25
Sep 14

Family Vacation on the Gulf Coast

Kelly Blumenthal is a long time Mom Mapper and an advocate for finding the best places for the family when traveling.   As both a parent and artist, she has made paintings for the Breast Cancer Auction – Komen Foundation. This past summer Kelly and her family visited the Gulf Coast region.   She has been kind enough to write a blog about this amazing place.

Families from the Mid-south flock to the cooler breezes of the Gulf Coast Region in the summertime. The refreshing salt air, leisurely pace, and family togetherness make a win-win for travelers.

From the Fort Morgan Peninsula to Pensacola, this region offers a variety of activities for serious beach goers to families who like experiential travel.

You can take excursions to beach trails in a variety of habitats, or enjoy touristy fun in Gulf Shores. My tween, teen, and techie husband enjoyed the mix of beach time and excursions. Whether we were searching for Ghost crabs at night, or using a fishing net to study the fish swimming under our feet, all provided hours of fun. Here are some of our favorite places to visit:

kids, travel, fun

Mobile Bay Ferry – Noted as “the Gulf-Coast’s most scenic drive”:   Ferries run across Mobile Bay connecting the Fort Morgan Peninsula and Dauphine Island. The trip is about 40 minutes. The ferry is great for bird watching and dolphin spotting.

 

Fort Morgan, Alabama:  If you are history buffs or have children that enjoy studying the American Civil War, this is a must see. Located on the tip of the Fort Morgan Peninsula, across from the ferry port. Fort Morgan is a historical settlement with original buildings. You can explore the large fortifications, bunkers, and tunnels.  They have an excellent gift shop and museum building on site, as well.

Fort Morgan

Fort Morgan

Dauphine Island, Estuarium at the Dauphine Island Sea Lab:   A research based museum featuring the unique wildlife of this estuary habitat.  Experience films, exhibits, and hands on stations with sea creatures. Complete the visit thru a salt marsh via a stroll on the boardwalk outside.

Lulu’s Restaurant at Homeport Marina, Gulf Shores:  Situated by a marina and is a complex with restaurants, live music, hula hoops, and balls in large sandy outdoor play area. It is also a farm to table restaurant, started by Lulu Buffet, the sister of musician Jimmy Buffet. There is the Mountain of Youth, a four level climbing extravaganza for kids. It spoke to their inner pirate.  You can even walk the plank, at the very top, if brave enough.

Gulf Coast Trapeze

Climbing structure

Gulf Shores Park:  Recommended as a must see by locals. This is a system of greenways connecting Orange Beach & Gulf Shores to the beautiful Gulf Shores Park. It is a wonderful trail system to bike ride as a family. Choose from 14 miles of paved paths in 6 different ecosystems.  We took the Rosemary Dune Trail which leads to a Butterfly Garden and Boulder Park, a climbing rock play area. The path is flanked by a pine forest. The trail passes through an alligator viewing swamp. We encountered vibrant dragon flies, a gopher tortoise, and  butterflies.

Gulf_Coast_Back_Country_Trail4

Gulf Coast Back Country Trail

Sea & Suds, Gulf Shore, AL:   A family tradition for many years. A cozy yet open eatery built over the water. Pure and simple, with friendly service. The kids will be entertained by walking on the giant decks that encapsulate the restaurant. Sit at the oyster bar and enjoy watching the oyster shucking, first hand.

Lillian’s Pan Pizza, Perdido Key, FL:  A pizza restaurant that serves a wide variety of delicious pizzas in addition to pastas, Italian specialities, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. Kids and adults will both be happy with the selections. An original restaurant enjoyed both by locals and tourists.

Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida: A FREE 350,000 SQ FT  museum of exhibit space. Visit this historical museum if you have time, or make it your number one priority. Spend a morning or afternoon here, exploring many facets of aviation history. There is also a space exhibit and a restaurant on premises if you need to refuel.

Most of all, make time to soak up the beach sand and waves.  On our last night, our family enjoyed studying the constellations. The stars shone bright, without the glare of city lights, and appeared limitless in their number and density.

 


10
Feb 11

5 Ways to Keep Your Kid Happy in the Car

Baby traveling in car seatIf your child enjoys riding in their car seat, count your blessings. Since the day we brought our son home from the hospital, he has screamed, cried and protested loudly to being strapped into his car seat and driven anywhere. After months of ear piercing arguments and a few weeks of downing anti anxiety pills, we decided to try out a few suggestions that friends insisted worked on their kids.

Movies

This has pretty much has kept me from checking into a hospital. After figuring out which DVD’s our son liked, we set up a DVD player on the headrest of the backseat. The first few times, he wiggled and yelled, but after a ride or two with this ultimate distraction, he started to actually enjoy himself. We recommend purchasing 5 or 6 DVD’s to rotate so your child doesn’t get bored and don’t forget to buy a DVD player with a remote or you’ll end up pulling a back muscle trying to reach the play button.

Mirrors

My son loves nothing more than to watch himself in the mirror, not to mention, if you hang it just right, they can see you too. This was helpful from the ages of 2 to 8 months and to this day he can’t pass by a mirror without smiling.

Talking Story Books

We have determined that our son despises his car seat for two reasons. 1) He hates being confined and 2) It’s lonely and boring staring at the back seat for more than 5 minutes. We found a few books that would actually read the story to him as he turned the pages and this really fascinated him and kept him occupied for hours on end.

Favorite Foods

This is a given, but vital! I wouldn’t dare put my child into his car seat without a handful of ritz crackers. Not only does this keep him busy, but it makes him happy as he rides around with mom.

Digital (and Ever Changing) Photo Frames

This may sound a little ritzy, but it is super cheap and my son loves watching pictures of himself and his family as we run errands. Like the DVD player, we hung the 8 X 10 frame, purchased at Wal-Mart for $40, loaded 200 pictures into the memory card and hit play. It keeps him company and has helped him recognize family members that he doesn’t see everyday.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she’s been researching both the highest paying jobs and the worst paid jobs on the market. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Photo Credit:

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Children_g112-Baby_Seat_p9671.html


07
Dec 10

Featured Mapper: Big Blue Trunk

So how did we find the more than 26,000 kid-friendly places mapped in our Mom Maps iPhone app? We’ve been building  a vibrant community of parent Mappers who love to share their favorite picks and places for family travel, outdoor and indoor play, learning places, family dining and more. We’d like to introduce you to Big Blue Trunk, a great new online community and resource for family travel.

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On Big Blue Trunk, you can find family travel articles with practical tips and expert advice on destinations ranging from estinations ranging from Carmel, Yosemite and Tahoe in Northern California to New York City and Hawaii. Big Blue Trunk also features reviews on hotels, restaurants, things to do and products.

We’re proud to team up with Big Blue Trunk to map some of their favorite kid-friendly destinations. So now you can take their family travel picks and recommendations “on the go” using the Mom Maps iPhone app (or browse kid-friendly places online at www.kidsplayguide.com.)

Follow Big Blue Trunk


15
Nov 10

Video: Featured Kid-Friendly Place, Hapuna Beach (Big Island, Hawaii)

Kids Play Guide Mapper Stacie shares this video from a recent trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. This is one of the best (and only) big sandy beaches on the island. It’s on the Kohala Coast which home to many resorts (Hapuna Beach adjacent to the Hapuna Prince and Mauna Kea Hotels). Hapuna Beach has lots of amenities: big parking lot, lifeguard on duty, bathrooms, picnic areas, grills, snack shack.  It’s a great place for boogie boarding, although (beware!) the conditions can be rough at times. Overall, a great place to spend the day with the family.


In addition to mapping some of her favorite kid-friendly places on the Mom Maps iPhone app and Kids Play Guide website, Stacie writes a blog called “A Little Yumminess“, which covers family recipes and kid-friendly food adventures in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. And… if you’re interested in kid-friendly food on the Big Island, click here to view her “Big Island Food Adventure” video post.

Looking for more kid-friendly fun from parks, to playgrounds, museums to indoor play places and restaurants? Click over to www.kidsplayguide.com and browse our growing list of more than 25,000 kid spots or take Mom Maps on the go with our iPhone app. It’s quick and easy to map and review your own favorites, too.


09
Nov 10

Featured Mom Mapper: Road Trips for Families

So how did we find the more than 24,000 kid-friendly places mapped in our Mom Maps iPhone app? We’ve been building  a vibrant community of parent Mappers who love to share their favorite picks and places for outdoor and indoor play, learning places, family dining and more. We’d like to introduce you to Road Trips for Families, and in particular, their “Feed Me” and “Geocaching” editor, Julie Henning. Julie is also the creator of the the very handy Milwaukee Love Kids and Madison Loves Kids iPhone apps.

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Road Trips for Families brings you travel information and advice from real families who love to hit the road every chance they get. It’s a great resource for planning your next family road trip because you’ll find expert itineraries, information on what’s along the way, gadgets — plus a whole lot more. Julie’s specialty is dining out with kids — and as a mother of three she can appreciate that this is no small task, especially when you’re on the road. You need convenience, clean bathrooms, and a place to burn off energy—not to mention prices that don’t break your travel budget on the first day. Julie loves to venture little off the beaten path to find and share unique, family-friendly restaurants that feed your appetite and your sense of adventure . She’s also a great resource for geocaching, “the nation’s high-tech treasure hunt”.

We’re proud to team up with Julie Henning and Road Trips for Families to map some of their favorite roadside attractions and kid-friendly destinations. So now you can take Road Trips for Families’ kid-friendly travel picks and recommendations “on the go” using the Mom Maps iPhone app (or browse online at www.kidsplayguide.com.)

Follow Julie and Road Trips for Families

  • www.roadtripsforfamilies.com
  • @RoadTripsEditor (Road Trips for Families on Twitter)
  • @roadtripsfeedme (Julie Henning on Twitter)
  • Facebook: Road Trips for Families
  • Find out more about Geocaching

03
Nov 10

Featured Mapper: Travel Mamas

So how did we find the more than 24,000 kid-friendly places mapped in our Mom Maps iPhone app? We’ve been building  a vibrant community of parent Mappers who love to share their favorite picks and places for outdoor and indoor play, learning places, family dining and more. We’d like to introduce you to Travel Mamas, a fantastic site for anyone who wants to travel with children…and stay sane!

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Since 2009, Travel Mamas has been offering insightful tips and resources for family travel written for parents, by parents: from packing lists, to air travel and road trip tips, to destination guides covering the globe, and lots, lots more. Colleen, the original Travel Mama, began this endeavor when she found herself looking for “tell-it-like-it-is advice from real moms” while planning her own family travels. Not finding the kind of content she was looking for, she created the Travel Mamas website.

We’re proud to team up with Travel Mamas to map some of their favorite kid-friendly places. So now you can take the Travel Mamas’ kid-friendly travel picks and recommendations “on the go” using the Mom Maps iPhone app (or browse online at www.kidsplayguide.com.)

Follow Travel Mamas


01
Nov 10

Featured Video: Video Postcard from San Francisco

We might be biased in our affection for San Francisco because Mom Maps happens to be based in the lovely City by the Bay, but it’s always fun to get a visitor’s perspective! This travel video postcard courtesy of Travel Bigo / Family Travel Forum will give  you a flavor of some not-to-be-missed sights in and around San Francisco that will appeal to the whole family

…. and while you’re visiting, make sure to grab the Mom Maps iPhone app and you can find lots more family fun places while you’re on the go from restaurants to playgrounds, museums and indoor fun, and access photos and reviews form other parents, too (or browse online at kidsplayguide.com).

Thanks again to the good folks at Travel Bigo / Family Travel Forum! We’re proud to team up to map thousands of Family Travel Forum’s favorite kid-friendly places and reviews so you can take their incredible library of family friendly travel content “on the go” using the Mom Maps iPhone app (or browse online at www.kidsplayguide.com.)

Family Travel Forum is a great first resource for planning your next family vacation:


25
Oct 10

Featured Video: Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, Louisville, KY

Taking a trip to Louisville? Julie, “Feed Me” editor of the family travel site Road Trips for Families and creator of the Kid-Friendly Madison iPhone app, recommends stopping by at Lynn’s Paradise cafe, which Julie describes as “a bit off the beaten track, but kid-friendly with some authentic food.” Sign us up!

Thanks again to Julie for her video pick. We’re proud to team up with moms and dads everywhere and family travel experts like Julie, to map and review thousands of kid-friendly places so you can find great places to play, learn and eat “on the go” using the Mom Maps iPhone app (or browse online at www.kidsplayguide.com.)

Follow Julie and Road Trips for Families:


18
Oct 10

Featured Video: Family Vacation in Portland, Oregon!

Our friends at Family Travel Forum / Travel Bigo have put together a great video which will give you a flavor for the incredible variety of family-friendly attractions and activities that await in Portland, OR. From fabulous eateries to the nearby natural splendor of the Oregon Coast and Columbia River Gorge, skiing Mount Hood and eclectic city sights. It’ll make you want to grab the family and jump on the next flight out.

Thanks again to Family Travel Forum/Travel Bigo! We’re proud to team up with Family Travel Forum to map thousands of their favorite kid-friendly places and reviews. So now you can take Family Travel Forum’s incredible library of family friendly travel content “on the go” using the Mom Maps iPhone app (or browse online at www.kidsplayguide.com.)

Have Kids, Still Travel” – Family Travel Forum is a great first resource for planning your next family vacation:


14
Oct 10

Featured Mapper: Family Travel Forum


So how did we find the more than 24,000 kid-friendly places mapped in our Mom Maps iPhone app? We’ve been building  a vibrant community of parent Mappers who love to share their favorite picks and places for outdoor and indoor play, learning places, family dining and more. We’d like to introduce you to Family Travel Forum, one of the most most  comprehensive guides to fun family vacations on the web.

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Family Travel Forum’s motto is: “have kids, still travel“. They feature thousands of expert and family-written articles with tips and real world advice about what to see and do, including content for specific ages (tiny travelers, kids 5-12, teens, etc). When you’re planning a trip with your family, this is a great first resource to check out. We love it because the information is written by families for families, so you know you’ll get some great tips and ideas.

We’re proud to team up with Family Travel Forum to map thousands of their favorite kid-friendly places and reviews. So now you can take Family Travel Forum’s incredible library of family friendly travel content “on the go” using the Mom Maps iPhone app (or browse online at www.kidsplayguide.com.)

Follow Family Travel Forum

  • http://www.familytravelforum.com/
  • @FamilyTravel4um (on twitter)
  • Facebook: Family Travel Forum