28
Jul 10

Guest Post: Exploring More National Parks with “Pitstops for Kids”

Our friend Amy Whitley at Pitstops for Kids has been on whirlwind, multi-state family road trip this summer. Her “Pit Stop A Day” series follows her 22-day “mega” road trip, touring four national parks, six family-friendly resorts, eight states. Luckily for the rest of us, we can go along for the ride (without all the potty stops) and take advantage of her many tips and recommendations when planning more modest itineraries. Visit her site to read the whole series and browse her reviews and recommendations for kid-friendly pitstops across the US.

Easy Hikes and Great Views at Arches National Park

UTAH — Moab is home to both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, which showcase some of the most stunning geological formations we’ve ever seen! Arches in particular is breathtaking, and offers many easy hikes and vista points for kids to explore. (General Tip: whatever your activity, get up and go early; later in the day, temperatures can be unbearable in summer.) Read the full story on Pitstops for Kids.

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Ancient Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park

COLORADO — With so much to see, families can easily plan to spend 2-3 days exploring this park! Mesa Verde is home to more than 600 ancient cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Kids can hike right down to the ruins (some self-guided, some in group tours) and walk through ancient doorways, climb wooden ladders, and see how Mesa Verde’s first inhabitants lived firsthand. (General Tip: don’t let the high desert landscape fool you; Mesa Verde is at high elevation. Be sure to bring jackets and watch for altitude sickness when spending the day out in the elements.) Read the full story on Pitstops for Kids.

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Hiking at Zion National Park

UTAH — The Emerald Pools is a great hike for kids because you can adjust it to your needs/abilities. There are three pools on the trail: the lower pool is only .6 mile from the trailhead (although it does climb quite a bit), or the second pool is only 1 mile. From either of these, ambitious families can continue to the third pool (another .5 mile) or return. When we visited in July, the pools weren’t much to look at, but the dripping water from the overhangs of rock were very impressive (and a great way to cool off!).Weeping Rock is another easy hike for kids. This trail is short (.4 mile) but steep, and very beautiful. Definitely worth a stop! Read the full story on Pitstops for Kids.

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24
Apr 10

Planning for summer travel? Mom Maps features great travel blogs.

Planning a stay-cation or taking it on the road? Summer is just around the corner and Mom Maps has teamed up with Family Travel Forum and some great bloggers to share hundreds of tips and reviews to jumpstart your vacation/stay-cation plans.

I have always loved to travel. Maybe it is all those road trips I took as a kid, but I just can’t wait to go off and explore. My travels have taken me to Borneo, Amazon, Japan, Indonesia, Belize, and all over Europe and the US. The places I have visited have given me a new appreciation for the world outside my door. Now that I have two small children, my travels have taken me to less exotic locations but have presented some of the most exciting travel challenges yet:

* How to find the nearest bathroom in the moments before the accident happens!
* Getting to the nearest kid friendly restaurant or coffee shop before the kids get too hungry and pandemonium breaks out!
* Finding the nearest park or playground – one with working swings – before the wiggles completely take over!

I began to think about how useful it would be to have some spots mapped out on my phone so I could find them when I am out and about. While building Mom Maps, I discovered a vibrant community of family travelers who have traveled the road less traveled with children and who have lived to blog about it. These bloggers all are adventurous parents with invaluable advice on how to get around with kids and find the best places to take kids along with tips for each visit. Here are some some of my favorites:

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Family Travel Forum

Family Travel Forum has served a global network of travelers with children since 1996. FTF brings print and online publications, trip-planning consultation and a vast library of destination research together for some of the most extensive coverage of family friendly destinations around the world. Their site contains expert and family-written stories, including first-hand reviews of tropical and ski resorts, reunion destinations, attractions, holiday weekends, family festivals, cruises, and all kinds of vacation ideas. FTF expertise has been recognized with several National Parenting Center Seals of Approval and ‘Best of the Web’ awards from both Forbes and Condé Nast Traveler magazines, as well as by CNN, ABC, Time, USA Today, Wall St. Journal, and many others.

Mom Maps is proud to announce that we now provide mobile access to Family Travel Forums incredible library of kid friendly activities! For the summer travel season, we logged over 500 locations with reviews from FTF in Mom Maps, so you can get the best access to family travel content from your iPhone. A full list of locations world wide – well over a thousand of them – will be on Mom Maps soon. Some of our favorite Family Travel Forum favorites are listed below:

Seattle’s REI: “Kids climbing the walls? Scale a 65’ wall at REI on Yale Ave in Seattle.”
Orlando’s Dinosaur World “Little ones will feel like they’re walking through a prehistoric picture book at Orlando’s Dinosaur World.”
Las Vegas’ Liberace Museum “Take in the jeweled costumes of “Mr. Showmanship” himself at the Liberace Museum.”
Maui’s Surfing Goat Dairy “Eat cheese on Haleakala & feed the goats that made it possible.”
Monterey’s Seal Rock Center “Picnic with seals and otters at the Seal Rock Picnic Center.”

Kids play spots for San Francisco

Kids play spots for San Francisco

Kelly Tirman

Kelly Tirman is a San Francisco mom who is fond of eco friendly goods, public libraries and the new playgrounds in Mission district. Here’s some our favorite posts for San Francisco:

Yoga Tree ” … official volunteer baby holders at every class to comfort any upset babies so mommies can easily focus on their practice…”
Bi-right Creamery “The best creamery in San Francisco partly due to their use of organic and local ingredients”
Giorgio’s “…They also provide balls of pizza dough for the kids to play with which helps keeps the kids entertained.”

Pit Stops for Kids Pit Stops for Kids

Amy Whitely has amassed an amazing array of kid friendly attractions along most major highways, hotels, and airports. And if you’ve heard, “Are we there yet?!”, you need Pit Stops for Kids! At Pitstops, you’ll find real parent reviews on all the road-side attractions, restaurants, motels, parks, and airport playspaces you’ll need along the way during your family vacation. Here are some of my favorite kid friendly locations from Pit Stops for kids on the Oregon Coast:

Olympic Game Farm “The Olympic Game Farm is a great place to get face-to-face with a wide range of exotic animals…”
Tillamook Cheese Factory “You can take a self-guided tour of the production floor (viewed from above), then sample all the cheese you want (yes you read that right!)”
Umpqua Discovery Center “As you enter the exhibits, you hear the sounds of the river rushing and feel nature surround you”

See Jane Fly

See Jane Fly

See Jane Fly is a team of time-starved moms, travel junkies, twenty-something trendsetters, on-the-go executives, brides-to-be and seasoned solo travelers are devoted to simplifying travel for women everywhere. They have set out to become the concierge I always dreamed of, and they have gathered a network of travel experts and savvy insiders to help when it is most needed. They then serve up the information in a fresh, bite-size, easy-to-access format – giving readers exactly what they need, when they need it. Perfect for Mom Maps and the iPhone. See Jane Fly features kid friendly locations in Chicago, San Francsico, San Diego, Los Angeles and beyond. Here’s some of our favorite kid friendly travel recommendations from See Jane Fly for Los Angeles & Santa Monica:

Santa Monica Surf School “Get in the curl, and go surfing with these laid-back experts…”
Scribble Press “Great activities abound–make books, note cards, holiday cards and gifts with your kid’s art..”
Douglas Park “…duck ponds loaded with quackers who like to be fed and an amazing wet area with sprinklers..”

TravelMamas Travel Mamas

Colleen Lanin, the creator, is the head Travel Mama. She got her start by writing for Babytalk and San Diego Family, and became a regular contributor to 101 Things to do in San Diego. Colleen’s travels vary from road trips, cruises, family visits, and tropical vacations to foreign tours, amusement park adventures, and more. Her site not only presents great family travel destinations, but it contains packing lists and invaluable travel tips like travel/parenting articles, resources, and websites. Here is a couple of Colleen’s favorite places to go in San Diego.

San Diego Zoo “This zoo is huge … so I provide the location of each recommended attraction in parentheses…”
San Diego’s Birch Aquarium “The aquarium offers a wonderful, low-key alternative to its famous competitor…”

Alisa ShtombergAlisa Shtromberg

I met Alisa through her use of Mom Maps. Alisa hails from the southwest and she blogs about her adventures in Santa Fe and Albuquerque with her son. Some of our favorite kid friendly travel recommendations for Albuquerque.
Rio Grande Zoo “a little oasis in the middle of the desert” (w/ice cream!)
Explore “Here kids can touch, play, and even try to break with just about every exhibit which include toys and science exhibits…”
Slate Street Cafe “My husband and I just discovered this little piece of heaven…”

Kid food that adults will love

Kid food that adults will love

A Little Yumminess

Little Yumminess is written by two moms with a passion for cooking and eating & sharing fun food experiences with their kids in San Francisco. Some of their favorite kid-friendly dining picks:

Let’s Be Frank (Marina): “We love their organic, grass-fed beef dogs! They make us (and our kids) want to do the hot dog dance!”

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream (Mission): “An ever-changing menu of flavors appealing to both ice cream traditionalists (mint chip) and the more adventurous (Pistachio-Bacon!).”

Little Star Pizza (Nopa, Mission): “You can’t go wrong with the daily special which invariably features the tastiest of local, seasonal ingredients.”

Keeps Me SmilingKeeps Me Smiling

Lorraine Akemann is a fellow iPhone developer who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has two children about the same age as my kids and finds great local outdoor activities. She finds hikes and outdoor activities perfectly suited for both adults and young children. Here’s some of our favorites from Hawaii:

Hanauma Bay: “Famous snorkeling spot on Oahu. Amazingly beautiful but also very crowded…”
Kailua Beach Park: “Kids enjoyed mini body surfing in the little waves, and the white sandy beach…”

Mom Maps’ growing database of kid-friendly locations includes favorite places for playing, learning and dining from these and other bloggers as well as parents who enjoy sharing tips and recommendations with other parents. We’ve mapped 19,000+ kid spots so far — and we’re adding many more places and reviews every day. Download our free iPhone app to take Mom Maps on the go with you or visit our website to browse and plan your itinerary ahead of time.

During the week of April 26 we’re giving away a $50 Amazon gift card. To enter, just add a review some of your favorite kid friendly places.