollaway beds available
  • Smoke-free property
  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Cribs (infant beds) available
  • Video game system in room


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  • Teens (13+)

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Visited: 2012-04-01 | Submitted: 2013-01-06 21:10:37.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Clean Hotel in Walking Distance of Clifton Hill and Free Parking

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We arrived at the Hampton Inn by the Falls around 4:00pm Saturday, checked in quickly, and received a 2 queen bed room on the 4th floor. The elevators were very slow, but we were patient. When we opened the door, we were pleasantly surprised. The main room was quite spacious, with 2 ample, plush queen beds, and a large picture window facing Niagara Falls. You couldn’t see the Falls directly (it wasn’t advertised you could), but you could see the attractions of Clifton Hill, and the spray from Niagara off in the distance. The room was clean; the beds were soft and comfortable; and there was plenty of space for our family of four. Our guestroom also had a 32” flatscreen TV and free Wi Fi, but we never turned on the TV (very rare for our family) or tested the Wi Fi (very rare for me) during our stay. The room showed some signs of age. The plates covering the electrical plugs were loose. The handles on the closet doors fell off (they were adhered with double sided tape). However, none of these things detracted from our stay. The bathroom was small for 4 people in the room, and water pressure in the shower could have been higher. However, we were quite satisfied with our room, stay, and location. Plus, parking was free – compared to $10 – $19/night for the other hotels of the resort complex (keep that in mind when booking Niagara Falls hotels; I hate paying for parking!).

Tips for Families

Here’s the only real complaint about the Hampton Inn at the Falls – they needed better signage to point the way to the water park and rest of resort. We walked the block to the casino entrance, but it never occurred to us we should walk into the parking garage to get to our destination. A sign here would have been very, very helpful. Instead we walked all the way around the casino, up, around, and down Clifton Hill. This was very inconvenient especially when one family member has mobility issues. Other than that, we would definitely recommend staying at the Hampton Inn at the Falls.

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SeaWorld

7007 SeaWorld Dr, Orlando, Florida

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Visited: 2012-03-01 | Submitted: 2013-01-04 20:20:46.0 | I traveled with teens (13+)

Shamu, Shows, and Sun at SeaWorld Orlando

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We spent a full, wonderful spring day at SeaWorld Orlando seeing shows, riding roller coasters, and enjoying the landscaping and scenery in the sun. In one day we were able to see a dolphin show (Blue Horizons), the killer whale show (One Ocean), and a sea lion show (Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island). We also rode the roller coasters Manta and Kraken. During the height of spring break there were not many lines. SeaWorld is a gorgeous park, and it's wonderful to walk around and enjoy the scenery, landscaping, and animals.

Tips for Families

Purchase your tickets ahead of time online to save $10/ticket.

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Fallsview Indoor Waterpark

5685 Falls Avenue, Niagara Falls, Ontario

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  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2012-04-01 | Submitted: 2013-01-04 14:33:30.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Fallsview Indoor Waterpark Good for a Quick, Family Getaway

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The waterpark sits on top of the parking structure attached to the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls – Fallsview Hotel. Walking through a garage, doesn’t quite set the - whisked away to a tropical oasis – mood. However, once inside the waterpark, it’s easy to forget you’re on top of a parking garage. The waterpark has a number of water slides including: twisty tube slides, speedy body and mat slides, and the requisite swirly “toilet bowl” plunge. There’s also a large wave pool, a climbing splash playground with 1,000 gallon dump bucket, and even an outdoor pool with basketball hoops (surprised me for Canada, but there were people out there). The girls and I had a great time swimming and sliding at the water park. Mom decided not to go in the water, but relaxed with a book at the Planet Hollywood Beach Club snack bar. For a holiday weekend, we expected big crowds, but it wasn’t bad at all. Waits for the slides were not too long – except for the swirling “Canadian Plunge” bowl, but those are typically very slow lines. The park was a little smaller than others such as Great Wolf Lodge or Splash Lagoon and could have used a lazy river ride. However, with admission tickets included in our hotel package, the price was right to spend a few hours swimming, slipping, and sliding.

Tips for Families

Our family thought the one night Falls Avenue Resort Package was a great value. For $199 CAD we had a fine hotel room within walking distance of the Clifton Hills tourist area and two days of passes to the Fallsview Indoor Water Park. That price itself was a good value. We also highly recommend the early bird “kids eat free” dinner buffet at the Sheraton Fallsview Restaurant.

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