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Heifer Village

World Ave., Little Rock, Arkansas

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  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2012-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-19 20:04:09.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Become Difference Makers

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Heifer Village on the Heifer International Campus in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, introduces visitors to the possibility of a world free of hunger and poverty. A hands-on, global education facility located across from the Clinton Presidential Library, Heifer Village is home to interactive exhibits that provide a stimulating and challenging educational experience for people of all ages. Heifer Village offers programs and events throughout the year for families and adults. Check our public events page often to make sure you don't miss anything! If you feel like getting more involved, consider making an international donation or talk to us about other charitable gift ideas. Heifer Village features an outdoor commons area and a state-of-the-art conference hall where international academic experts and thought leaders, Heifer International staff and visitors will learn from each other as well as directly from those achieving self-sufficiency around the world. Heifer Village is located next door to the Clinton Presidential Library. We did both in one amazing day, with a break for hush puppies in the middle of the day and a great Southern meal down at the River District after. We highly recommend both experiences for any one traveling near Little Rock with children. Heifer Village itself is incredible. Designed as a sustainable and environmentally sensitive building, with adjacent wetlands, which support native species, the whole place is an environmentalist's dream. We were there on a quiet day and were lucky enough to have a staff member take us all over the campus explaining the sustainability of every aspect of the building and the land around it. See if you can ask someone to do that for your family! Heifer Village is also a place where kids can learn about solutions to global hunger and poverty. Through interactive games and computer programs, kids learn that they can make a difference in this world starting now. My kids loved this place and were dying to visit the Heifer Ranch as well, 45 miles away, where kids can interact with many of the animals that are available to gift to families and communities in need around the world.

Tips for Families

Arrive early and plan to spend the entire day divided between the Heifer experience and the Clinton Presidential Library. Be prepared for your kids to come away wanting to be difference makers!

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William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park

1200 President Clinton Av, Little Rock, Arkansas

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  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2012-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-19 19:49:57.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Hope!

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I have to say: Presidential Libraries are actually FUN places to take the kids! We've been to several now and they no longer roll their eyes at me when I suggest it! The Clinton Library has probably been our favorite so far, most likely because there's a lot of state-of-the-art interactive things for the kids to do. These appeal to all ages. It's also a beautiful location, on the banks of the Arkansas River, and a gorgeous contemporary facility. We took a self-guided audio tour, which was included with the price of admission ($3 for kids 6-17, $7 for adults). My son, of course, loved the presidential limousine and all the Elvis memorabilia. The girls were fascinated by all the gifts the Clintons received from all over the world which are on display. We all (totally me!) got a thrill sitting in the President's chair in the replica of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room. We saw a fabulous documentary of his life thus far that was really entertaining and inspirational.

Tips for Families

Little Rock's River Market District is a short walk along the river from the Library. Here you will find fun shops to explore and great Southern cooking restaurants-- hush puppies!

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Craters Of The Moon National Monument & Preserve

Carey, Idaho

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  • Big kids (6-8)
  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2012-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-19 19:37:37.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8), tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

A Walk on the Moon

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I'm sure they thought I was crazy as we drove for hours from Montana into Idaho, with no town in sight. They'd ask, "Where are we going?" And I would reply, "For a walk on the Moon!" Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is one of those places that's truly hard to believe is real. In the middle of literally NOWHERE, this eerie, beautiful place emerges... wow! We arrived later than I would have liked and so the visitor center was closed, but the park pamphlet was very thorough and we were able to drive the entire loop with stops to explore, before watching the most colorful and WIDE sunset I've ever seen. Craters of the Moon is a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush. We climbed a volcano and explored lave tube caves filled with bats (oh my!) and felt transported to another world. The kids loved it so much they begged to go back and camp there for a week! This is an unforgettable experience that will leave you and your kids pondering the universe and curious about the past and future in ways you never imagined!

Tips for Families

Arrive early and plan to spend the entire day there! The nearest motels are 18 miles away in Arco. Have your kids sign up for the Geo-Ranger program and definitely go caving! Be sure to have packed some food because there is no where to eat in the Park.

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Central Park

59th St to 110th St, between 5th Ave & 8th Ave, New York City, New York

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  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2012-08-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-19 18:52:11.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Summertime in the City

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Ok, so we knew it was a big park. But, really? HILLS? Big hills! We thought we'd go for a little bike ride in the park... we rented cruisers from the Boathouse Bicycle Rental shack at Loeb Boathouse ($9 per hour). Given the hills we encountered (and the heat), we should have gone for the 21-speed bikes as the 1 speed cruisers were really difficult! I had printed a list of 10 things for my kids to find in the park (www.centralparknyc.org) ahead of time. Oh my, I should have looked at a map! We biked for hours finding them all, getting lost, picnicing, laughing, and drinking tons of water. My best recommendation is to print out a map, highlight fun finds, take extra water and a picnic in a backpack (you can rent a basket with the bike rental) and explore every inch you can of this magnificent park. Favorite finds of ours were: Balto, the Ancient Bridge, Bridge No. 24, the Chess and Checkers House, the Gill, and the Diana Ross Playground. The park is full of all kinds of secrets... you just have to explore them and be prepared to pedal hard!

Tips for Families

If you can also pack a picnic blanket, it helps! Buy your food outside of the park to keep costs down. If you want to cover the upper part of the park, consider the 21-speed bikes.

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Battery Park

Battery Pl, State St and Whitehall St, New York City, New York

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  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2012-08-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-19 17:51:09.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Memories to Build On

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My older kids had both been on school trips to Ground Zero and felt the pain of the loss of so many lives on 9/11. I wanted them, and my younger child, to also feel the pride and joy of an area of New York being rebuilt and rediscovered by a new generation. And so we set off for Battery Park City, a one-mile long riverfront esplanade, just across West Street from Ground Zero. We were on a mission to discover how many tiny bronze statues we could find in the Sculpture Garden, the rock slides of Teardrop Park, and the drumming circle. What a fantastic day! The sculptures are whimsical and delightful, and my kids loved searching for them. The slide was so fun, as were all the rocks to hop among in this beautiful ode to the Hudson River Valley themed park. My kids enjoyed a little time learning about the history of tall buildings at the Skyscraper Museum (39 Battery Place at West) as well as about the connection New York had to the Potato Famine of Ireland and the immigrants who poured into NYC thereafter at the Irish Hunger Memorial (Vesey Street). From here we were delighted to stumble onto an area of outdoor tables where we could enjoy lunch, NYer style! The rest of the day was spent around the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, which offers programs all summer long for kids of all ages. From story telling to scavenger hunts, outdoor games to movies shown on the lawn at night, this was a fantastic place to just be with other NY families. The best part was in the late afternoon when the drumming circle began. Everyone was encouraged to join in and pick up one of the array of instruments in the center of the circle and let the music just come to you! It was incredible! Like a heartbeat... with the new tower looming above as a reminder of devastation and life continuing all around. Battery Park City gave us memories to build on.

Tips for Families

Seriously one of the most fun lunch experiences ever with my kids: At North End Avenue and Vesey Street, there are a variety of gourmet food carts rolling around, but my kids were thrilled by the number of food trucks and eagerly each chose a different one! It's a little pricey, but one of those kinda priceless moments! My son devoured Lebanese food for the first time. One daughter delighted in French fare, while the other went cuckoo for Italian cuisine. Delicious salad for mom. And the best views of NY Harbor. Fantastic!

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Omni La Mansion Del Rio Hotel San Antonio

112 College Street, San Antonio, Texas

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • Rollaway beds available
  • Smoke-free property
  • Pet friendly
  • Babysitting
  • Kids' club
  • On-site restaurant(s)
  • Cribs (infant beds) available
  • Outdoor pool


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  • Teens (13+)

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Visited: 2011-04-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-10 19:21:04.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Spanish delight on the riverwalk

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Probably one our all time favorite surprise hotels! This one is a real jewel! Right when we entered the hotel it felt like we had traveled to Spain. The Spanish Colonial architecture is instantly warm and inviting. We arrived on a really hot day and were greeted with ice cold glasses of yummy fruit-infused water. I think my son had 6 glasses on the spot! As we opened the door to our room I heard each of my kids literally squeal with delight. There were two huge, puffy featherbed covered beds that you had to jump to get into-- perfect way to get an instant smile from a kid! But the best were the oversized French doors that opened to a magnificent courtyard pool! This isn't your typical glitzy hotel pool-- it is old world, elegant, colorful, and very beautiful. Fancy! And yet it was filled with swim noodles of every color of the rainbow and happy kids splashing around under the fountain at one end. Pure luxury and lightness at a family rate. Ahhhhh. My kids spent hours frolicking in the pool and filling up on chips and salsa (fabulous margaritas, by the way!). After an incredible Mexican dinner (guacamole made fresh at the table, with citrus squeezed in... YUMMMM), we strolled the historic RiverWalk. Live music streamed out... the kids loved it all and so did I. We couldn't wait to get back to the hotel, though, and those inviting beds. This was a Spanish paradise!

Tips for Families

Plan out your days in San Antonio as there is much to do! Just remember to leave a couple of hours in the schedule for a swim in this glorious pool. It's refreshing and soothing and will energize you and the kids to go out and take in more of this fun town!

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Broadway Saratoga

Saratoga Springs, New York

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  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2012-12-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-10 18:55:22.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Downtown Saratoga Springs

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Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall downtown Saratoga Springs delights the kids. Among our most favorite experiences on Broadway (and the surrounding side streets) is the Victorian Street walk each December. Whether or not there's snow, the streets come alive with the spirit of the holidays and merry faces. From visits with Santa or Frosty the Snowman to live Nutcracker performances in the windows of the local paperie, Paper Dolls to cider and warm chestnuts... it's a trip down the streets of yore that my kids absolutely love. Carolers stroll the closed off street and street performers entertain young and old. In the warmer months the sidewalks are filled with happy families headed to Plum Dandy for frozen yogurt (pomegranate and mango, oh my!) or to one of the fabulous cafes scattered around town. When my kids need a little TLC and mom time, I surprise them with a visit to Ravenous, where I have a yummy healthy crepe and they lift their spirits with a cone of pommes frites and a variety of dipping sauces. Summer takes us down the street a couple blocks to the Farmer's Market-- a real Saratoga delight that kids, parents, grandparents and dogs just love! From the live music to the fresh veggies, herbs, cheeses, breads and flowers, the Market is a feast for all the senses. Yep, there's just something for everyone around Braodway in Saratoga Springs!

Tips for Families

Parking is a bit of a challenge these days with a lot of construction right on Broadway. Try the new lot on Woodlawn and cut through near Putnam Market to reach Broadway. Take the little kids to G.Willikers and let the teens roam free-- it's safe!

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Grand Ole Opry House

2804 Opryland Dr., Nashville, Tennessee

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  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2011-08-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-10 17:31:44.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Southern Musical Charm

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Another stop on the cross country drive: Nashville, Tennessee! From the moment we pulled into town we were smiling! None of us are country music fans but you just get drawn into the warm vibe of this Southern city without even realizing it. Music surrounds you! We planned for a quick stop but it turned into a really fun and unexpectedly delightful day! We started at the Grande Ole Opry House where staff regaled us with stories of every star to have ever graced the stage. Carrie Underwood music was blasting and the guide was perhaps her biggest fan and told us personal stories of their interactions-- my kids were thrilled! From there we were directed to the Opryland Resort which completely blew my mind. From the moment we entered we were swept up in Southern Hospitality with every staff member stopping to tell us something to explore along the way to the glorious center of the resort. Wow. The interior is comprised of 9 acres of indoor gardens, cascading waterfalls and an indoor river, complete with a Delta flatboat. We decided to take the boat ride around the resort-- the largest I have ever seen. The glass atrium is truly a sight to behold. We enjoyed yummy southern food (my son developed a love affair with biscuits and gravy, oh my!) and shopped in clever boutiques for a while. Then it was on to RCA Studio B, the Country Music Hall of Fame (omg, my daughter went gaga over the 3,000 costumes!! and my son swooned over Elvis' solid gold Cadillac!) and the Music Row Walking Tour. Honestly, I never would have thought we would fall for Nashville so hard, but they got us at hello, southern style!

Tips for Families

Self park at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and take the shuttle to the hotel (the drivers we had were hysterical!!) where you can buy passes for a day-long experience that includes the Opry House, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the RCA Studio B and the Music Row walking tour. Check ahead online for some special deals, depending on the time you're going. It was really really hot when we were there-- be sure to keep the kids hydrated. Dining options abound at the Resort, and kids meals are fabulous and complete. There is a lot of walking, so prepare the kids with comfy shoes!

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The Alamo

300 Alamo Plz, San Antonio, Texas

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  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2011-04-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-10 16:53:01.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Remember the Alamo!

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I thought my kids might find this a little boring without knowing too much ahead of time about Texas history, but I was wrong. I realized pretty quickly that they were curious about this part of our country's history that really isn't discussed much in school. When we lived in California there was a focus on the California Missions in the social studies classes. Moving to New York the focus shifted to the Revolutionary War. Here we were in Texas where history classes are all about the Texas Revolution... and it's fascinating! We were there on a particularly hot day and it was easy to imagine the dust and sweat and fear of the brave people who were determined to fight for liberty in 1836. The self-guided audio tour was just like a great story being acted out and was captivating. My son was in awe of the frontiersmen who came to help the battle and my daughters were touched by the stories of the 18 women and children that survived the Battle of the Alamo. Most of them were found in the church after the battle. It's all an important part of the making of this country and one that isn't really addressed outside of Texas. After this trip my son read every book on Texas that he could find!

Tips for Families

Stop by the Gift Center for The Alamo Young Courier Program, an educational activity booklet geared towards children 5 to 10 years old. Inside the booklet are 20 pages of fun and educational activities. You will find everything from a crossword puzzle to a math worksheet in which you must calculate how many shots a soldier can shoot with his musket. Included in the price is the Alamo Young Courier Badge, which my son is really proud to talk about with anyone who has an hour or two to Remember the Alamo!

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Nasa - Johnson Space Center

2101 NASA Parkway, Houston, Texas

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  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2011-04-01 | Submitted: 2013-03-10 15:54:23.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

One Giant Step

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It took forever to get to, a long wait in line for tickets, and it closed early the day we went, but when we left there were three happy kids ready to delve into science more seriously in the hope of someday working for NASA. If your kids have any spark of interest in science, technology, or space, this is a must see! From the moment my kids saw the sign on the Interstate for the exit to the Space Center, they were on the edge of their seats. There are so many hands on experiences for them to try which appealed to their different interests. My son enjoyed the simulators, trying to make himself ill with the flips and twists and gravity defying activities, he was a happy astronaut. My middle child has a passion for geology and was enthralled by the moon rocks and other elements from space that she could see up close, cut open and under intense magnification. My oldest is the scientist, the analyst, who was thrilled by the labs with real NASA scientists at work on new discoveries and theories. The films are magnificent as was the tour through the space shuttle deconstruction and the international space station model-- the behind-the-scenes journey through NASA's Johnson Space Center also took us to the historic Apollo Mission Control Center. We left frustrated that we didn't have more time to spend there. Every room was more exciting than the one before-- a really great destination for the entire family!

Tips for Families

Really do your research ahead of time-- the Space Center is constantly evolving and there are new exhibits and experiences that you can pre-purchase tickets for online, which will really save you time. Also, be aware that some of the activities have height, weight and age requirements. This is best to know ahead of time to avoid disappointment. If you have older children there are many special opportunities available to them and you may want a plan in place of fun stuff for the younger ones to do so they won't be upset. Again, PLAN AHEAD! Some attractions require reservations of time slots. The web site is very current and useful. Also, plan on being there right when it opens-- you'll want to spend the entire day there!

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