Fun Things to Do in DC for School-age Kids

Things to do in DC with kids

Finding family friendly things to do in DC with kids is easy. But choosing what your family can fit into your schedule and limited vacation time is extremely hard. We have been to Washington DC with kids a few years ago and we knew that we want to go back there again. Even with a proper planning on finding things to do with kids on our last trip, we still have a long list of things we haven’t done in DC.

So now, I’m back at it again, searching, reading, listing and planning our next family vacation to Washington DC. This time, the kids are older. They are in elementary school and they have learned a lot more about US history and all other things kids learn in school. So our list has changed from things that will entertain toddler and young kids to things that will interest tweens and school-age children. Here are our list of top things to do in DC for school-age kids.

The Library of Congress

Not that Library of Congress is not worthy of a visit if it doesn’t have the title of the world’s largest library. But with a parent of kid who obsesses with anything that holds the world title, we couldn’t miss out on visiting the world’s largest collection of knowledge. With various activities suitable for families and kids like a free guided tour of the Thomas Jefferson Building or an interactive self-guided Passport of Knowledge, who said visiting library has to be boring.

Tour of the Capitol

Kids will love to see how their government works if we are lucky and the Congress is in session. Last visit to DC, we missed our tour by 5 minutes because we miscalculated on how long it would take to go through the security check. And to make matter worse, we couldn’t get the stand by tickets because there was a false fire alarm that day. But this time, we hope we could finally get to tour the Capitol.

Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air & Space Museum

We have been to the National Air and Space Museum at the National Mall location. It was huge and kids enjoyed every minute of it. We spent almost a couple hours there touring and checking out almost every exhibits. So this visting to DC with kids, we would love to change it up and check out the biggest aircrafts and space object especially the Discovery Space Shuttle. With the location in Chantilly, the visit to Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air & Space Museum will be a bit drive so we will probably plan to explore things outside DC that day.

International Spy Museum

With so any free museums to visit in Washington DC, it might seem odd that we will want to shell out admission fee to another museum. But as we mention, the kids are older and their interests have changed. The Spy Museum will be a big hit not only for them but for us as well. Luckily, we found a deal online from GoldStar so that will help on our budget.

National Building Museum

Ok, we haven’t heard about this museum before until we read the post from local blogger in DC. And after checking out the website for more information, we know this will be another great non-traditional museum that kids will enjoy. There are free tours for historic building tour and family-friendly wonderous pension building tour. We also can’t wait to check out the family tool kit to help us learn and explore the museum in a more fun way.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Now that kids are older and know that value of money, what could be more exciting than seeing the money being printed. To tour BEP, if you go during the peak season like us, you will need to get free ticket at the Visitor Center or via your congressional office. The free 40-minute experience includes an introductory film and gallery tour of the production process.  The visitor center includes exhibits and currency products for sale.

United State Holocaust Memorial Museum

We don’t know what to expect but the kids have been learning about war history and Miss J has been reading Ann Frank book since 4th grade. So she knows that this is one museum she would like to visit. After checking out the museum website, there are several good information on how to visit the museum with kids. Make sure to pick up or download family guide before you go.

National Parks in DC

We bought National Park passport book for our kids a few years ago but after our first trip to Washington DC. So this revisit trip is a great opportunity for us to collect passport cancellation stamp from various national parks in Washington DC. At least we know we will visit The White House, Vietnam Veteran Memorial, Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and many more. We might not be able to get all the stamps but we will try to visit the ones that are close to each other.

So that’s it. Our list of things to do with kids in DC for our 4 days visit. As usual, we will use this as a guide but will also play it by ears and be flexible on the program.

Check out our list of things to do in DC with young kids from our previous visit here.

 

Tips for Planning Family Ski Trip for First-Timers

Family-Ski-Trip-Planning

As a family who lives in the South where snow is a thing of special treat, planning a ski trip with kids can be very challenging and costly. And like many families who have never skied before the task of preparing all the necessary equipments and gears can be daunting. So I would like to share with you our own experience when we prepared for our first ever ski trip a couple years ago. I still feel like newbie in this ski thing. Planning a successful family ski vacation is easier with these tips for planning family ski trip from various family travel bloggers.

Ski is an expensive activity. You probably know that. Just to get ourselves ready for a day on the slope we have to purchase several clothing to make sure that we won’t freeze to death. However, there are ways to help minimize the cost by shopping smarter and know what to splurge and what to skim. If this is your first time planning a family ski trip and don’t yet know whether your family will like it, you don’t have to go overboard and purchase $300 snow pant. Read on for more tips on planning and saving on family ski vacation.

Things to Prepare for Family Ski Trip

 

Ski Clothing

 

Family Ski Trip Planning: Ski Clothing

Base Layer

To help combat the cold and prevent us from loosing the heat, a shirt made from quick-drying fabric like a synthetic blend of wool, which wicks moisture away from skin, is an essential base layer. We picked up a few t-shirt at Target for less than $20 each. For a more popular brand, you can spend a bit more with Under Armour shirt.

Mid Layer

We already have fleece sweater so fortunately we don’t have to shell out on this layer. Keep an eye out for winter clearance sale from Old Navy or sporting store like REI to score deep discount fleece sweater or jacket. During the sale, I was able to score $7 fleece sweater.

Ski Jacket

This is probably the most expensive investment we have to do. It’s highly recommended that we look for waterproof jacket. The waterproof feature drives up the price and selections. Luckily, when I went shopping at REI, we snatched a Burton Jacket for Mr. Z. Be on the look out for end of season sale at the ski store as well. Typically, they will have a sale pre-season around September or October to clear out last season inventory. It’s a great time to shop for great jacket. This is the one item that I think you should invest on.

Snow Pants

For Miss J and Mr. Z, I opted for the bib options for them. We picked one up for each of them last year from Walmart. I know.. I don’t even know if there is a brand on this but for a once a year activity, I think it will work out. We might invest in better pants or bib later if they decide they want to go skiing more often. For now, every penny counts! For me, I was able to check out the used sporting store in our area (similar to Play Again Sport) and picked up a nice snow pants for under $30.

Ski Gloves or Mittens

We need waterproof and breathable gloves. Our normal winter gloves that we use won’t do. Luckily, we found a cheap option from warehouse club for less than $15 a pair. Our gloves have a little pouch that you can store the handwarmer.

Socks

This is another key for keeping yourself as comfortable as you can because you will need all your focus on skiing downhill. Good socks will keep your feet warm even on the cold day. Looks for wool socks and preferably ski socks.

Balaclava or Neck gaiters

Balac what??? That’s my first response. But talking to my friend who has been going skiing every year, this is one piece of clothing that he highly recommended. It will help prevent your face from freezing on your way downhill. Typical scarf will only get in a way and get tangled after a run.

Ski Goggles

This is a must in my book because it will not only protect your eyes from the Sun but also the wind. The ski goggle prices are varied based on the manufacturing and feature. But if this is your first time, you can pick up an entry level ski goggle from the Academy Sport store for under $20 per pair. For kids who wear glasses, you can also look for the ski goggle that goes over the glass. Ask for OTG goggle.

Ski Helmet

We didn’t purchase the ski helmet during our first trip but we rent it from the ski shop. It’s a must in my opinion. You don’t know what can happen and you want to protect your head at all cost. Once we realized that our family love to go skiing and it’s something we will do it on an annual basis, we decided to invest in a helmet for each kid. For way to save, check out the clearance section of the sporting store like REI to see last season helmet. We were able to pick up a ski helmet for Miss J for under $30. So worth it!

Helmet Cover (optional)

We didn’t have the helmet cover yet but it’s something we are thinking about buying. It’s not only a fun way to display their helmet but it’s a great way for us to help identify our kids can they ski down the slope.

Accommodations

 

Family Ski Trip Planning- Accommodations

Choosing where to stay during your ski trip can help ease the hassle in the morning rush to get to the slope. Hotels or condos closer to the ski slope and within ski village allows the morning routine to be less work.

Also look for condo type accommodation will provide more space for the whole family and other features like dining room and kitchen will come in handy to help save the cost of eating out during family ski vacation.

Many ski resorts provide Kids Ski Free when families book accommodation with a resort. This can help save a lot especially if your kids are older than 6 years old (since most ski resorts already have a program for kids under 6 ski free).

Another way to help save on your family ski trip is to plan a vacation with another family and share the accommodation. Many ski resorts also offer cabin style accommodation that can fit a large group. By sharing with another family, you can save on the cost and have instant play pals for your children.

Ski Equipment Rentals

 

Family Ski Trip Planning- Ski Rental

To rent or to buy, it’s never a question for us during our first ski trip. Ski equipment is ridiculously expensive. So for a first timer, it makes more sense to just rent the ski equipment. Even if you plan to ski for a few times a year, the cost is still cheaper. Unless of course, your kid plans to join the ski team.

Renting ski equipment is something you can plan in advance rather than wait until the day you want to ski. By arriving early to the ski resort or check out information in advance, you can most likely rent the ski equipment the night before to avoid the long line and rush. Most ski resorts will allow late night pick up of your ski rental equipment as well as lift ticket purchase for the next morning.

Another option for ski rental is to check out local ski shop. Most will have cheaper rate than the ski resort and less crowd. However, it will involve having to transport all the ski equipment on your own. So if you don’t have a car, it might be a bit difficult. Check with local shop if they offer the service the deliver your ski rental equipment.

Ski or Snowboard Lessons

 

Family Ski Trip Planning- Ski Lessons

For a first timer to family ski trip, ski or snowboard lesson is a must for everyone. I know that the price tag is not something we like to see. But think about the investment you have put into planning a family ski trip with all the hotel, flight, lift ticket, ski rental and ski clothes. You wouldn’t want to ruin the whole vacation by not having fun, right? Having a lesson will provide a good foundation for kids and adults to be able to eventually enjoy the slope on their own.

I would recommend for at least a full day lesson for first timer. It will help you truly learn how to put the ski on, walk on the ski, stop and probably turn as well. And if you are a quick learner, you might even get to go on the lift and take on a few run on the green. It’s much better to learn to get on and off the chair lift with an instructor. I can tell you  that!

For a way to save on ski lesson, check out also family private lesson. With the whole family learning together, it might be cheaper than putting everyone on a different group lesson and you will get more personalized lesson.

My friend, Jen @ TwoKidsandAMap, has a great post laying it out for whether you should take ski or snowboard lesson.

 

On the Mountain Tips

 

Prepare for Altitude Sickness

Family Ski Trip Planning-5

If you travel to the ski resort, chances are you will be traveling to a much higher altitude than your home base so one of the main thing to be aware of is Altitude sickness is real and important.

What is altitude sickness (also known as acute mountain sickness)? The altitude sickness is the effect of high altitude (mostly occur at 8,000 ft or higher) on human body. Symptoms often manifest themselves six to ten hours after ascent and generally subside in one to two days, but they occasionally develop into the more serious conditions. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness, and sleep disturbance.

In order to help avoiding altitude sickness, here are some tips to avoid altitude sickness.

  • Drink plenty of water one week before your trip.
  • If possible, arrive at the base city to help acclimate your body. For a ski trip to the Colorado mountain, a night stay in Denver will help adjust your body. Denver is already at 5,000 ft after all.
  • Take it easy on the first day. I know you will want to go up the top of the mountain and make use of your time but it will be wise to just take it easy on the first day. Enjoy other activities available at the ski resort.
  • Limit the alcohol intake.
  • Drink plenty of water during your time at the high altitude.

For more tips, check out expert Colorado blogger, Kara @ TheVacationGals for tips to avoid altitude sickness on the mountains.

Early Bird Gets the Worms

Family Ski Trip Planning-8

I admit that we are a lazy vacationer type. I love to sleep and there are more than one occasion that we forego one of to-do on our list during our vacation for a bit more sleep. But when planning family ski vacation, we typically run into the busy holiday weekend as that is the only time we can have decent amount of vacation days without taking the kids out from school. With that limitation, it also means all other families are there at the same time. So waking up early and get to the slope as soon as you can is the one thing that regardless of how much you want to cuddle under that warm blanket you must get up.

Some ski resorts will let you start earlier than published lift time if you have already purchased a ticket. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to be one of the first in line to get on the slope. Waiting till late morning can mean a line mimic one from Disney’s theme park on the busy holiday weekend.

Activities beyond Ski & Snowboard

Family Ski Trip Planning-3

There are other winter activities available in most ski resorts that will keep even the most timid skiers happy. When planning a family ski trip, don’t forget to check out other family-friendly activities available at your ski resort like Kidtopia or snowtubing at Keystone resort.

Plan a day to enjoy what the ski resort has to offer and also give your body a chance to rest like an outdoor hot tub to relax your body with a great mountain view.

Planning Tips from Family Travel Bloggers

The beauty of travel community is the vast amount of resources and knowledge we learn and share with each other. These are just some of the tips I found from our family travel experts.

 

Do you have other tips to share? Please feel free to leave a comment.

 

This post is also part of Travel Tips Tuesday hosting by Walking on Travel and Suitcases and Sippy Cups. Check out other travel tips from other bloggers.

Hong Kong With Kids: Family Guide to Things to Do with Kids in Hong Kong

For many families who live in Asia, Hong Kong is one of the top destination when thinking about family vacation or even just shopping trip. With the easy access from various flights from many major cities in Asia, visiting Hong Kong is easy and convenient. Plus with first class hotels, efficient public transportation, wide range of activities and sleepless shopping areas, Hong Kong is a great destination for family vacation.

As we prepare our summer trip this year to visit Thailand, I stalked the popular low-cost airline, AirAsia, for any promotion I can find from Thailand. And my effort didn’t go in vain, I scored a great airfare ticket for less than $60 RT from Thailand to Macau. Now, that we had tickets in hand, it’s time to plan for fun things to do with kids in Hong Kong.

Things to Do in Hong Kong with Kids

This list is created selfishly for our family so you might not see many popular attractions that you have read from Lonely Planet or other guide book. One of the reason is this is not our first trip to Hong Kong. Actually, our first trip to Hong Kong was the starting point of me creating this blog. So our itinerary might not be typical. But I will add other recommendation at the end of this post.

Hong Kong Disneyland

One of the most popular attraction in Hong Kong for family is Hong Kong Disneyland. Being a Florida resident for over 10 years and even after we moved to Atlanta we still continue to visit Walt Disney World on a yearly basis, it doesn’t seem to make sense to visit Disneyland in Hong Kong, does it? I know the park might not be the same scale but I would love to experience Disneyland in other locations. I would love to see how Disney creates magical memories for different cultures and couldn’t wait to try Chinese food Disney style.

Ngong Ping 360

A fun way to enjoy breathtaking view of Hong Kong and Kowloon area from the bird’s eye view angle in the enclosed glass cable car. We did it on our last trip but the kids were too young to remember and we think they will really enjoy the opportunity again. For thrill seeker, you can also opt for the glass bottom car to add to the experience. It will cost more but the wait will be shorter as well.

Peak Tram

Having a child who loves to ride any train and his eyes lighted up whenever he sees train, I knew that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Victoria peak on the Peak Tram. Located at at Central’s Garden Road St Joseph Building, it’s easily accessible from Central’s Star Ferry Pier, take bus 15C; or from Central’s Admiralty Station Exit B, Lippo Centre Bus Terminus and take bus 12S; or if you like to walk, you can exit Central’s MTR Station from Exit J2, walk along Garden Road which is in between The Bank of China building and The Cheung Kong Centre. The walk to the tram station only takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Ding Ding Tram

As I move down the list of things to do in Hong Kong, I realized that it seems we have some obsession with transportation. I won’t deny it. We love to move around in the city using public transportation or anything that moves. So after reading about the Hong Kong tram or Ding Ding tram as local called it, I know I will have to add that to our to-do list. Riding local tram seems like a great way to experience Hong Kong in a more unique way and provide us a chance to explore into the area that most tourists won’t go. Plus with a low cost, it’s a win in our book.

Symphony of Lights @ Avenue of Stars

The Avenue of Stars is the equivalent of Hong Kong owned version of Hollywood boulevard where it honors celebrities of Hong Kong film industry. It’s located along the waterfront of the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui (on the Kowloon side). It’s also a perfect location to walk at night and catch the Symphony of Lights show. This synchronized light and laser multimedia show runs everyday at 8PM for 10 minutes.

Victoria Harbor with Star Ferry Ride

A cheap but fun way to see Hong Kong in a more unique way is to take the Star Ferry ride across the Victoria Harbour. If we time it right, we might be able to catch the Symphony of Lights during the ride. I told you this trip will be all about every modes of transportation in Hong Kong. Another option is to ride on the Duk Ling – the authentic Chinese junk boat. The cost will be higher but for less than $15 I think it is worth the experience.

Lady Night Market

Our experience in Hong Kong will not be completed if we don’t visit at least one of many popular markets in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is the shopping capital in Asia. Many of my friends and families go there just to shop. So even if we don’t want to spend money buying toys or souvenir, it is still a great experience to walk along the bustling market at night.

So here is our short list of things we plan to do in Hong Kong with our kids. There are many other fun attractions and family-friendly things to do in Hong Kong that you might want to check out. I found that the Hong Kong Tourism Board website – Discover Hong Kong has a great information, well designed and easy to navigate.

 

Source: Stuck in Customs, Cafetricot, allena29, Trenchfoot, Francisco Diez, ManilaRyce

Green Family Travel: How to Have Sustainable Ecofriendly Family Trip

In honor of the Earth Day this year, I have been thinking about ways family travel can help reduce the impact from our travel. In the past, going green in your travels meant extremely expensive hotels and often lower quality products. Today, that’s just not the case.

In numerous studies, travelers have responded that when given the choice they’d take a sustainable hotel or plane ride over one that wasn’t if they had the choice.

Because demand has been so high, sustainable travel as an industry has really taken off. Today, you can find sustainable hotels all throughout the price spectrum, including guesthouses and hotels that are perfect for the whole family. Our recent visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge showed how much thought and actions the resort has done to help promote sustainable environment.

Planning for Eco-Friendly Travel

Traveling with the whole family requires a lot more planning than traveling solo.

If you were traveling solo, it’s not all that difficult to just plan one city at a time. All you need to do is find an eco-friendly hotel in the next city and you’re off.

When you’re with a big family, however, you’ll probably want to plan your whole trip before you leave. This allows you to ensure you have a sustainable hotel and sustainable activities planned throughout the whole trip.

Teaching Your Kids about Sustainability

One of the best things about eco-friendly travel is that it gives you the perfect experiential opportunity to teach your kids about sustainability.

Back home, eco-friendliness can be just a concept to kids. They haven’t seen the impact of environmentalism first hand, nor have they seen the difference between being sustainable and unsustainable.

While traveling, however, kids can get a very different perspective. They get to see a very different culture and can often see the costs of unsustainability first hand, depending on what countries you visit.

This can be a perfect time to teach them about helping their planet and being sustainable in general.

Planning Eco-Friendly Activities for the Whole Family

The best way to plan eco-friendly activities for the whole family is to involve your kids in the decision process.

Instead of making the decision yourself, ask your kids: Would they like to ride elephants? Learn to scuba dive or snorkel? Would they like to see monkeys or go on a safari?

Sometimes kids will be naturally excited about certain prospects and sometimes they’ll be just terrified. The only way you’ll know for sure is to make sure you get their input before planning.

If you’ve never taken your kids hiking or camping before, this could be the perfect opportunity to try.

Going on an eco-friendly family trip can be the perfect time to educate your kids on sustainability. It can be an incredible bonding experience for the whole family and it can be great fun for everyone involved.

What other ways you have done to create sustainable family vacation?

My Dream Vacation for Less: Spring Family Vacation at Breckenridge

Family Ski Vacation in Breckenridge

As many part of the country are still battling the cold and snow, we at the Q Family already are dreaming about our next adventure in Spring and Summer. Our recently family ski trip to Keystone resort put the Colorado mountain resorts on the map for us and Breckenridge is one that we want to visit on our next family vacation.

It’s without a doubt that Breckenridge is well known for winter sport and ski family vacation that comes with quite a price tag for family who looks to travel on a budget. However, there are many ways to enjoy great family spring vacation for less. As we are dreaming about our next spring adventure, we would like to share with you how we plan our next family vacation for less!

Home Away from Home

Home Vacation Rental

When travel with kids, accommodation is a big factor in make or break your dream vacation. Choosing the right type of accommodation for your family is crucial part of travel planning.

We always look for vacation home rental as our first option. Most home rental provides extra room for family so we are not on top of each other. The homey atmosphere provides kids (and adults) a more relaxing environment after a long day of activities or fun in town.

Breckenridge has a lot of lodging types to choose from. With a quick search on Homeaway for Breckenridge, we know we will have no problem finding the right place to stay for our family.

Friends Make Travel more Fun

Another way to help save on your next family trip is to make it a group affair! We recently took a quick long weekend getaway during the holiday break with a group of friends who also have kids that are in the same age range as our kids. The cost of home rental is considerably lower than renting traditional hotel room in the same area.

At dinner time, we enjoyed our dinner as each of the family showcase their favorite dish. Kids had a blast because they had friend to play with. So we know that if possible our next spring vacation, we would love to go with our friends again.

Feast fits for the King

Keystone River Run Village Room Kitchen

Food is a big part of our life and we wouldn’t have enjoyed much of our vacation if food is blah.. So to have our own full kitchen during our vacation is a big plus and one that we always love!

Cooking during vacation doesn’t have to be painful or too much work. We plan simple family favorite meal that everyone loves. The time to prepare and cook our meal is typically shorter than the time we wait at a restaurant. Plus kids can be kids and running around the house until the dinner is ready instead of having to sit quietly (most of the time) in a restaurant.

One Last Run on the Slope

Spring in Atlanta means warmer weather and short sleeve shirt. But in Breckenridge, it means discount rate from ski resort for the end of the season discount. The resort season doesn’t end until mid April so it’s a great chance to enjoy winter sport while the rest of the country flock to the warmer destinations.

Photo credits: Breckenridge

This post is sponsored post. Bought to you by: 

HomeAway offers the world’s largest selection of vacation home rentals that provide travelers with memorable vacation experiences and benefits, including more room to relax and added privacy, for less than the cost of traditional hotel accommodations.  Make memories where you stay, not just where you go.  HomeAway.com – let’s stay together.