Twist Travel Magazine Issue #8

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editor's note Every season brings changes, whether it is throughout the calendar year or in our lives. We see it all the time, even here at Twist. As we say goodbye to a few good friends, we say hello to warmer temperatures, new flavor combinations and destinations that are inspiring us to get out and explore. Whether you love traveling with your kids or you just need a bit of a break with friends, this issue is packed with ideas from the best U.S. islands you might have missed, to the history that will sneak up on you in Baden-Baden, Germany. Morocco is all the rage this year and there is no reason for your family to be left behind. But when you just can't hit the road, don't stress. We are showing you how to bring in the colors and textiles of Portugal, to give your home a much needed facelift, even if it's just with a few new houseplants. We are excited to dive into several new sections this issue, including one headed up by the JetSisters, Angie and Rae, who are out to show that you can see the same destination, whether you are on a budget or want to travel a bit more luxe, but still see the world in style. Our Eco Hot List will keep you in the know where travel is impacting the world for good, along with what products you should pack up while you enjoy the ride. Now get ready, because we have a lot of ground to cover, and you will want to see it all.



Amy Whitley

Angie Orth

Cheryl San Emeterio

Claudia Laroye IG @amywhitleytravels IG @angieaway IG @cherylsanemeterio IG @thetravellingmom

Deb Thompson

Ethan Gelber

Genevieve Buckmiller

Jade Broadus IG @ debthmpsn IG @genevieve_maria IG @vagabond3

Jordana GagnonÂ

Kate Peers

Katja Gaskell IG @jordanagagnon IG @madabouttheboys IG @globetotting

Jody Halsted @Irelandfamilyvacations

Kelley Ferro

Kirsten Maxwell IG @kelleyferro IG @kidsareatrip

Leticia Barr IG @techsavvymama

Rachael Hutchings IG @lafujimama

Issue No. 8 Publisher: Walking On Media LLC

Rachel Orth

Robin Hutson

Tai Kojro-Badziak IG @raeaway IG @luxerecess IG @taifire

Editor-in-Chief: Keryn Means Contributing Editors: Claudia Laroye, Amy Whitley and Tawny Clark European Editor: Katja Gaskell Copy Editor: Laura McKeever Designers: Keryn Means and Kalmati Amjad Cover Photo: Keryn Means

Tamara Gruber

Tawny Clark IG @we3travel IG @captainandclark

Zoey Goto IG @zoeygotowriter

For editorial inquiries, please contact: Sales Offices: Washington, D.C.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

London, UK Vancouver, Canada For advertising inquiries, please contact: Please send all general questions and inquiries to: Find us on the web at COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Twist Travel Magazine is published by Walking On Media LLC ©2019 Walking On Media LLC No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission of the publisher. Digital issue may contain affiliate links. WWW.TWISTTRAVELMAG.COM


Table of Contents 5 | THE TWIST


Time to shed those layers and give your skincare routine a refresh, as well as a few other essentials.

Discover the hidden jungles of Belize, far from the sandy beaches and cayes gracing every postcard.



Curate your own cocktails at a summer gin party that will throw you back to the era of Gatsby.

A city that thrives on wellness, culture and natural beauty, Baden-Baden offers more than the spa life.



Orlando two ways: how to enjoy a Floridian vacation, whether you can splurge or are on a budget.

A beautiful blend of Middle Eastern and Spanish inspiration, Portuguese design is sure to inspire.



Summer is the ideal time for a road trip to Maine's largest city, bursting with culture and nature.

Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakesh stir excitement and possibility for travelers of all ages.



Meet the sister team behind this successful brand that celebrates both home and travel.

Forget the cookie cutter hotel...families are flocking to unique boutique hotels that cater to kids.



Island time! Venture beyond the tropics to discover relaxing island getaways right within the U.S.

It's time to embrace the luck of the Irish with a trip to the Emerald Isle filled with food, fun, and nature.


photo via Frogg/Twenty20


Sunshine, fresh berries, brilliant bouquets of flowers, and that treat we all love best: ice cream! Warm weather is here and with it comes a few new favorites for your wardrobe, a brush up on your skincare routine to combat those UVA and UVB rays, as well as some gin-infused cocktails you can make at home. The only question is, what will you try first?





BITE Toothpaste • $12 Ditch the plastic tubes for this eco-friendly natural toothpaste. Invented by a traveler who was tired of tossing plastic toothpaste tubes, these minty morsels were created to keep both your mouth and the planet fresh and clean.



Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum • $42 While we should always be wearing sunscreen, with spring in full bloom, the sun is gearing up to shine in full force. Protect your skin with this nonoily and moisturizing serum. As an added bonus, antioxidants E and B5 optimize skin health and promote nutrient absorption and cell renewal.


Jays + Jewels Petite Unity Necklace • $60 Dainty and understated jewelry is currently very en vogue. Make a statement with Jays + Jewels' petite unity necklaces. Engraved with the initials of a loved one, you'll be able to keep them close and look ontrend.

Imbibe Beauty Renewal • $54.99 Beauty is more than skin deep. Take care of yourself from the inside out with this transformative beauty elixir.

HOME Homesick Candles • $29.95 Missing home? Or do you simply want to reminisce about a favorite trip? Tap into your sensory memory with these fragrant candles that emit specialized scents to transport you back. From Seattle to Syracuse, candles are categorized by cities, countries, and even memories.

French Farmers Market Tote • $60 Spring is the opening season for most local farmers markets. What better way to store your finds than with a beautiful handwoven basket. With leather trim and handles, this tote effortlessly combines fashion and function.

By Isadora Tattlin • When her husband’s job transfer takes her to Cuba in the early 1990s, Isadora Tattlin resolves to keep a journal of the experience. This book is an inside look at the Castro regime, from the starving locals to religious restrictions. It’s a fascinating glimpse of life inside those enchanting Old Havana buildings and what’s really happening behind the picturesque facades. THE TENTH ISLAND: FINDING JOY, BEAUTY, AND UNEXPECTED LOVE IN THE AZORES

By Diana Marcum • Diana Marcum is struggling when she discovers an unusual group of Azorean immigrants farming in southern California. She travels with them as they take their annual journey to their homeland and learns about their culture and the island’s beauty. Years later she finds herself longing for the island and returns to the Azores only to realize it might be what she was searching for all along. THE CROSSING

By Samar Yazbek • Yazbek, a Syrian journalist, had to flee her country to avoid the wrath of the Assad regime. She returns to her homeland through a hole in the fence along the border with Turkey to report on the atrocities and devastation of war. A YEAR OF LIVING DANISHLY: UNCOVERING THE SECRETS OF THE WORLD’S HAPPIEST COUNTRY

By Helen Russell • The author leaves her dream job in London and heads to Jutland, Denmark so her husband can pursue a job with LEGO. Her witty observations take the reader through the highs and lows of Danish culture.





Every journey tells a story and every woman can tell a tale...especially when she packs her bags to travel the world. We've gathered some of the most heroic, hilarious, and humble women who have taken to the road for jobs, love, and adventure in order to follow their unique stories. AT HOME IN THE WORLD

By Tsh Oxenreider • Tsh and her husband Kyle set off with their three kids to explore the world for nine months. They travel from Australia to Uganda and everywhere in between, discovering that home isn’t necessarily location specific; it’s where you spend time together. WHAT I WAS DOING WHILE YOU WERE BREEDING

By Kristin Newman • Newman was a sitcom writer who would take several weeks each year to travel the world. Along the way she fell in love with not only the planet, but men from all walks of life. Her laughout-loud travel tales will have you wishing you could do the same. BORDER: A JOURNEY TO THE EDGE OF EUROPE

By Kapka Kassabova • A woman returns to Bulgaria twenty five years after she left, to explore the borderlands of Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece. Her tales of the secrets held within villages and the scars of the past create a compelling narrative about this part of the world. TRACKS

By Robyn Davidson • In 1978, Robyn Davidson set off on a 1700-mile journey across the Australian outback, tasked with capturing the aboriginal culture and scenic landscapes for National Geographic magazine. Her tale grips you from the start and doesn’t let go.






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01 LATIN AMERICA Chile has one of the most Instagrammable swimming holes at Lake General Carrera with their magnificent marble caves. This marble planter crafted in Mexico perfectly captures its swirling beauty. Puebla Marble • $95 •

05 SCANDINAVIA Clean lines, minimalism and a monochromatic color palette are all hallmarks of classic Scandinavian design. It’s easy to recreate that peaceful vibe with these unfussy, simple planters. White ceramic • $24-$149 •

02 CALIFORNIA and THE SOUTHWEST Think of the American Southwest, and adobe houses, desert landscapes and warm textured earthenware immediately spring to mind. Capture the spirit at home with these whimsical handcrafted pieces from Southern California. Terra cotta bird • $20 •

06 ASIA Natural materials such as jute, bamboo, and rattan reign supreme in Asia and their woody textures are a great way to bring the outdoors in. Show off your favorite flowers or foliage in this stunning planter. Rattan • $69.99 •

03 CARIBBEAN What’s not to love about warm salty air and cool turquoise waters? Reminisce about sinking your toes in the soft sand with a planter that exudes those classic Caribbean colors. Coastal ombré • $34.99 • 04 AFRICA Mud Cloth fabric has rich cultural significance in many parts of Africa, namely in Mali. Fabric is dyed using traditional methods involving clay or fermented mud, and used worldwide in fashion, art, and home decor. Mud cloth • $19 •

07 MEDITERRANEAN Earthenware proven to stand the test of time still adorn streets and famous buildings in Greece and Rome. These solid vessels are hefty, often in price too, but they can bring lasting beauty into your space. Terra cotta • $390-$520 • 08 INDIA The lively culture of India is unmistakable in much of their home decor where color and shine tend to dominate. This planter has an understated and subtle take on the look, while still incorporating the feel of those precious metals. Brass • $59.95 •



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Eco • Travel

BEST PRODUCTS TO HELP YOU TRAVEL PLASTIC FREE Cutting down on our reliance on single-use plastic is on most people’s radar now, but unfortunately it can become particularly challenging while traveling. Travel writer and eco-enthusiast Zoey Goto has picked out the best products on the market that will help you cut down on plastic disposables while not taking up half your hand luggage. BY ZOEY GOTO • ZOEYGOTO.COM

STOJO COLLAPSIBLE COFFEE CUP The Stojo cup is the brainchild of three New York dads keen on tackling the 58 billion disposable cups that America throws away annually. The resulting design is an ultra-portable, leak proof, and collapsible reusable cup that's perfect for popping into your hand luggage. NOMADER COLLAPSIBLE WATER BOTTLE Made from flexible BPA-free silicone, the cleverly designed Nomader bottle rolls up when not in use, making it a great travel companion. The bottle is leak proof, comes in a range of vibrant colors, and can be popped into the dishwasher.

SERAPHINA'S KITCHEN REUSABLE STRAWS Americans use 500 million drinking straws a day – enough to fill 125 school buses with disposable straws every day. Solution? Reusable straws from Seraphina’s Kitchen. A family pack of funky straws in either regular or extra wide are dishwasher safe, come with a small cleaning brush and an absorbent pouch so you can transport wet straws without them leaking in your bag.

LUSH PACKAGINGFREE PRODUCTS Avoid plastic entirely with Lush's packaging-free body products. These include solid shampoo bars to suit all hair types, deodorants, facial wash, toner bars, and wash cards: strips of fragranced soap that lather up when you add water. The products are solid, so you don’t have to worry about carrying liquids in your hand luggage.

WOWE BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSHES Dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every few months, meaning that an estimated 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year. Solution? Invest in bamboo toothbrushes from Wowe, which have BPA-free bristles and a durable bamboo handle that won’t splinter. The packs of four brushes (enough to last each person a year) arrive in zero waste packaging and come in adult and children’s sizes.

JOSEPH JOSEPH GO EAT CUTLERY SET Avoid having to use disposable cutlery while on the go and invest in this stainless steel portable set from Joseph Joseph. The knife, fork and spoon set fits neatly into its own silicone carry case.

HUMANGEAR GOTOOB CONTAINERS These little silicone containers are perfect for taking your own shampoo and conditioner from home, so you don’t need to use plastic miniatures from hotels while traveling. They are ideal for traveling with just hand luggage, as they hold up to 100 mls and are within airport liquid restrictions.

Let’s be honest: travel and sustainability don’t always make the easiest of partnerships. However, the recent buzz for eco-travel has paved the way for many cities, hotels, tour operators, restaurants and individuals to test out pioneering ways to travel responsibly. Each issue, Twist will be shining a light on the people and places that are attempting to impact the natural environment and local culture in a positive and sustainable way.



COPENHAGEN – THE MUSTVISIT SUSTAINABLE CITY Copenhagen has long been a forerunner for green initiatives, and now many other global cities are looking towards the Danish capital for sustainable inspiration. So what green credentials does this city have? Firstly, bikes are king of the road and outnumber cars. Residents do the school run and commute to work by bike, making Copenhagen’s aim to be carbon neutral by 2025 realistic. Other initiatives include green roofs on buildings, electric buses, public water fountains providing exceptionally clean water, and 70 percent of the city’s hotels holding official eco-certifications. Plus there is a great organic food scene. Time to see for yourself why the Danes are said to be the happiest people in the world!


Over in Bern, Switzerland, the five-star Hotel Schweizerhof Bern has a team of ‘Green Busters’ who've implemented environmentally-friendly ideas. Recent initiatives include reducing food waste by using vegetable leftovers to make vegetable salt, and introducing fully recyclable boxes that allow guests to take leftovers home after dining in the hotel’s restaurants. Hotel Schweizerhof Bern also has 150,000 honey bees on the roof of the hotel, as well as climate-neutral rooms, where guests can donate to offset their CO2 emissions. PLANT YOUR OWN CORAL IN THE MALDIVES What we leave behind in the countries we visit is a concern for many travelers. At the Fairmont Maldives, eco-conscious guests can make sure it’s a positive impact through a number of schemes from planting coconut trees to participating in turtle release programs and planting coral. The Maldives are home to the first coral regeneration project in the Indian Ocean. It uses unique non-toxic sculptures that encourage the settlement of underwater life and act as an artificial reef, patrolled by manta rays and over 250 species of tropical fish. The resort hosts a night time snorkeling program, where guests can explore these sculptures guided by the resort's marine biologist. THE BEACH-CLEAN BUZZ As our global plastic consumption rises, arriving at a vacation destination to find the beach littered with plastic waste is becoming a common concern. The My Green Trip organization is a community of travelers and tourism groups with the mission of picking up trash left in nature. Join one of their meet ups or order their clean-up kit (made from recycled materials) online and organize your own. Over in Mozambique, The Azura Benguerra Island resort has been organizing clean-ups that unite both guests and staff in tackling debris being washed up onto the shore. Every participating eco-conscious guest receives a t-shirt as a memento, along with the satisfaction of knowing they're helping to restore the remote beaches to their former pristine glory. The last clean up resulted in 15 bags of garbage being removed from the beaches.

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Breezy dresses are a must for warm weather. Jersey fabric is forgiving and flowy, enabling you to throw it on and instantly look chic. Top any dress off with warm-toned aviator sunglasses and layered coin necklaces and you’ll look stylish for any occasion!


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JERSEY DRESSES Iconic Luxe: $19.99 (right) Treasure and Bond: $59.99 (left)





SPLURGE: Ray-Bans $168

SAVE: BP. $16


SPLURGE Harvos Gold $152 SAVE: Madewell $48




Madewell $98

Michael Stars $88

Karen Kane $96

Paige $159


Seychelles $110

AE Tomgirl $49.95


BlankNYC $68


Steve Madden $69.95



Distressed shorts and a tee are a classic summer combination. You can elevate this look by choosing a tee with ruffled sleeves. While sandals are always a go-to, close-toed mules add a polished touch to any casual look.

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Protecting your skin is key during sunny weather. Sunless tanning drops (mixed into your moisturizer) are a great alternative to mousse-based tanners because you don’t have to wash it off. Remember to always wear SPF. We love the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops because they are certified Clean at Sephora and are formulated without parabens, sulfates and phthalates. For an additional glow, check out these tried and true products that also look gorgeous on your makeup table.



Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops can add that summer glow to your skin without having to hit the tanning beds or expose your skin to the harmful rays of the sun. Perfect for those who have dry skin, uneven skin tone and even sensitive skin, and for those who want to simply control their glow.


FARMACY SPF30 We love this Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen in SPF 30 for daily use. Not only is it not greasy (yay!), but it protects against environmental factors associated with skin aging.


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SUPERGOOP! SPF50 When you are headed to the beach, you need a water-resistant, oil-free face and body sunscreen. This broad-spectrum UV lotion provides nourishing anti-aging benefits and moisture to the skin so you won't dry out when you are playing in the sun all day.

HOURGLASS BRONZER Grab that sunkissed glow, even when you are sitting behind your desk for eight hours a day. This illuminating bronzer with photoluminescent technology delivers a natural-looking glow while giving your face depth and dimension.


BECCA FACE PALETTE Mom, model and author Chrissy Teigen collaborated with BECCA to created the perfect California sun-kissed palette. Mix and blend these warm, lush, sultry shades of highlighter, blush, and bronzer, all in one little compact you can throw in your purse.

Instagram Inspiration: @beccacosmetics @Trishmcevoy


INTERNATIONAL EXPANDABLE CARRY-ON Lightweight, expandable and with plenty of pockets, this Tumi bag will survive any journey. Available in three colors.

THULE SUBTERRA CARRY-ON The modern-day equivalent to a Mary Poppins carpet bag, this carry-on is deceptively large. Available in three colors. $299 •

HERSCHEL TRADE LUGGAGE CARRY-ON A hard-shell carry-on that comes in a range of fun colors and designs, perfect for the millennial mom. Available in seven colors. $179.99 •

ssible ver po e r e h eck-in W the ch p i k s to to the we like raight t s d a our d he ly with line an n o d e rm y carry gate a r trust u s o g d a n b any rts a h so m passpo t i e r w a t nes s. Bu hich o on bag r rket, w a e of ou m m e re so on th a . e s r d e i k st? H and the be arents p r o f tes ER, favori MEMB


SAMSONITE SPETTRO 20” SPINNER Slick, stylish and able to turn 360 degrees with ease, this case also comes with two built-in packing cubes. Available in silver, blue and purple. $300. •

AWAY THE BIGGER CARRY-ON Some of the best-looking bags on the market come from Away, including this bigger version of their original carry-on. Available in 10 different colors. $245 •

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AMERICAN TOURISTER 18” HARDSIDE UPRIGHT If your kids like a carry-on bag with a Disney theme then these bright cases will be perfect for your little explorer. $64.99 •

Teens will love to customize their own case! Try this 22” hardside expandable spinner carryon and get creative. $64.99-149.99 •


Making luggage fun for kids is what Trunki’s all about. Available in a plethora of colors and designs (we love the Gruffalo the best). $54.99 •

LÄSSIG TROLLEY ROCKLAND ANIMAL 20” Made for your teenage daughter, these fabulous animal print carry-on bags are super stylish as well as super practical. From $89.99 •

Available in four different colors and with four different adventures, these wheelie bags for kids also have lots of clever compartments. Various colors and designs. $89.95 •


Chocolate Truffle Pie with Triple Berry Sauce BY RACHAEL HUTCHINGS • LAFUJIMAMA.COM

Chocolate truffle pie . . . I don’t use the word truffle lightly. We’re not talking a chocolate custard filling here. We are talking a thick, rich, velvety smooth filling. Just what you would expect from a fantastic chocolate truffle. The filling’s supporting characters are a chocolate almond crust and a triple berry sauce (raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry) that is spooned over the top of each slice before serving. 16 servings FOR THE CHOCOLATE ALMOND CRUST • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed • 2 tablespoons water • 1 2/3 cup blanched almond flour • 1/3 cup cocoa powder • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar • 1 tablespoon coconut oil FOR THE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE FILLING • 12.3 ounces extra firm silken tofu (I use Mori-Nu Extra Firm Silken Tofu) • 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons maple syrup • 2 cups vegan dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels) • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other unsweetened milk of your choice) FOR THE TRIPLE BERRY SAUCE • 1 tablespoon cornstarch • 2 tablespoons lemon juice • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar • 1/2 cup water • 3/4 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen) • 3/4 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen) • 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) MAKE THE CHOCOLATE ALMOND CRUST 1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. In a small bowl, mix the ground flaxseed and 2 tablespoons of water together and set aside to thicken for 15 minutes. 3. Whisk the almond flour, cocoa powder, & turbinado sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the flax mixture & coconut oil to the bowl and beat using a mixer, until a moist, crumbly mixture forms. 4. Press the dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let the pie crust cool completely before making the chocolate truffle filling.

MAKE THE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE FILLING 1. Put the tofu and maple syrup in a blender and process until smooth. Set aside. 2. Put the chocolate chips and soy milk in a microwavesafe bowl and stir together. Heat in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring after each 15 seconds, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy. 3. Add the chocolate mixture to the blender and process until smooth and creamy. 4. Pour the chocolate truffle filling into the cooled pie crust, then put the pie in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 6 hours, to chill and set. MAKE THE TRIPLE BERRY SAUCE 1. Place the cornstarch and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and whisk together until no lumps remain. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. 2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, continue cooking the sauce for an additional minute, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Let it cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. EAT! 1. Serve slices of the chocolate truffle pie with triple berry sauce spooned over them. You can add a dollop of whipped cream if you wish.

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This crisp is made with a combination of McIntosh apples and raspberries and topped with an oat crumble. The raspberries elevate this crisp with their bright ruby color and their pop of sweet and sour flavor. Don't have McIntosh apples? Just substitute your favorite apple pie apples. Don't have fresh raspberries? Frozen ones work just as well!

For the Apple Raspberry Crisp Filling • 2 pounds, 13 ounces McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and sliced • 10 ounces raspberries (fresh or frozen) • 1 cup turbinado sugar • 2 tablespoons cornstarch • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon For the Apple Raspberry Crisp Topping • 2 cups quick oats • 1/2 cup oat flour • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt • 1/2 cup coconut oil at room temperature • 1/4 cup maple syrup

MAKE THE APPLE RASPBERRY CRISP FILLING 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Place the sliced apples in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the raspberries over the top of the apples. 3. Whisk together the turbinado sugar, cornstarch, and ground cinnamon in a bowl, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the apples and raspberries.

MAKE THE APPLE RASPBERRY CRISP TOPPING 1. Mix the quick oats, oat flour, turbinado sugar, and sea salt together in a mixing bowl. Add the coconut oil and maple syrup, then use an electric mixer to blend everything together into a clumpy mixture. 2. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit in the baking dish. BAKE THE APPLE RASPBERRY CRISP 1. Bake the apple raspberry crisp in the preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping is starting to brown. 2. Remove the crisp from the oven and let it cool for 10 to 20 minutes before serving. 3. Serve it topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra treat!



This is a glorious era for gin aficionados: there are so many varieties that explore a wide range of botanicals and profiles. From Navy Strength gin to small batch seasonals, gin has come a long way from the intense juniper/citrus driven London Dry style. Today it can be found in every type of cocktail, including floral fruit-forward summer slammers and savory delights. I am blessed to have a number of gin adventuring friends and, on a recent chilly day, we were dreaming of spring and came up with these concoctions…… A note on the gins: we had access to four different gins for our cocktail development: Hendricks, Leatherbees, St. George, and Prairie Gin. Each gin has a unique flavor profile which will impact how it interacts with different mixers. We are including the specific brand of gin in each recipe because our experimentations led us to create a balance based on the ingredients and varieties at hand. Depending on the gin you prefer, you may want to experiment with proportions.

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GLASSWARE All glassware is our own, gifted (cut crystal goblets) or collected over the years at estate sales. Various reproductions are available: Bee Old Fashioned, Highball Gilded old fashioned Cut crystal goblet

3oz St. George Gin 6 drops chocolate bitters ½ clementine (‘cutie oranges'), squeezed ¼ tsp Epic Spices Cookie Sprinkle Ice Trader Joe’s candied orange for garnish Serve In a shaker add ice, gin, bitters, clementine juice and spice. Shake vigorously; strain into chilled glass. Garnish and enjoy.


APRIL ON THE LAKEFRONT THERE’S A SPECIAL DAY FOR ALL CHICAGOANS THAT HAPPENS SOMETIME IN EARLY APRIL WHEN A 'HEAT WAVE' ARRIVES. THE TEMPS ARE RISING, THE UV IS STRONGER, AND THE MOMENT THE MERCURY POKES UP OVER 60 DEGREES, THE LAKEFRONT PARK IS PACKED WITH SUN SEEKERS. OUR PALE WHITE SKIN SOAKS UP THAT HEAT, THE SUMMER DRESSES GET THEIR FIRST OUTING, RUNNING SHORTS AND TANK TOPS SEEM ACCEPTABLE IN THE BRIEF HEAT OF THE MAGICAL DAY. THE CRISP AIR, THE FRESH SUN, THE PROMISE OF THE END OF WINTER…THAT’S THE MAGICAL MOMENT OF APRIL ON THE LAKEFRONT. THIS COCKTAIL EXPLORES THE SPRING GREEN FLAVOR OF CELERY MELLOWED WITH SWEET MEYER LEMON. LEATHERBEES WAS A SURPRISING GIN; THE POWERFUL FORWARD FLAVOR IS MELLOWED THROUGH THE FINISH BY THE CELERY. OVERALL, A WONDERFULLY SAVORY COCKTAIL. 2oz celery juice 2oz Leatherbee gin 1 wedge meyer lemon (if you only have regular lemons, try 1 wedge lemon and a drop of fresh squeezed orange juice - the sweetness of the meyer lemon is key here) 2 dashes celery bitters Splash soda water Ice Celery and thyme for garnish Served on the rocks in an old fashioned glass Put the ice, celery juice and gin into a shaker. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Cover the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour into a 10 - 14 ounce glass; garnish with celery stalk and a sprig of fresh, pinched thyme. Top with soda water. Notes on celery juice: It’s super easy to make your own celery juice. Farm-fresh organic celery is deep green, almost like kale or spinach, and gives you the best flavor; organic is a good second; conventional will do if you can’t find the others. But trust me, one day you have to try farm-fresh organic celery. The powerful complexity of flavor will knock you over and you’ll never go back. For every 6 oz juice, in a blender: 2 stalks celery, washed, chopped into 2-inch chunks 2 oz water Blender on 'liquefy' then strain through a sieve

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ONE OF MY FAVORITE TRAITS OF GIN IS THE FLORAL QUALITIES, AND HENDRICK’S IS WELL KNOWN FOR THAT. THIS COCKTAIL IS AN EASY SIPPER, STUNNING FOR ITS COLOR, EASY TO MAKE AND REALLY EASY TO POUND DOWN ON A BEAUTIFUL SUNNY DAY. 2oz hibiscus syrup 2oz Hendrick's gin 1oz elderflower liqueur or syrup Soda Ice Cucumber slice for garnish Served in a highball Fill the glass with ice. Add the syrup, gin and liqueur; stir to combine. Top with soda water. Garnish and enjoy. Hibiscus syrup: It’s super easy to make your own (1 cup water; 1 cup sugar; boil to dissolve; add 1/4c dried hibiscus petals; stir and take off heat. Let steep 1 hour, stir before straining. Discard the petals or use in another recipe, like hibiscus ice cream or lemon hibiscus muffins). You can find dried hibiscus at most bulk spice and herb counters, though my go-to is the hispanic grocery stores, where it’s sold by the pound (look for jamaica). If you’re asking for it, remember the 'j' makes an 'h' sound (hamaica). Elderflower liqueur: everyone knows about St. Germain, which has taken the bar scene by storm in the last 10 years. There are other, rarer brands. Ikea also has a line of elderflower syrup that’s pretty fantastic (try it as an elderflower soda: 1 tsp elderflower syrup, squeeze of meyer lemon, with soda water).

WHERE TO BUY FLORAL LIQUORS & SYRUPS Elderflower liqueur: Hibiscus syrup:



As you gather items to pack, stop your mail, and let your neighbors know you’re going to be away, take steps to protect your home, whether you’re visiting relatives for the day or going on an extended family vacation. Reassessing your home’s security and using smart home devices provides peace of mind. SMART HOME DEVICES

These days it’s easier than ever to connect devices like lights, cameras, and doorbells so that they all work together. Here are five smart home products that will help you keep an eye on your home from afar. Each is well worth the investment to protect your belongings over the holidays and throughout the year.

SMART LIGHTS GIVE THAT LIVED-IN APPEARANCE Thieves often look for patterns. Installing a few smart lights in table lamps and in key areas can give your house a lived-in appearance when you’re away. Lights like Philips Hue or Caseta by Lutron can be controlled via an app and scheduled to go on and off at different times. KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR HOME WITH SMART CAMERAS Capture movement around your house with smart video cameras like Arlo that provide high quality, clear images with small, battery powered indoor-outdoor cameras that can be placed anywhere. The Arlo mobile app allows you to set up rules, like to start recording video anytime anyone walks up to your door. ANSWER YOUR FRONT DOOR VIA A SMART DOORBELL Smart doorbells like Skybell send motion activated push alerts to let you know that someone is at your front door. Simply tap to bring up the video feed. Talk to visitors from the comfort of your couch - or halfway around the globe. MONITOR THE SAFETY OF YOUR HOME FROM AFAR Gone are the days of the battery powered smoke detector. Intelligent smoke and carbon monoxide alarms like Onelink Safe & Sound send alerts to your mobile devices. CONTROL YOUR SMART HOME THROUGH A SINGLE HUB To manage all these smart home devices, take a look at Samsung SmartThings WiFi. It provides whole home WiFi, home automation, and the ability to pause the internet in one easy kit. Connect devices like lights, cameras, and doorbells so they can all work together and you can manage them through a single app.

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Travel Budget 101

Did you know a weeklong visit to Orlando with the family in tow could cost more than college education in some countries? Depending on how you slice it, you could easily drop $10,000 or more for a family of four to experience Orlando’s top attractions. But it can be done on a budget, too, so there’s hope for travelers with an eye toward economy (and actually saving for college!). We visited the City Beautiful recently to film an episode of our show The Jet Sisters, and discovered multiple ways to explore the best of Central Florida, whether you’re pinching pennies or splashing out on a oncein-a-lifetime trip. Either way, as native Floridians, we can tell you with confidence that while Orlando is known for its theme parks, there’s so much more to the area than mouse ears and magic wands. Once you get outside the main tourist areas, you can really see why Walt Disney was drawn to Central Florida decades ago. Our suggestions all focus on areas outside the parks, so we encourage you to pick some of them on your next visit to Hogwarts!


BUDGET ACTIVITY: Wekiva Island Orlando isn’t terribly close to the coast, so if you want to cool off outdoors, Wekiva Island is a great place to do it. There’s a restaurant overlooking the Wekiva River, fed from a spring about 45 minutes away via kayak. It’s Central Florida’s version of the beach, or a swimming hole the kids won’t forget. HOTEL: The Castle Hotel The adorable Castle Hotel is a perfect fit for any little princess or wizard. If you’re going to be checking out multiple theme parks, it’s around 10-20 minutes to Disney, Universal and Sea World and within walking distance to the ICON 360 complex.




DINING: Beth’s Burger Bar One of our favorite local joints! Founder Beth envisioned her build-your-own-burger diner as a place for gourmet grub, craft beers and board games. Peanut butter and pineapple jalapeño sauce are our favorite toppings, and there are three locations around Orlando so you’re sure to be close to one of them.

HIGH END ACTIVITY: Boggy Creek Airboats The Everglades actually begin in Central Florida, and there’s no better way to see them than via a Boggy Creek Airboat. We loved the YOU DRIVE experience, where you get to drive the boat up to 40 mph around Lake Tohopekaliga. If spotting an alligator is on your bucket list, this is the most epic way to do it. HOTEL: The Grand Bohemian The Grand Bohemian sits between Orlando’s top entertainment venues, the Dr. Phillips Center and the Amway Center. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re visiting for a concert, show or Orlando Magic game. There’s a beautiful spa, a rooftop pool and a massive art collection. DINING If your Orlando adventures take you anywhere near the ICON 360 complex, the Orlando Eye, we suggest a DIY progressive dinner party. There are several restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, so it’s fun to check them all out in one night. You can book packages with dining options and attractions at the complex to simplify your evening.

PRO TIP: If you’re bringing the family to Orlando, chances are the theme parks are on your agenda. The single best invention of the 21st century, at least for theme park lovers, is Disney’s FastPass and Universal’s Express Pass. There are a variety of ways to use these special features to reduce or eliminate wait times, and as theme park aficionados, we promise it’s worth it! Rather than spending a large percentage of your vacation standing in line, you’ll maximize your time in the parks, riding attractions and seeing shows. Trust us... this is our favorite splurge in Orlando.

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FIRST DAY: DOWNTOWN ORIENTATION Breakfast at Becky's Diner is a first-class first taste of Portland. The Mickey Mouse Fruity-Face Pancake is edible art for kids! From here, stroll down Commercial Street for a sense of the Old Port Historic District. This is where to book an orienting tour, like a Portland Discovery Land and Sea Tour trolley trip and sunset cruise (May–September), Maine Duck Tours land and sea history adventure in an amphibious bus (April–October), or a Portland Fire Engine Co. tour in a vintage fire truck. Back at the port, grab a pizza lunch of Flatbread Company's woodfired pies or Portland Pie Co.'s flavored and/or gluten-free crusts.


'Vacationland' Maine is many things and most of it is found in Portland, the state's largest city. That said, Portland's compact peninsular downtown could hardly be counted as big or crowded. Instead, it's a relaxing mix of modern urban sophistication, salt-of-the-earth industrial past and easily accessible nature, with robust culinary and art scenes that appeal to ever more travelers, especially families looking for a long weekend away.

Even better, its island-filled Casco Bay backdrop is peppered with typically Maine lighthouses, rocky shores and colorful lobster buoys. A visit in June sees celebrations of this at the Old Port Festival and Walk the Working Waterfront. Inn by the Sea is a superb, family-friendly, ocean-view hotel in a rural setting. More central is the Residence Inn by Marriott Portland Downtown/Waterfront.

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Time, weather and energy permitting, continue to the grassy seaside Eastern Promenade. Many Portland families come here to picnic, play, pedal, paddle and appreciate summer concerts and festivals, including the July 4th fireworks. For dinner, hit up some food trucks, followed by ice cream at the Old Port. Mount Desert Ice Cream, Gorgeous Gelato and Gelato Fiasco are three local favorites.

SECOND DAY: VISIT THE ENVIRONS Gather morning supplies at Standard Baking Co, a coveted Commercial Street bakery or, for bagel buffs, at Scratch Baking Co. Toast Bar in South Portland. Then head five miles south to Cape Elizabeth's Fort Williams Park, site of the still-operational 1791 Portland Head Lighthouse. There's a museum, fort, playground, sports fields, ponds and more to keep your attention.


Ahead of lunch, tee up an out-of-town experience. From the Casco Bay Lines Ferry Terminal, hop a boat to Peaks Island for a midday meal and stroll, cycle or kayak, and a celebration of the mundane at the Umbrella Cover Museum. Alternatively, 30 minutes north, in New Gloucester, is Pineland Farms, a working farm open to the public for recreation and education. There's also a bakery and creamery. Need bad-weather alternate plans? Try The Escape Room, Salt Pump Climbing Co. climbing gym or Get Air trampoline park. Close out the day with kid-favorite Kamasouptra's 'Best of Portland' soup or Duckfat's duck-fat Belgian fries and milkshakes.

Start with a gentle ride on the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company (May–October) along the Eastern Promenade, leaving time for the small museum. Then brunch (finally!) on Maine lobster at the seasonal (May– October), dockside Portland Lobster Company. That should fuel the engines for some Commercial Street and Exchange Street shopping. Look for Treehouse Toys' earthfriendly souvenirs, Portland Dry Goods' designer casual wear and The Blue Lobster for tchotchkes. To scratch the museum itch, don't miss the high-praisewinning Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine and, next door, the world-class Portland Museum of Art, which has kidspecific play and create areas. Outside the city center, the International Cryptozoology Museum will answer all questions about Bigfoot, mermaids and more. If there's still outdoor energy to burn, tour operators offer whalewatching and nature cruises, sea kayaking and SUP tours, harbor sailing on tall ships and even some hands-on lobstering. Make your final dinner special at DiMillo's On the Water, a family-favorite floating restaurant that's been serving fresh seafood since 1954.

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She Gets Around

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Olli Ella is a home and lifestyle brand owned and managed by two sisters Chloe and Olivia Brookman. Billed as a brand for “nomads, homebodies and small folks” Olli Ella creates timeless pieces with a vintage aesthetic that are both pretty and practical. If you spend any time on Instagram at all then it’s pretty much guaranteed that you've come across their cute See-Ya kids’ suitcases in pastel hues or their play buggies made from hand woven rattan. The company, however, started life as a happy accident. In 2010 Chloe and Olivia were living in London and, after an unsuccessful search for the perfect nursing chair, Chloe decided to design her own. Positive feedback from friends led the duo to exhibiting the chairs at a local trade show to rave reviews. Not long after they were picked up by the iconic British department store, Harrods. From here things moved quickly and the sisters branched out into textiles and homewares. Most recently they’ve launched their first apparel collection.

She Gets Around The Olli Ella products are beautiful but they don't just look good; everything is designed with the planet and people in mind. They use natural materials, sourced sustainably, and focus on craftsmanship and ethical production. Their nursing chairs and ergonomic rocking chairs are made to order, their baskets are handwoven and their clothes are made in an ethically certified factory in Chennai, on the Bay of Bengal in Eastern India. Today the company has offices in Los Angeles, London, Sydney and Bryon Bay. The two sisters live on opposite sides of the world with Chloe in Australia and Olivia Stateside, but they are still both equally involved in Olli Ella and share the same passion for design and sustainability as when they started. We caught up with Olivia to chat about travel, sisterhood and how their semi-nomadic upbringing helped shape Olli Ella. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE STORY BEHIND OLLI ELLA. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?

DO YOU CONTINUE TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR OWN CHILDREN? SHARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE FAMILY HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS WITH US! Yes, we both travel frequently with our children! I found Japan to be a wonderful family vacation destination – it is clean, easy to get around, has some of the most amazing food in the world, and some of the most beautiful natural sights. I’ve also really been enjoying exploring Southern California since moving here last August – Palm Desert and Joshua Tree are two of my favorite family getaways here.

Chloe and I were running an art gallery in London when we started Olli Ella. Chloe was pregnant and searching for stylish, quality nursery furniture and found there was a real lack of options at the time. So we designed a nursing chair for her first child, and Olli Ella grew from there! YOUR FAMILY TRAVELED A LOT WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP; HOW DID LIVING IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES SHAPE YOU? DID THIS NOMADIC LIFESTYLE PLAY A PART IN SETTING UP OLLI ELLA? Living a semi-nomadic childhood means that we are both very adaptable and not afraid of taking risks. We knew from the early days of Olli Ella that we wanted our brand to have a global reach and the fact that we had such close personal ties to these other countries made it feel attainable. Ultimately, we are both complete homebodies at heart, and recognize the importance of a home base that feels welcoming, inviting and a reflection of the people who live there.

Products Left to Right: Play n' Pack; See Ya; Bucket Bag; Pom Pom Belly Basket; Piki; Luggy

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She Gets Around

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HOW HAS TRAVEL INSPIRED YOUR BUSINESS AND YOUR PRODUCTS? Hugely! The more you travel, the more you see that all children have the same needs and desires – to push, pull, transport, nurture and create. WHY DO YOU THINK OLLI ELLA HAS BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL? Thank You! I think it’s because the products we design are simple and timeless, but most importantly, kids love them. When designing products, we really try to think about how children will interact with them – it’s not just about creating something that will sit on a shelf looking beautiful, it’s about creating something functional yet delightful. HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO RUN THE BUSINESS LIVING ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE WORLD? We talk every day, we see each other at least four times a year and we both love Olli Ella with a deep passion. It means that one of us is 'on the clock' no matter where we are in the world, and this can be really helpful when dealing with a team and factories that are spread all across the globe.

PLEASE SHARE THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE PRODUCTS WITH US AND SOME OF THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE DESIGN(S). The Luggy – I designed this when my daughter Nika was one. She was obsessed with packing and unpacking shopping baskets at the supermarket and I really wanted her to have her own basket that she could bring to 'help'. This was the first product that really gave me the confidence as a designer and will always be my favorite. See-ya Suitcase – It’s amazing to see how empowered children feel when they get to do 'grownup' things, and the See-ya suitcase really embraces this. It encourages independence while looking really adorable. My kids love packing and playing airport with theirs. Plus, it got Oprah’s seal of approval, and that’s good enough for me! The Holdie House – Every night before bed, my daughter and I would play with her Playmobil and Sylvanian families. I wanted a dollhouse, but we had a small Victorian house and didn’t have room for a great big one, so I designed the Holdie house as an alternative. I wanted it to be lightweight enough that she could take it off the shelf herself to play with.

"The more you travel, the more you see that all children have the same needs and desires – to push, pull, transport, nurture and create."


WHERE TO NEXT? Off the radar islands that you just shouldn't miss when planning a trip in the U.S.A. BY AMY WHITLEY, TAMARA GRUBER, KELLEY FERRO, JADE BROADUS AND DEB THOMPSON

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Situated as it is on the upper left corner of the States in the Puget Sound, there's no shortage of fresh seafood and farm-to-fork goodness on San Juan Island. Try Downrigger's in Friday Harbor for a classic seafood meal, or splurge with or without the kids at Duck Soup, where rustic island ambiance meets outstanding cocktails and entrees using foraged edibles. Be sure to try a white wine from San Juan Vineyards during your stay on the island as well.

With young kids Lakedale Resort cannot be beat, with options ranging from cabins to camping sites to glamping tents and yurts, all situated on three idyllic lakes at the interior of the island. Kayaks, paddleboards, bikes and a full activity center awaits. For a quieter experience, head to tranquil Snug Harbor Resort where bright, modern suites and condos beckon, right on the water. Island Inn is a good option for a kid-free getaway, overlooking scenic Friday Harbor.



Get on the water with a kayak tour with San Juan Outfitters, located at both Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor. You'll also want to check out the island's several historic parks, including English Camp and American Camp, and the San Juan Historical Museum. Hiking trails criss-cross English Camp, and families can make their way from the bluffs where English officers once built their homes, to the bay where a garrison still stands.

Families will most likely want to have their car, so a ferry ride on Washington State Ferries from Anacortes, Washington is the way to go. In the summer months, it's crucial to reserve ferry passage early. If you're traveling car-free, it’s possible to take the Victoria Clipper from Seattle or the Puget Sound Express from Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula during the high season. Just be prepared for long waits if you do not reserve in advance.




If you are in the mood for fish tacos and margaritas, head to Tortuga Jack’s, the island’s only beachfront restaurant and tiki bar. For something more formal, soak up the historic elegance of the Jekyll Island Club Resort with Sunday Brunch of Victorian Tea at the Grand Dining Room.

For a classic family vacation destination enjoy the historic charm of the Jekyll Island Club Resort where kids can roam, swim, bike, and play tennis, mini golf, or croquet. Some families may prefer the beachfront setting at The Westin Jekyll Island or camping at the Jekyll Island Campground.

PLAY When not relaxing on one of Jekyll’s gorgeous, wide sand beaches, families can explore the 20 miles of bike trails, with stops at Driftwood Beach and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. If you are looking for more excitement, the Summer Waves Water Park delivers thrills for kids.



Catalina Island’s sandiest beach is also home to the Descanso Beach Club, an open air restaurant with reggae beats and water views. Relax with the boozy island favorite, 'Buffalo Milk'. For an upscale atmosphere and farm-to-table entrées, the Avalon Grille is one of the busiest spots in town. If it’s fresh caught fish you want, The Lobster Trap is a local favorite.

SLEEP Crisp, nautically inspired rooms surround a palmstudded lawn at the Pavilion Hotel. Just steps from the harbor on the main street in Avalon, the location can’t be beat. Don’t miss their complimentary breakfast buffet and hurry back by five pm for the wine happy hour . Perched overlooking the harbor, the Mt Ada has one of the most enviable views in town. No wonder it was once the home of the Wrigley family! It still has the historic charm of a private residence. Be sure to book one of the six en-suite rooms that come with a water view.


Explore Catalina's hillsides by renting your own golf cart or fly through the treetops and canyons with Zip Line Eco Tours. Take to the seas on your own kayak with Descanso Beach Ocean Sports, which also offers guided tours.

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EAT Fishing pole to plate is pretty common at Amelia Island restaurants, it just depends if you want a paper plate or custom silverware. The Crab Trap is a family favorite and Fernandina Beach landmark. Lulu's on 7th has shrimp po'boys that you'll be talking about for weeks later. Green Turtle Tavern uses local fruits and herbs from their garden to create specialty hand-crafted cocktails, and the live music on the front porch will have you tapping your foot as you people watch.

SLEEP From the Ritz Carlton to the Omni Plantation, you have all the luxuries you need right at your fingertips, and plenty of areas for the kids to have fun too. Traveling on a parentsonly getaway? Book one of the downtown B&B's like the Florida House Inn, a restored railway building from the 1850s, where you can casually stroll the shops and restaurants between activities.

PLAY If your kids are the type to wake up at the crack of dawn, use that to your advantage and book a sunrise horseback ride on the beach. You'll wear them out before breakfast, and be ready to hit the beach or embark on a guided wildlife sightseeing tour of dolphins, manatees, alligators and sea otters. Still not tired yet? Book a hang gliding adventure for the older kids or grown ups, and a sunset paddle board excursion for the group.



Enjoy lunch with Straits of Mackinac views and Grand Hotel food at Fort Mackinac Tea Room. Bistro on the Greens is mixing up some of the best craft cocktails and bites on the island. In the evening head to everyone's favorite, Pink Pony, for funky cocktails and live music.

SLEEP A stay at the majestic Grand Hotel tops everyone's bucket list with its amazing views, five-course meals, and luxurious atmosphere. For a more modern stay, grab a room at the brand new luxury boutique hotel Mackinac House, in the heart of downtown. Pet-friendly accommodations are available at Mission Point Resort.


Mackinac Island is a car-free island so prepare to walk, bike, or take horse-driven taxis. Carriage tours showcase the charm and history of the island and stop at Arch Rock. Adventurous visitors can drive their own team of horses. Fudge is an island specialty. Free samples are available at all the shops so try before you buy.

n r e t s e w SAN IGNACIO AND



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STEP OFF THE PLANE, HEAD STRAIGHT TO THE JUNGLE. IF YOU THINK OF WHITE SAND BEACHES, TROPICAL CAYES AND SNORKELING WHEN YOU THINK OF BELIZE, YOU’RE NOT WRONG… BUT YOUR IMPRESSION IS ALSO NOT COMPLETE. The Cayo District of Western Belize is farther off the beaten path, a good 1.5 to 2-hour drive from Belize City, in fact. But here, families will find the type of outdoor exploration that can be hard to find anywhere else: caving, cenote-swimming, Maya ruins-touring, hiking, canoeing and rapeling abounds here, where the jungle stretches to the Guatemalan border. The wildlife is plentiful, the elevation might surprise you— yes, Belize has mountains!—and the people will welcome you. We based our Belizean adventure in the town of San Ignacio, which boasts a population of only about 10,000. The town is easily walkable, with a lively city market, carefully-curated museums, fun shopping, and affordable, delicious local dining. From San Ignacio, outdoor adventure is as little as 20 minutes away, with most excursions within an hour’s drive. You’ll want to rent a car if you plan to explore primarily on your own, but if you opt for guided tours, which we recommend in many cases, you’ll have the benefit of a driver. Here’s what to put on your adventure itinerary in the Cayo District of Belize.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO XUNANTUNICH AND CAHAL PECH Both these Mayan archeological sites are rich in historical and cultural significance, and both are within easy distance of San Ignacio. At Xunantunich, we walked in the footsteps of the Mayan people who civilized this region long before Columbus made his mark (or Christ, for that matter). You can certainly visit this site, and the smaller and even closer Cahal Pech, on your own, but we would have missed half of the history without our guide from San Ignacio Resort Hotel (see below for more information on how to book tours). At both sites, we were most wowed by the interior living spaces and bedchambers we could poke into and the steep steps we could climb for spectacular jungle views.

ST. HERMAN’S CAVE & BLUE HOLE Also a very manageable drive from San Ignacio, St. Herman’s Cave is located within Blue Hole National Park. If you visit on your own, you can hike the trails here, some of which get above the canopy of trees to a higher ridge line for bird watching and wildlife viewing, but if you want to explore the entirety of St. Herman’s Cave, you do need a guide. With ours, we hiked, climbed, crawled, and leaped our way through the huge cave to emerge on the other side. Unlike any cave system I’ve explored in the U.S., St. Herman’s cave lacks paved paths, guard rails or lights…so it feels challenging and exciting and just a bit scary. Donning headlamps and helmets, we made it through (the route takes about 1.5 hours) and emerged sweaty on the other side. We were hot and sweaty by the time we were out, so we opted to take a dip in the nearby Blue Hole this national park is named for (a cenote swimming hole).

MOUNTAIN PINE RIDGE FOREST RESERVE Yes, a pine forest exists in Belize, in Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. Located at about 3,000 feet elevation, the reserve is about an hour and a half from San Ignacio along pretty rugged (at times) dirt roads. It’s a long drive, but once inside the park, we found some of our favorite outdoor attractions in Belize. And it’s definitely do-able to drive yourself to this location, as long as your vehicle can navigate the rough roads. You’ll want a good map of the area, and be advised that Google and GPS won’t help you once in the park.

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THE #1 REASON TO BOOK THE SAN IGNACIO RESORT HOTEL: ALL THE EXCURSIONS YOU WANT ARE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. Start at the Rio Frio Cave, located about 11 miles down the main dirt road of the park, where a cavernous opening leads to what the Mayans once described as the Underworld. It forms a tunnel here, with the Rio Frio pooling and winding through it. Nearby, the Rio On awaits, with a series of deep and shallow pools, cascades and waterfalls ready-made for adventurous kids (and their parents) to explore. Hands down, the pools at River On were our favorite attraction. During your stay in San Ignacio, be sure to take time to enjoy the town itself. The fruit and vegetable market is busiest on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, so go on one of those days if possible, and consider booking a session at AJAW Chocolate and Crafts, where you can learn about the history and process of cacao and drinking chocolate in the Mayan tradition. We spent a week in San Ignacio and barely scratched the surface of the outdoor and cultural excursions offered here. With more time, we would have canoed the Macal River, rappelled into a sink hole, toured more caves, and driven over the border to see the ruins at Tikal. We didn’t miss megaresorts, all-inclusive dining experiences, or beaches.

By basing your vacation in San Ignacio, families get the best of both worlds: jungle and town life. At San Ignacio Resort Hotel, you’re literally steps from downtown (just up a short but steep hill) but when you gaze out of your window, you might as well be in the heart of the rainforest. Room categories vary at San Ignacio Resort Hotel from welcoming and affordable garden rooms, complete with jungle views and outdoor private patios with hammocks, to two-room suites overlooking the tree canopy. My son and I woke every morning to bird song and toucans literally on our balcony, and views of iguanas hanging out in the palm trees. But the number one reason to book the San Ignacio Resort Hotel: all the excursions you want to do are at your fingertips. The hotel’s team of guides are the best in the region, and the hotel concierge make setting up each day’s adventure easy. Families even get a briefing the night before, so they can be sure of exactly what to wear, what to bring, and what to expect. Tours leave directly from the hotel, and the the staff here takes care to keep tours customizable and private (if you book as a family group, you’re very unlikely to be paired with additional people). And good news: even if you choose not to stay at the hotel, you can still book all your guided excursions of the Cayo area through them, and get the same five-star treatment.



In defiance of the posh surroundings, I was gulping down my tall glass of Sommerschorle with an impressive lack of elegance. It was nearly 100 degrees F and I was melting in the summer heat of Baden-Baden, in southwestern Germany. The icy glass of rosé, Aperol, tonic water, lime and mint was just the, well, tonic I needed to perk up after an afternoon of sightseeing with our city guide, Valeria. She’d recommended this popular summer spritzer pick-me-up, and we sat and sipped, watching the late afternoon stroll of people go past. We’d spent a half-day walking through the narrow streets and up and down the hills of one of the world’s original spa towns, a city that thrives on wellness, culture and natural beauty. If wellness is a travel trend for 2019, then Baden-Baden, Germany, has been ahead of the curve, by about 2,000 years. Baden-Baden is the Belle Epoque town that’s been attracting the rich, famous and those seeking water cures for centuries. But the history of this bucolic spa center goes back millennia. The Romans established the city more than 2,000 years ago as a place of strategic importance but also for relaxation in its healing hot springs.

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The Romans built a bathhouse the ruins of which can still be seen and toured, and cultivated grapevines in the nearby hills to produce wine as part of the soldiers’ daily rations, as was required by Roman law. The ‘good-good’ life of Baden-Baden really took off in the 17th century. Nobility from across Europe converged for spa cures (the healing waters were sipped rather than soaked) in the green hills of the Black Forest, and those idle nobles needed more than water to keep them occupied. Their presence spawned cultural festivals, founded museums and musical societies, and built one of the largest casinos in Europe. The elite promenaded daily along the frescoed arcade of the Trinkhalle (pump house), and the beautiful tree-lined Lichtentaler Allee, to see and be seen. All of these activities carry on to this day, though the dress code and accessibility has changed. Baden-Baden is open to everyone, including families interested in adding dashes of history and culture into their European adventure mix. We’ve visited Baden-Baden on a number of occasions, both with and without children. Close to the borders of France and Switzerland, it was a perfect location to take a cultural and wellness break from visiting family and our active European road trip itinerary. The city sits in a green valley surrounded by rolling hills. Its pedestrian-only downtown is well maintained with narrow passages. Pathways are best explored with good walking shoes, although Valeria navigated

the cobblestones in impressively high wedge heels. You can easily walk from hotels to the spas, museums and local restaurants in this compact city. Baden-Baden’s reputation as a spa town is well earned, and every visitor should take in a spa experience. There are two excellent bathhouses, and the choice between them will depend on how comfortable you are in your own skin. The Caracalla Spa is a modern thermal spa with a slightly Romanesque design that includes a lot of marble columns and decorative statues. There are 12 thermal springs, a rock grotto with hot and cold pools, and an outdoor area with two marble pools, outdoor lazy river, two whirlpools and sun bathing loungers. This is the more family-friendly of the two spas, where kids between the ages of 7 and 14 are allowed when accompanied by an adult. (There is childcare for kids 18 months+.) The sauna facilities are extensive but there is an extra charge to use them, and it’s a clothing free zone. Or as they refer to it, a nudist area. Which brings us to the Friedrichsbad spa. For couples or families with kids 14 and older who are comfortable in their own skins, the beautiful Roman-Irish bathhouse of Friedrichsbad is an excellent choice. It is an elegant nudist bathhouse built in the 19th century, with thermal pools, warm air chambers, massage areas and relaxation rooms. Its domed bathing temple room is like nothing else. Yes, it’s good to get naked among strangers, and can be quite freeing once you know where to look, or not look. It’s a mixed bathhouse on most days of the week, so mind the schedule and be sure to plan accordingly.

As delightful as spending every day at the spa might be, Baden-Baden is a city of culture and natural beauty that invites exploration. One of the prettiest tree-lined avenues in the world, the Lichtentaler Allee, links the city’s impressive collection of art and cultural museums along a green corridor just steps from the romantic old town. Couples and families with children walk the Allee until dark, admiring the lush landscaping and variety of towering trees, and taking rests in the shade on plentiful benches. Our summer visit coincided with the city’s Long Night of Museums. In late July, museums such as Museum Frieder Burda (excellent art gallery and museum shop), Museum LA8, State Art Gallery and the City Museum are free to the public from 6 PM to midnight. In addition, the museums offer live music, food and special guided tours through the exhibitions. We enjoyed wandering through the galleries and halls of the various museums, and listened to a concert of alphorn music and an operatic exhibition that took place across the Allee’s garden. The beauty of the valley is impressive, but seeing it from the city’s highest point of Mount Merkur is well worth the ride up Germany’s steepest and longest funicular railway, the Merkurbergbahn. You can drive or take the bus from town to get to the base of this mountain, and then ride the scenic funicular up 1,200 feet to the summit of Merkur, which sits at 2,191 feet. The views of Baden-Baden and the valley are beautiful on a summer’s day. We took a walk along the summit pathways, and then enjoyed a light lunch and toasting the view with local beer and white wine at the Merkurstüble restaurant. The mountain is very popular with paragliders, and we watched several do running take offs to ride the wind and float gently back into the valley. A summer weekend in Baden-Baden will rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit, with fond memories of a good-good life that can be found among the trees and waters in the Black Forest.


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THE STUMBLING STONES OF BADEN-BADEN This summer marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the beginning of the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. There will be many significant commemorative events throughout Britain and France, as well as remembrances in other parts of the world including Canada and the United States. A silent commemoration of the victims of World War II exists throughout Germany and in Baden-Baden. They are the stumbling stones, or stolpersteine. The stumbling stones were created by Gunter Demnig, a German artist who founded the project in the mid-1990s to memorialize individuals who were victims of the Nazis, at their last known residence. The stumbling stones are actually small brass plates etched with Hier Wohnte (here lived), name, date of birth, deportation and death, (or notice of emigration,) and attached to cobblestones that are embedded in the pavement in front of the victim’s former home. Many of those victims were German Jews, but the stones also commemorate the deportation of Roma and Sinti to concentration camps in Eastern Europe. As deportations increased during the war, many German Jews relocated to Baden-Baden, hoping that its international reputation as a cultural hub would prevent deportation. It did not, and most of the Jewish population was sent to concentration camps and killed. More than 70,000 stumbling stones have been embedded in 1,000 cities and towns throughout Germany. There are 142 stones in Baden-Baden.



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THE ROOTS OF PORTUGUESE DESIGN Nestled next to the Atlantic Ocean and wedged between Spain and North Africa, Portugal is a melting pot with a rich history. Early Portuguese explorers established trade routes and land claims from Goa and Macau to Mozambique and Brazil. And when they returned, they brought pieces of the world back with them. In Lisbon alone, you’ll see Moorish, African and even Asian design elements, each with its own unique Portuguese flavor.


While you may not be able to steal that breathtaking golden light of Lisbon, you can create a Mediterranean ambience inside your home with a few well-chosen items. Like Portugal’s famous piri piri spice, it only takes a teaspoon of Portuguese style to give your home a rich, exotic feel!

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17th Century Tiles

Kitchen Tile Stickers

For an inexpensive backsplash alternative, these Moorish stickers are quick and easy to apply and will achieve that same fun and flamboyant flavor you’re looking to add to the kitchen!

Kitchen Island Pendant Lights

Minimalist design yet full of character, these opal glass lights add subtle sophistication to your kitchen island. Each pendant comes with an authentic Portuguese cork top.

Tree trunk glassware

Straight from Lisbon, these glazed terracotta tiles are inspired by the 17th-century tile work covering the walls and ceilings of churches and palaces across Portugal. Today, these tiles create the perfect accent for a kitchen backsplash or home bar.

Portuguese Cork Bowl

Inspired by Portugal’s twisting carob trees, this glassware is handcrafted by Portuguese designer, Samuel Reis. It even comes with an authentic carobtree wooden cork.

Doubling as a bread or fruit bowl, the raw, natural texture of this piece will infuse warm, earthy tones into the kitchen.

Measure and Store Canisters

Tunisian Pinch Pots

Handmade in Tunisia, these dashing little pinch pots bring a splash of color to the kitchen counter. Keep those North African spices close at hand.

Made entirely from recycled wine bottles, you can showcase your brightest dry ingredients inside these clean and simple, all-in-one canisters. Nestled right on top are solid acacia wood measuring cups so you can save on counter space.

Whether you’re mixing up an exotic North African feast, or spicing up some Spanish tapas, these mixing bowls will inspire all your cooking ventures.



Kohler Mille Fleurs Ceramic Sink With its blossoming branches and birds in flight, this elegant sink whispers of old-world folk art.

foundation bowls

Bring earthy elements into your design with marble bowls to store your jewelry that can hold up to the hustle of your every day life.

Brass Faucet

Bath Mat

Fun and wild, this is the perfect bath mat to step onto – whether you need a bit of inspiration to start the morning or some dream inspiration for the night.

Hammered Copper Bathtub Transform your bathroom into an Arabian palace with the warm, exotic tones of this copper tub. Embrace that feeling of royalty as you settle into a luxurious, aromatic bath!

Moroccan Tiles

These hand chipped mosaics add warmth and Morrocan charm to your bathroom.

Decorative Drawer Knobs

There’s nothing more alluring than brass, with its warm and tarnished look. This brass faucet will bring the bathroom together, adding richness, extravagance and old-world charm.

Nothing’s simpler or easier than switching out drawer knobs. In five minutes, you can add a subtle pop of color and a hint of Portuguese style to your bathroom drawers.

Vintage Brass Wall Mirror

Remodelista’s Tile Pick

Hang this jewel-like mirror in your bathroom to add a vintage, middle eastern flair. It’s sure to draw the eye, and compliments, of your guests.

Handpainted in iconic Portuguese blue and gold, these tiles are another great option for the bathroom floor or an accenting backsplash.

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BLUE UESE G U T POR ings to lue br b y t s u zulejo This d ous A m r a f e th olor fo mind reat c g a e ’s h t nd it cially tiles a – espe m e o h o t r and any room living oom. bathr

PORTU GUESE S ONNET Pale yell ow, like the last rays of a Portugu e s e sunset, this colo r makes you feel warm an d cozy. It ’s great fo the livin r g room o r kitchen (Ray of L ight is a brighter version and Soft O ff-White is a subtl e alterna tive).

HITE AGED W ed e-wash le, whit p e im s h a rm w it For ok, a wa lo d e t g and a perfec ate the will cre guese r Portu o f s a v can work. If and art s e il t e white, featur colder a r e f e e you pr with blu a white choose ones. undert

PEACOCK CHAIR PRINT: As a bonus, add a gorgeous Portuguese print or two. This one embodies the pink walls of Lisbon, uniting the free and flamboyant charisma of the city with the regal elegance of its inhabitants.


Baroque Handpainted Tiles These bright and sassy tiles are a great choice for an upbeat living room. Their unique colors and design are sure to be a conversation-starter!

Brass Chandelier

Moroccan Pillow

Encapsulate the liveliness of the Mediterranean with this Moroccan design pillow.

Mariella Portuguese Lamp

Bringing to mind the colors of the sea, this ombre lamp will complement any end table and add some Portuguese style.

Textured Anthropologie Pillow

There are few items with as much character as a chandelier. The rich, antique brown brass compliments the warm, white glass and brings a natural focal point to your living room.

Bringing to mind the sheep herders of Portugal, these chunky pillows are woven from vintage materials and will create a rustic, European ambiance in your living or sitting room.

Stair and Fireplace Tile Stickers

Faded Ceramic Blue Tile Planter

For a less expensive decorative tile option, try these lively Portuguese-inspired tile stickers to brighten staircases and add character to fireplaces.


Resembling outdoor tile work, these distressed planters are perfect for creating a vintage look inside your home.

Vintage Portuguese Runner

This needlepoint runner is the perfect choice to add some depth and character to your hardwood hallways.

Coffee Table with Tile Accent

This gorgeous coffee table is the perfect center-piece for a living room. It will draw the eye, spark curiosity and ignite conversation.

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Great cities are cultural, political and commercial strongholds. We wanted to share that with our two young sons... Morocco-style!

The challenge: knowing where to look in Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakesh when there's just so much to see.



The first plunge into a labyrinthine Moroccan marketplace, called a souk, can be unbalancing, but usually in the best of ways for families fond of fun urban adventure. Like a kaleidoscope for all five senses, a souk is a fantasia of spices, food, jewelry, clothing, crafts and colorful bric-a-brac packed to the arches in a hodgepodge of storerooms. Here are djellaba-robed shopkeepers calling for your attention. Over there are boys easing through a throng on bikes stacked with hotout-of-the-oven flatbread. Local women haggle over the price of fresh vegetables, while tourists admire stately rugs and pointy-toed babouche slippers. For me, my wife and our two young sons, it was a glorious wonderland. Importantly, even in such a raucous cultural potpourri, we had little sense of the alarmist travel warnings that sometimes haunt Morocco. More than hazards around every corner, we saw supportive smiles, made especially warm by Moroccans' love of children. Travel in Morocco for children definitely isn't time in a kids club, but we found the concerns about heat, overcrowding and insecurity to be exaggerated. Instead, our days wandering the history- and sensoryrich souk alleyways were just one highlight of a 10-day journey. We focused on three of the country's most important cities – Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakesh – and came to appreciate their unique identities.

CASABLANCA, BUSINESS AS USUAL Casablanca doesn't hold high rank as a tourist destination among Morocco's major cities. That's one reason why we visited. We imagined introducing our sons to Moroccan culture without the off-putting commercialism sometimes associated with list-topping travel centers. In Casablanca, we got what we were looking for: pleasant, low-key family time in a city structured more for local function than visitor services. Our goal was to explore the Old Medina, or original walled city, on our way to the imposing, seaside Hassan II Mosque, Africa's largest, with the world's tallest minaret. Happily, the easy pace of the workaday old town, where residents went about their business and our sons frolicked with local kids, meshed well with the spacious and placid majesty of the mosque, which non-Muslims can only access on worthwhile guided tours. Next time, we'll head farther along the coast to Casablanca's beaches, but as it was getting late, we stopped for our first traditional Moroccan meal. At family-ready La Sqala, located within a unique and timeless 18th-century fortification, we gobbled briouates (puff pastries) and tajines (savory stews), and relaxed over sweet mint tea, all unforgettable staples of Moroccan cuisine.

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photos via

RABAT, CAPITAL OF MOROCCO For families, the best way to reach Rabat is by train, particularly the brand new Tangier-to-Marrakesh highspeed rail, the first on the African continent. Rabat's convenient downtown station even connects to the city's modern, kid-friendly, two-line tram. During our time in this small city noted for its laidback welcome and modern conveniences, we sought out its storied past: a medina quite different from Casablanca's, based on a more orderly grid that felt refreshingly local once away from the market streets and souk; the Kasbah of the Oudayas, Rabat's historic citadel and a warren of whitewashed, turquoise-trimmed houses hidden behind the massive, right-out-of-fantasy, 12th-century Bab Oudaya gate; and the Chellah Gardens, a great place for junior archeologists to explore atmospheric ruins dating back to pre-Roman times. Of course, bracketing each day was fabulous food, from traditional hotel-rooftop breakfasts (fried eggs, semolina pancakes, goat cheese, olives, fresh-squeezed juice, mint tea) with views of the ocean to satisfying dinners of brochettes and salads overlooking busy plazas. ABLE Flagship store, Nashville, TN



Easier than ever to reach via high-speed train, busy, buzzy Marrakesh was our final stop. For lodging, we secured a room in our first riad, or traditional house, located within the huge, mazelike, medieval medina. The idea of a family-friendly, home-like hideaway, especially during the hottest times of day, outweighed any warnings about steep staircases and noise-carrying central courtyards. It was awesome. Then we reserved our trip's first organized activities: a family cooking class, a traditional hikayat (storytelling) performance and, after so much city, a day trip to the green Ourika Valley, where we hiked to waterfalls and lunched at tables immersed in the local river. That still left time in Marrakesh for scavenger hunts and bargaining in the vast, sense-spinning souk; visits to palaces, gardens and historic medina buildings; and notto-be-missed, keep-your-wits-about-you evening trawls through the carnivalesque Djemaa El Fna main square filled with food stalls, street performances, fortunetellers, snake charmers, henna artists and so much more. It was, like a refrain for our family experiences in Morocco, another glorious wonderland. And hard to know where to look first!

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On Arrival to Scarabeo desert camp, the children had two questions. Where was the sand and why was it raining? The joy of Instagram is being able to put in the hashtag of the area you are visiting, select an image you love and before you know it you can jump inside the squares and be at the same place yourself. Details are not my forte and the incredible images on the Scarabeo Instagram show blue skies, guests mainly dressed in white and sunshine, not muddy socks, wet hair and grey sunsets. Type in Marrakesh and there will be hundreds of images of the souks, the vibrant coloured spices and plenty of rugs. The white safari tents of Scarabeo in the desert with plush Moroccan interiors, log fires and candlelit

dinners stood out to me. I bought into the camp immediately, it looked like a haven, a place to retreat from life and it lived up to my expectations, just with a few bumps on the way. Scarabeo is a luxury camp in the Agafay desert. There were other camps nearby but to be honest, if we were going to take my three young boys to sleep in a desert camp I wanted the food to be incredible, wine to be an option (Morocco has very little alcohol for sale) and the beds to be very comfy. Scarabeo did not disappoint. As I previously mentioned, comfort and food are very important to me when traveling with the children. No sleep and none of us are pleasant to be around the

18 following day and particularly with this short trip (a long weekend away) I wanted to take no chances with accommodation. Had I looked more closely at the desert description I would have noticed that the Agafay desert is a small rocky desert set beneath the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. To reach the closest sandy desert (the Sahara) it is a fifteen hour drive from Marrakesh. The promise of rolling down sandy dunes was one I could not keep when we arrived at the camp which was only fortyfive minutes away from Marrakesh. Still, spending time at Scarabeo felt like we were a million miles away from the crowded souks of the city. There was no need to visit the Sahara to gain a desert experience, for beginners this was the perfect start. On arrival to camp, a grey sky didn’t stop the boys from jumping out of the jeep and climbing up a large hill to overlook the camp. The heavens opened and it took ten minutes to get down, by which time we were drenched through every item of clothing and our shoes. Upon entry to our tent it was like stepping back in time, candles in lamps around the room, sumptuous iron beds lined up along the tent with the master bed looking out across the chalky landscape outside. We put on our pyjamas, hung up the clothes to dry and a lovely man came to light a fire as we lay in bed reading and trying to keep the boys entertained until the rain stopped. Rain does not bother the boys at all but we weren’t prepared and only had one change of clothing for our overnight stay so we tried to keep them in until things had dried out. Our afternoon camel trek was postponed for the following day as the camels saddles were so wet. The boys were busy playing explorers in a gully, my husband (who failed to bring himself a change of clothes) was desperately trying to dry his clothes (all he managed to do was burn his shoelaces on the log burner despite my suggestions not to put them directly onto the burner!).

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I headed for the campfire where the resident singer was strumming his guitar and singing stunning songs in French. I ordered wine from one of the attentive staff and soaked up the sunset across the desert. The idea of a communal meal with my three children had concerned me. Scarabeo had a separate tent set up for us; upon entry we saw our table with candelabras and directors chairs apiece. There was one other couple in there and we could have heard a penny drop. In my entire time as a parent I have never seen the children quieter at a mealtime. The silence of the desert, the sense of joy at eating outside under candlelight, excitement at the stars in the sky meant that when the waiters presented our meal of camp specialities; baby camel tagine and beetle (Scarabeo means beetle) tagine, the boys were prepared to give it a try. Luckily, this was a joke from the staff and it was vegetarian and chicken tagine, both of which were delicious and served with homemade bread. Activities available at Scarabeo are stargazing with their in house astrologer, quad bike trek (this was hugely popular with people in camp but the kids were too young), horse riding, yoga, massage or a camel trek. After a deep sleep in our tent we enjoyed waking up to blue skies and a breakfast of freshly baked bread and freshly squeezed oranges from the nearby trees before our camel trek. One hour was plenty of time on the camels; these creatures do not move at speed and, the kids wanted to get off and explore the landscape. Twenty-four hours with children is plenty of time to experience the beautiful oasis of Scarabeo. Within fortyfive minutes we were back at our riad in the centre of the souks, leaving with a bottle of desert “sand” for show and tell at school, calm minds and a trip to the physio for me. Camel saddles are very wide, think twice before booking yourself a long camel trek, it may cost you more in physio than for the ride itself.

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Rio, Brazil



DOWNTOWN MEXICO From sleek to charming to downright luxurious, these city enclaves are far from cookie-cutter, but do have one thing in common: a sense of unique space that provides a comfortable ambiance in the bustling heart of the world's busiest cities. From Brazil to France to the States, find the urban escape you're looking for, whether you're a solo traveler or adventuring with the whole family unit.

By Katja Gaskell,




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This sense of welcome is extended to the rooms, which include velvety red chaise lounges in the King Suite and duvet covered, pillow-top beds that make sleeping feel like lying on a cloud. The Graham Georgetown might be a quiet haven from one's daily life, but the neighborhood is vibrant, with a colonial history meets upscale shopping and eclectic dining vibe. Every street, nook and cranny had a story to share, from the Old Stone House (the last remaining original house of Georgetown) to locally-owned Dog Tag Bakery, a business helping vets through job training. Guests are also within walking distance of the National Mall and all of the Smithsonian museums. After settling into accommodations at The Graham, step downstairs to the basement for a few Happy Hour drinks at The Alex to start the weekend on the right foot. Then, head to any one of the area's dining options for a bite.

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Dinner at Farmers, Fishers and Bakers, a restaurant that requires a reservation if you want a table on a weekend, is a good place to start. Just be prepared for a progressive-style meal that can last blissful hours. Le Chaumiere is located nearby as well, with an extensive wine list and a chocolate soufflé that will make you wish you'd ordered two. Eno Wine Bar is a nice ending note to any weekend evening in Georgetown, and for Sunday morning, El Centro’s weekend brunch is a hot spot for the millennial crowd. For a set price, treat yourself to bottomless mimosas, Bloody Marys and any of the other alcoholic beverages on the brunch menu, as well as all-you-can-eat tapas. If you do opt to bring the kids in lieu of an adults-only weekend, they are welcomed at The Graham, even though it screams sophistication. Its prime location makes it a natural choice.

ADDRESS 1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007 WEB SITE STARTING PRICE $315/night

Photos courtesy of Keryn Means and The Graham Georgetown

The Graham, an Independent Collection Hotel, is tucked away on a side street in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C, just off of M Street. The décor is warm and welcoming, just like the neighborhood, but still modern in its furniture design and color selections. Vibrant red chairs cradle a fireplace in a sunken gathering area and a plush seating area opposite the reception desk is a welcome relief after trekking around town in heels all day.



Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world. Home to some 22 million people, it’s a dense urban area where space is at a premium. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Centro Historico, the capital’s crowded historic centre where buildings constructed in a mishmash of architectural styles rub shoulders along ancient streets that are today filled with tourists, hawkers and impatient taxi drivers.

Photos courtesy of Katja Gaskell

This colorfully chaotic neighborhood has always been the heart of Mexico City. In Aztec times it was the main ceremonial centre of the capital Tenochtitlan, later it was where the Spanish founded their capital, and, more recently it was the setting for the opening scene in the James Bond movie Spectre. It’s also where you’ll find some of the capital’s most exciting boutique hotels including Downtown Mexico. Housed within a 17th-century palace, Downtown Mexico is a chic hotel, restaurant and retail complex and one of the most exciting places to stay in Mexico City. Originally built in 1670 as the private residence for the Countess of Miravalle, the palace became an exclusive hotel in 1850 and was later transformed into a bank (you’ll spot the odd bank safe dotted around the property). It returned to life as a private residence in the 20th century and then housed a handful of jewelery stores. In 2010 the property’s owner approached Groupo Habita, a hotel group with a reputation for cool, innovative hotels in the capital, and asked if they would be interested in bringing the building into the 21st century. And so, Downtown Mexico was born. Guests are welcomed through towering wooden doors into an interior courtyard, three-stories high. The main patio is home to Azul Histórico, a fantastic Mexican

ADDRESS Calle Isabel la Catolica 30, Centro Histórico, 06000 Mexico City WEB SITE STARTING PRICE $300/night

restaurant, and is filled with Laurel trees that offer shade to diners and in turn provide leafy foliage for the lobby and breakfast courtyard on the first floor above. In a second, smaller courtyard sits another popular restaurant, Padrinos, where a large living wall covers one entire side of the restaurant. Head upstairs to the mezzanine level and you’ll find a dozen or more shops, all dedicated to Mexican art, food, fashion and design. Walk up another flight of stairs and you’ll reach the hotel lobby and the 17 luxury hotel suites. Six of these rooms face the street outside and enjoy a small private balcony. They benefit from lots of natural light and a view but can be noisy. The remaining rooms open onto open-air courtyards. The rooms are simple but elegant with high brick ceilings, white cotton textiles and tiled floors. Some rooms feature the original palace walls, carved from red volcanic rock, and others are painted a dark shade of grey. The highlight for guests to Downtown, however, can be found on the third floor. When renovating the building a steel deck was added to the roof to create what has become something of a trademark of Grupo Habita hotels, a terrace and pool deck with views over the historic skyline. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay when you visit Mexico, then I would highly recommend going Downtown.

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Within sight of Piazza del Popolo and a block from the Tiber, the hotel is situated on an unassuming little street that happens to be within walking distance to most Rome’s major attractions. We didn’t take a taxi once! Inside, the hotel could be mistaken for an art gallery with contemporary sculpture and paintings illuminated by a majestic central skylight. Meander up to your room, admiring the thought provoking art along the way. With just 29 rooms and suites, the hotel feels intimate yet you can find exactly what you need. Choose the most economical Prestige Room or the most opulent Jacuzzi Suite, complete with your own private terrace jacuzzi, but make sure to request one facing the street so you can fling open your windows every morning and admire the hustle of Roman life down below. I was very happy with our Junior Suite, which had a separated sitting area and luxe granite bathroom. Each morning, we sipped on the complimentary in-room espresso as we plotted our day’s adventures. The included breakfast is above and beyond most hotel buffets. The freshly made pastries, homemade jams, fresh fruit and warm options left us properly nourished for a day of walking everywhere. The dinner at the

Acquolina attracts the well heeled, in-the-know Roman set and for good reason. The seafood at this Michelin starred restaurant is supposedly among the best in the whole city. What truly sets this hotel apart is its rooftop. The Acqua Roof allows guests to have an unmatched view of Rome, from above. We took in sun set over the Palatine Hill, and saw the Vatican light up at dusk. Lunch, dinner and drinks are all available up here. Order something because you will certainly want to linger. Pro Tip: Consider traveling to Rome in the off season (November - March). Not only will you get great rates at this hotel, but you will have easier access to restaurants, museums and all of Rome’s major sites. Our trip was in early January and there were much fewer tourists and more locals!

ADDRESS Via del Vantaggio, 14, 00186 Roma RM, Italy WEB SITE STARTING PRICE $500/night

Photos courtesy of Kelley Ferro

In Rome, age is relative. The 200-year-old The First Rome Arte hotel is just a baby in comparison to the 2800 years of history that is embedded in the city’s cobbled streets. This former nobleman’s palace wears its youth beautifully. The subtle staff and spacious suites make it feel as if this is your Roman home, and you have lived here all your life.



Photos courtesy of La Maison Favart


To stay at La Maison Favart in the Opera district of Paris is to step inside a life-size box of pastel macarons— lilac, lemon, pistachio macarons specifically. This boutique hotel offers affordable luxury and stylish suites for families that are steps from the city’s shopping districts. Our family suite, called the Mademoiselle Chantilly included a sleeper sofa in the living area and a queen bed in the sleeping area. There was not an actual door between the two areas. The bathroom, water closet, and ample built-in storage separate the two sleeping areas. The lobby is intimate and the front desk staff member and the bellman can help with any concierge services or recommendations since you will pass them and chat coming and going from the hotel. They were able to arrange hair appointments, for example, for my daughter and I, which the French call a brushing. The hotel’s amenities include a complimentary breakfast in a dainty salon that feels like an antique patisserie. The buffet was only slightly more than a continental breakfast with the addition of scrambled eggs.

The lower level of the hotel has a small pool area more suited for the spa experience than a game of Marco Polo with the kids. Within a short walking distance, families can explore the large Parisian department store Galleries La Fayette, and their food hall is a must. Children will want to look at every pastry option. Because the hues of the suite reminded me of macarons, I let my children get a sample box of Pierre Hermé creations. Be sure to try all of the seasonal flavors. Ladurée is the most known maker of macarons, but I encourage every family to try as many makers as possible. Place Vendome is also a short walk away for afternoon tea at the Ritz. Just beyond that is the Tulleriers Gardens and Louvre.

ADDRESS La Maison Favart 2019 - 5, rue de Marivaux - 75002 Paris WEB SITE STARTING PRICE $200/night

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Santa Teresa Hotel, Rio Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's most exciting cities. The beach life, soccer and non-stop samba beats are joyful rhythms that power the city day and night. Travelers needing a break from the Copacabana and Ipaneama scenes while looking for sophisticated service and a knockout city view will find it at the Santa Teresa M Gallery Hotel. The hotel takes its name from its Santa Teresa neighborhood, and is situated high above Rio. This luxury boutique hotel is a sanctuary that is a few steps removed from the humidity and busy streets of Brazil’s most vibrant city. Santa Teresa is a bohemian residential neighborhood with art galleries, studios, and winding streets that also include an urban railway. The Cosme Velho cog tram ferries passengers about two miles up the city's steep hills to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue that stands watch over Rio. Whether guests have arrived via cog tram, Uber or jet plane, a calm oasis of palm trees and tropical flowers awaits. The staff is friendly and helpful with any inquiry in either English and Portuguese, and impeccably dressed, even in the heat. There are only 44 apartments and suites in the Santa Teresa Hotel. All of them are spacious and beautifully decorated with contemporary art and native Brazilian hardwood, complete with seating areas and large en-suites.

WiFi is included in the stay, and is surprisingly fast even in the rooms furthest from the main lobby. The hotel is family-friendly, and children under 2 years of age are free. Guests can enjoy a leisurely breakfast overlooking the city skyline in the hotel’s restaurant. The Térèze restaurant offers a plentiful breakfast buffet in the morning, complete with freshly squeezed juices, baked breads and pastries, fresh tropical fruits, hot dishes and delicious Brazilian coffee. Dinners feature a menu of contemporary Brazilian and Latin American cuisine in a room decorated in tropical chic, illuminated by the night lights of Rio. The hotel’s courtyard compound is lush with rainforest trees and tropical flowers. The Santa Teresa features a beautiful swimming pool and small outdoor Jacuzzi, surrounded by brightly colored chaise loungers. The pool area has a small bar serving drinks and snacks, and is the perfect spot for relaxation, socialization, and toasting the panoramic view of Guanabara Bay with Brazil’s national drink, the caipirinha. Saude!

ADDRESS Rua Almirante Alexandrino 660, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil WEB SITE STARTING PRICE $300/night

Photos courtesy of Claudia Laroye


photo credit: Keryn Means/







Everything you need to know to start planning your trip to the Emerald Isle

7 castles in 7 days means you can start traveling even sooner than you thought possible this year

One of the most beautiful drives in the world just got a whole lot more accessible with this two-week itinerary

Unravel the mysteries of where to stay when you visit Ireland B&Bs, hotels and rentals

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IRELAND IS A COUNTRY THAT IS TAILOR MADE FOR FAMILIES SEEKING A MAGICAL VACATION. FEARLESS KNIGHTS CAN EXPLORE CASTLES FROM THE DARKEST DUNGEONS TO THE HIGHEST BATTLEMENTS. PRETTY PIXIES WILL FIND PROOF THAT FAERIES ARE REAL. THE LAND THAT INSPIRED C. S. LEWIS TO CREATE HIS MAGICAL NARNIA WILL CHARM YOUR FAMILY LIKE NO OTHER PLACE ON EARTH. BUT AN IRELAND FAMILY VACATION, DESPITE THE COUNTRY’S SMALL GEOGRAPHICAL SIZE, CAN PROVE AN OVERWHELMING TRIP TO PLAN. THERE IS JUST SO VERY MUCH TO SEE AND DO AND IT’S EASY TO GET OVERWHELMED. TAKEN ONE STEP AT A TIME, THESE TIPS WILL HELP YOU PLAN THE PERFECT IRELAND VACATION FOR YOUR UNIQUE FAMILY. DO rent a car. Yes, I know it’s a bit scary to think about driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. But it is really quite easy to manage if you have a good navigator and have a rough idea of your route beforehand. Just can’t imagine driving? Hire a reputable driver guide (I recommend Ireland Chauffeur Travel) for your own private tour of the country. DON'T try to ‘see it all’. The one thing that will ruin your Ireland vacation is too much driving and not enough doing. You will not miss places you didn’t see- but you may always regret leaving a location too soon, before you really had a chance to discover it.

DO choose a few ‘must visit’ sites and plan your itinerary around those. Choose activities and destinations based on what your family enjoys- not what others say you must see. After deciding on your ‘must visit’ sites, find other fun activities in the area to pad your itinerary, always keeping in mind that you may not experience everything. DON'T skip an attraction or activity because it seems ‘too touristy’. Tourist sites and activities are popular because they are good. Prime examples of this are a jaunting cart ride in Killarney National Park, the boat ride to see Fungi the Dolphin in Dingle Bay, and a special visit to Blarney Castle.

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DO spend an evening in the local pub. Ireland and pubs go together like fish and chips. You really can’t fully experience one without the other. The Irish Public House (or pub) is a community gathering place. A place to relax, enjoy the craic, and (hopefully) catch some live music.

DO try new foods. Irish food had a bit of a bad reputation for many years, but that has changed. You can expect fresh, hyper-local ingredients on most local menus. Lamb is sourced from the farm down the road, and fish from the sea right out the door.

Practice good pub etiquette: Know that few pubs have table service; you’ll be ordering from the bar. And always ask if there is a time kids need to leave. Most village pubs will leave that to you – as long as children are well behaved they can stay as long as you like.

Each area of Ireland has its own flavor. Independent butchers will have their own recipe for black and white pudding, for example. Buttered eggs are a specialty in Cork. And each restaurant serves local goats’ cheese differently. Go outside your comfort zone and try something new.

DON'T shy away from B&B’s, hostels, or self-catering cottages. Accommodation in Ireland are as varied as the landscape. Try choosing a comfy B&B one night, followed by a self-catering cottage or family-friendly hostel for a few days to save money, then splurge on a five star resort or castle stay for a night or two.

A truly magical Ireland vacation is a very personal thing, not a ‘one size fits all’ itinerary cobbled together by a stranger. Even if you do use a planning service, be active in that planning and make that trip your own as much as possible. Follow the road less traveled and discover the magic of Ireland.

A QUICK GUIDE TO IRELAND ACCOMMODATIONS Ireland vacation lodging is as varied as the landscape. From hostels perched on the wild Atlantic cliffs to royal castles with every imaginable luxury, you will find accommodation options for every traveler. Most people find themselves somewhere in between the two extremes, and Ireland has everything on offer, from hostels and hotels, cottages and castles, and, of course, the warm Irish welcome at a bed & breakfast.

Which Irish Accommodation is Right for You? HOTEL Choose a hotel stay for the experience, be it for pampering, the chance to sleep like royalty, or acres of land. Know what is and is not included in your stay and if anything is unclear, inquire before you book. Insider tip: Irish hotels offer room-only rates as well as B&B rates. And if you plan to use the creche or kids club verify it is open during your stay. The Dunloe in Killarney, County Kerry features extra-large family rooms and incredible extras.

CASTLE HOTEL All castle hotels aren’t created equal, so be sure to do your homework! Some only include the word castle due to their proximity to a local ruin. Others may have a few rooms in the castle while another nearby building provides more lodging. Insider tip: a castle stay in Ireland is truly a splurge. Room prices will vary but expect to spend at least €600 per night, often double that. Lough Eske Castle in County Donegal has interior adjoining rooms perfect for families!

IRISH BED & BREAKFAST No two Irish B&Bs are alike, but they all include a personal touch that can make your Ireland vacation magical. Consider the B&B owner your host, tour guide and restaurant critic. Insider tip: Many B&Bs have family rooms and will have cots (pack & play) available for young children. The Old Bank B&B in Bruff, County Limerick has large family rooms and adjoining rooms for families.

VACATION RENTALS A vacation rental, holiday home, or self-catering property is a terrific option for larger families and groups. The most enjoyable part of renting an Irish vacation home is feeling like part of the community. You’ll experience things you might normally miss, like grocery shopping, relaxing in 'your own' garden, and trying your hand at cooking Irish cuisine. We love self-catering stays for the large amount of space and the ability to truly relax without worry of bothering other guests. Insider tip: some resorts and castle hotels offer vacation rentals on their properties. This is a fabulous way to enjoy the amenities of the location while spending less. Mount Falcon Estate in County Mayo features incredible vacation rentals in multiple sizes and layouts. The Woodland Cottages are amazing!

HOSTELS While hostels are becoming more family friendly, this type of accommodation requires careful consideration. Be sure to do your research and steer clear of hostels that focus on hen or stag parties and large groups. Look for family rooms with ensuite baths. And read the reviews carefully before booking. Insider tip: not all hostels provide linens so be sure to read the descriptions and amenities carefully! The Connemara Hostel in County Galway adjacent to the Killary Adventure Centre and has family rooms that can sleep two adults with up to five children.


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TRAINS Train travel in Ireland is great if you plan to explore urban areas, as it connects Dublin to a few cities and larger towns. But if you want to explore outside the town at all, be prepared to walk or rent a bike. Out of larger cities you may even find day tours of popular destinations like the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, or Giant’s Causeway. If you plan to take the train and rent a car at your destination be sure that option is available (there are many places it won’t be). SELF DRIVE Renting a car and driving in Ireland is the easiest way to control where you go and what you see. Be sure you understand how car rental insurance works in Ireland and arrange it in advance. Most rental cars in Ireland are manual transmission. If you can’t drive a ‘stick shift’ be sure to reserve an automatic.

A good rule of thumb when choosing a car is to rent the smallest vehicle you can. Petrol is expensive and country roads are narrow. Research the vehicle options and be realistic about the luggage space you will need. DRIVER GUIDE For the flexibility of a self-drive vacation with no worries, hire a driver guide. A good driver guide service will let you help plan your itinerary to suit your family’s interests and vacation goals. Then you sit back and enjoy the scenery while someone else navigates! I use and recommend Ireland Chauffeur Travel ( Their driver guides are certified by Tourism Ireland and their luxury vehicles are incredibly comfortable. When inquiring be sure to mention code IRFV2019 to receive my exclusive five percent discount and receive a picnic hamper of goodies to enjoy during your road trip.


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ACHILL ISLAND 2-3 DAYS: Northwest of Westport, you will find Achill Island. This unassuming spot is overlooked by many roadtrippers, as it takes you off the path to Northern Island, but the beaches filled with white sand and blue waters, ancient ruins and a distinct natural beauty are just three reasons to detour to the island for a day or more.

We all want to see as much of Ireland as possible, but how do you go about seeing one of Ireland's most famous drives in just two weeks? Here's one way to see the Wild Atlantic Way without rushing through every site you want to see and still sneaking in 'vacation' time.

CLIFDEN 2-3 DAYS: Clifden is the best place to set up when you want to explore Connemara and Kylemore Abbey and the rugged coastline to the north.





2 DAYS: Cliffs of Moher anyone? Yup. We thought so, but you will also want to visit the Burren for a day, which is why we give Doolin at least two days.




DINGLE 4 DAYS: You could easily spend a week just wandering around the town of Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula. Slea Head Drive can take up two full days. Book surf lessons at Inch Beach, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Pax House, our favorite B&B in the area.

Connemara National Park is one of Ireland's most rugged landscapes that is reminiscent of the Scottish moors that so many traipse across the pond to experience. Plan on hiking at least two days in this national treasure.



RING OF KERRY 3 DAYS: The Ring of Kerry should not be rushed. Explore Killarney National Park and the town of Killarney for a day each and drive the ring over two days.

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DAY 1 After depositing bags at your accommodations utilize a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour to learn the history and layout of the city. Hop off at Phoenix Park, once the King’s hunting grounds. Search for the herd of red deer, ancestors of the deer from long ago. Back in the city centre visit the Museum of Ireland Archaeology to view the Bog Bodies in the Kingship & Sacrifice exhibit. Be sure to pick up free activity sheets in the rotunda and ‘dig’ through Irish history. Wander toward Grafton Street (be sure to stop if something interests you!) to watch the buskers (before dark). Have a few Euro to tip the ones you like best! Note: Grafton Street is VERY busy so keep everyone close. Exit Grafton Street at Wicklow Street and get ice cream at Murphy’s. This handmade ice cream from Dingle uses local ingredients. Try unique Irish flavors like Dingle Sea Salt and Caramelized Brown Bread before choosing your favorite. Explore St. Stephen’s Green while eating ice cream. Enjoy an evening of Irish food, music, and dancing at Celtic Nights Dinner & Show. Book the 6:30pm show. Older children may enjoy an Evening of Food, Folklore, and Fairies (not suitable for children under six) at the Brazen Head Pub.

DAY 2 Enjoy a big Irish breakfast before heading out to learn about the Vikings who settled in Ireland at Dublinia. Exiting Viking Dublin you cross to Christchurch Cathedral. Find the Cat and the Rat in the catacombs. After lunch cross the River Liffey and make your way to the docks. You’ll see the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship, a replica famine ship. Tour her if you like, but be sure to visit EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum, on the other side of the street. This incredibly interactive museum guides you through the story of Irish emigrants across the world. Discover where they went and stamp your passport along the way. (Plan two hours minimum; I promise the kids won’t get bored!) Forgo dinner tonight in favor of afternoon tea. The best kid-friendly teas are found at the Castleknock Hotel near Phoenix Park and The Shelbourne Hotel at St. Stephen’s Green. Booking is essential. Enjoy your early evening in one of the parks before heading back to your hotel.

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Whether you’re traveling to Ireland on your second (third, fourth) trip or you just want to avoid the crowds, these alternates to Ireland’s most popular attractions will give you all the experiences without all the people. BY JODY HALSTED • IRELANDFAMILYVACATIONS.COM

The natural beauty of the Ring of Kerry has drawn visitors for hundreds of years, but if you wish to escape the crowds on Ireland’s most popular foreland, head north to Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula. Follow the dramatic coastline to the magnificent Grianan of Aileach (itself a terrific alternative to the Rock of Cashel), incredible Fort Dunree Military Museum, and Doagh Famine Village, before reaching Ireland’s most northerly point at Malin Head. Be sure to drive slowly through the Mamore Gap to discover one of Ireland’s ‘Magic Roads’.

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The majestic ruin of Blarney Castle is famed for its stone, but if it’s a castle you wish to explore, plan a visit to Cahir Castle in the neighboring county of Tipperary. The wonderfully restored castle is one of the most accessible in Ireland. Explore below the bailey and onto the battlements, climb to the top of the keep and stand below the portcullis. Very little is off limits and you’ll rarely find more than a handful of people wandering the grounds.

While Dublin may be the ‘fair city’, Derry (officially Londonderry) is the gem of Northern Ireland. The only completely walled city in Ireland, Derry is a city of culture and contrast. History here is complex and sometimes heartbreaking...the story of Ireland on a small scale. To guide you along the walls and through the history of this lovely city I recommend Glenn Doherty of Derry Guided Tours. His walks are so informative and he can make the tours kid-friendly (if requested.)

There is no denying that the house and gardens of Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow are beautiful – and being an easy day trip from Dublin the estate draws many visitors. Venture inland, to County Offaly, where beautiful Birr Castle Demense offers just a bit more for families. In addition to creating stunning gardens, the Earls of Rosse were inquisitive scientists. The onsite science museum shares two centuries of scientific achievements, including bridges, submarines, photography, botany…and the world’s largest telescope (built in the

mid-1800s the Leviathan held the title for over 70 years). Did I mention that this is also the home of Ireland’s largest tree house? On Clare’s west coast, the Cliffs of Moher have enticed visitors and Hollywood with their staggering drops and extensive views. Few know that the Slieve League Cliffs in Donegal rise higher. Be sure to wear good walking shoes as the best views are found as you walk to the high top of the mountain exploring the early Christian ruins and rugged wilderness as you pass.

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7 CASTLES IN 7 DAYS By Jody Halsted •


After arriving in Dublin this morning and collecting your rental car it is only a short 15 minute drive to your first castle. The kids will love playing on the expansive grounds at Malahide Castle while Mom and Dad will enjoy wandering the garden paths. Dating back to 1185, and remaining in the same family for the entire 800 years it was occupied, Malahide Castle is filled with incredible history and stories that will take your breath away. Take time for a castle tour – you may even have a meeting with one of the resident ghosts. After dining on airplane food for the past eight hours, you’re probably ready for a good meal. The visitor centre at Malahide Castle is home to an Avoca Café and Foodhall – one of the most delicious places to eat. My advice: select a few of the tasty takeout options and enjoy your first meal in Ireland on the Demense grounds of Malahide Castle. From Malahide you can choose to take the train into Dublin city (don’t drive in Dublin!), or explore the charming seaside villages of Skerries (which has another incredible castle) or Howth. STAY: Evergreen Malahide B&B. Olive is a fabulous hostess and her breakfast will have you set for the day’s explorations.

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ITINERARY NOTES: This magical itinerary is perfect for families with children under 10 (or anyone who loves castles!) • You'll fly into Dublin airport and depart from Shannon airport, but it can be altered for arrival & departure at either. • You will need a car for this itinerary, so be sure to reserve one in advance of arrival. Get more itineraries on

Ross Castle

Malahide Castle



Kilkenny Castle is like a fairy tale, the rooms fully decorated in period, though not original, furnishings. The tour here is self-guided and docents are available in each room to answer any questions you may have.

Today’s drive takes you through County Tipperary and past (bonus castle) Cahir Castle, the second largest Norman castle in Ireland. Cahir Castle sits on an island in the River Suir. Enjoy the pathways that overlook the old ornamental gardens where you may catch a glimpse of foxes.

The medieval city of Kilkenny is an easy two-hour drive from Malahide. You might consider a stop at the (bonus castle) Rock of Dunamase, a powerful ruin set atop a stony outcropping in County Laois.

Kilkenny has plenty to keep your family busy. Consider a Medieval Mile Pass (available at Kilkenny Castle or any of the included attractions) for entry into local attractions as well as guided tours on the Kilkenny road trains, a cycling treasure hunt, and the ghost tour (if you dare). Do be sure to visit the Medieval Mile Museum in the ancient St. Mary’s Church and climb the 9th century round tower at St. Canice’s Cathedral, one of only two in the country that can be scaled. STAY: Butler House. Once the dower house of Kilkenny Castle, you’ll find spacious family rooms with castle and garden views.

Kilkenny Castle

Blarney Castle

The route from Kilkenny to Cork will take approximately two hours, plus any stops you make.

Blarney Castle may be known for its famed stone, but there is so much more to this castle and its grounds. Make the extra purchase of a Souvenir Audio Guide; it's filled with stories and information that kids will love. After gaining your ‘gift of gab’ from the Blarney Stone, the incredible gardens await. The Poison Garden is filled with herbs of both healing and destruction; Harry Potter fans will be enthralled. Enter the Rock Close to stand beneath a Megalithic Dolmen, navigate the wishing steps, or find magic in the Fairy Glade.

Muckross House

STAY: Fitzgerald’s Vienna Woods Hotel. Family guest rooms are spacious and villa rentals are also available.

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It’s a quick 90 minutes to Killarney along the N22, also known as the ‘sculpture road’, so watch the roadside as you enter Kerry. Killarney is the very center of tourism in County Kerry. Situated at the edge of fabulous Killarney National Park, you won’t run out of fun activities and the charming town is filled with tasty dining options and wonderful shops. In the park, on the edge of Lough Leane (the Lake of Learning) is Ross Castle. You can arrive at the castle on foot or by bike, but I highly recommend hiring a jaunting cart and enjoying the charming narration as you take in the beautiful parklands. Plan at least two days in this area, though you could spend a week and not run out of fun activities. Suggestions in Killarney and the surrounding peninsulas: Drive to Muckross House and Gardens. Tour the house and the Traditional Farms or just wander the beautiful grounds. Wander to Muckross Abbey where many of Ireland’s High Kings are buried.


Your route today will take you through Adare, oft-called the prettiest village in Ireland, to arrive in Limerick in two hours. King John’s Castle is an imposing fortress in the heart of Limerick City. Interactive displays take visitors back to the time when Vikings inhabited Limerick. Ghostly projections share tales of siege and warfare, 3D models connect you to a time long past, and rooms of discovery will keep your kids entranced with history. Entering the courtyard takes you into a medieval campaign where knights plan attacks while blacksmiths forge armor and horseshoes. King John's Castle

Enjoy the views at Torc Waterfall and Ladies’ View. Rent a bicycle, hire a jaunting cart, or walk through the Gap of Dunloe. Do not drive through the Gap. Take a day trip to the Dingle Peninsula. The coastlines are beautiful and you’ll find incredible history to explore like the Gallarus Oratory and beehive huts. Dingle also has an incredible aquarium and its most famous resident is a dolphin named Fungi who you can visit by boat. Head out the Ring of Kerry, but detour off this popular route for the smaller Skellig Ring. Views of the Skellig islands (the Star Wars islands) from atop windblown cliffs await. Tip: driving the Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring can be difficult due to traffic volume and very narrow roads. Consider hiring a driver for this day trip. Fly a falcon at Killarney Falconry. Enjoy Murphy’s Ice Cream. The main shop is in Dingle, but you’ll find a shop in Killarney, too. No one will judge you if you enjoy it daily. STAY: The Dunloe. A fantastical family paradise with extralarge family suites, gentle horses, a massive adventure playground, and summer movie nights.


You can’t plan a castle tour of Ireland without spending at least a couple of nights in a castle! Sleep your final two nights in Ireland at one of these incredible locations. We promise you won't be sorry, and your friends will be just a little bit jealous. Knappogue Castle: You’ll be treated like royalty in these private accommodations. Yes, it’s your own private castle! Medieval Banquets are held in the dining hall in the evenings from April through October. Dromoland Castle: This five-star castle hotel offers a luxury stay as well as activities like falconry, archery, and horseback riding. Dromoland Castle


Bunratty Castle is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland. Built in 1425, it was restored and is now filled with 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries, and art. Follow the spiral stone stairs from dungeons to battlements and see how knights and ladies lived 500 years ago! The castle is surrounded by the Folk Park, a small village that represents how the Irish lived through the centuries. You’ll find cottages from across Ireland, as well as a school, post office, printers, and even a traditional Irish Pub where you can enjoy lunch. Animals, play areas, fairy forest, and gardens make this a perfect family day in Ireland. Bunratty Castle



Every trip to Ireland begins with a story, whether you have family who emigrated from there, you are a rabid Game of Thrones fan or you just love a great lamb stew.

Granuaile: Pirate Queen by Morgan Llywelyn A young reader novel written by Morgan Llywelyn takes place in the sixteenth century and shares the wild story of Granuaile the Pirate Queen, the most feared woman in Ireland. The fiction novel includes many historically accurate events and prominent figures. Ideal for grade levels 4-6.

More often than not, you have heard about leprechauns, fairies and will-o-the-wisps; all tales passed down through generations and written into Irish books.

Fiona's Luck by Teresa Bateman and Kelly Murph Fiona’s Luck is a delightful tale about a Leprechaun King who has locked away all the luck in Ireland. Travel along with Fiona has she outwits the king and restores luck to the land! Tales for Telling: Irish Folk and Fairy Tales by Edna O’Brien Tales for the Telling: Irish Folk and Fairytales is a book filled with 12 stories featuring mythical creatures, ancient magic and traditional Irish folk and fairy tales. The brilliant illustrations help bring the stories alive and will be sure to captivate the entire family. Fionn MacCumhail's Tales from Ireland by Eddie Lenihan


Part of Miroslav Sasek's series of classic children's books, This Is Ireland features beautiful illustrations and whimsical tales of the historically rich country.

Fionn MacCumhail’s Tales from Ireland is a book of tales featuring some of Ireland's most popular ancient heroes. The "hair-raising" stories capture a time when creatures of night walked the earth and magic was everywhere. Perfect for older children!

Patrick and the President by Ryan Tubridy and P.J. Lynch A delightful picture book based on President John F. Kennedy's visit to County Wexford, Ireland in 1963. Patrick and the President is narrated through the eyes of a young boy named Patrick who dreams of shaking the president's hand. The story is historically accurate and includes a timeline of his four day visit. Tales from Old Ireland by Malachy Doyle and Niamh Sharkey Tales From Old Ireland is a whimsical collection of famous Irish folk tales. The magical stories are brought to life not only through written word but with the beautiful illustrations by Niamh Sharkey. Perfect for families to enjoy together! Let's See Ireland! by Sarah Bowie Let's See Ireland! is a delightful picture book featuring some of the famous sights in Ireland. Molly, her parents, and her cat Mipsy tour the country, visiting the Dublin Zoo, Cork City and many others.

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My husband was incredibly proud of himself for planning our entire multigenerational trip to Norway. It was a new country for all of us; my mother-in-law, toddler, and infant included. And with it came a variety of setbacks we have never encountered before. What should have been a week of fun and fjords quickly turned into days of chaos and croup. It started with our nine-month old contracting pink eye the night before we flew out. From there, throw in airfare booked for the wrong dates, two more rounds of pink eye for everyone, a nasty upper respiratory illness that struck both my toddler and myself, cancelled family photography sessions, and our Airbnb host not putting the apartment key where he claimed he did (thus leaving all of us locked out in the literal freezing cold) and you get the gist of our trip.

If there is a silver lining to the multiple pharmacy visits and missed Viking-themed activities, it’s that we discovered how resilient our young children are. Between the fevers and snotty noses, we were still able to explore some of Oslo’s incredible museums and restaurants. I also thoroughly enjoyed traveling with a grandparent. The extra set of hands was priceless. In the end, my toddler and I were too sick to travel on our intended date of departure. At the urging of our traveling doctor (AKA my mother-in-law), we turned lemons into lemonade by extending our trip by three days to give us time to recover and see more of Oslo. The takeaways? If you have a doctor for a grandparent, invite them on your international trip. Or at the very least, make sure you get travel insurance before your vacation. In our case, we're glad we did both.

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