Growing up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada one almost takes going to Niagara Falls for granted -what an absolute magnificent experience it is. It’s a trip you do with your family, your school and when anyone comes to visit you. I’ve been so many times I couldn’t begin to list them and although I love it every time I see it. I never grow old of waiting in line with my poncho for the ride on the Maid of the Mist (The ferry ride underneath the falls). Or the walk right along the edge that makes me feel a little dizzy at the power of the rushing water flowing over the edge.
My daughter just got back from a school trip there. It was her fifth trip. She still loved it. It’s an amazing place. If you can get a room overlooking the falls for a spectacular view then that is great but not necessary. You will have plenty of time to walk around and take in the sights.
In my opinion, don’t stay for the tourist traps in the area unless you love that stuff. They are over priced and full of tourists. See the falls and get out of town. If you have time go to a little town about 35 minutes away called Niagara on the Lake and spend a week. It’s worth your time. Check out it’s website.
I couldn’t wait to see Tiger Kingdom. The little kid dream of seeing a tiger up close. When I saw that Thailand had several places one could visit with Tigers I knew I would go. I read the reviews. I read about responsible tourism. I debated myself about whether I should go. In the end, I knew I had to go. I had to see it for myself. I had to have the experience.
Tiger Kingdom was well managed and clean. Much like many zoos one goes to the tigers are in pens. The tigers on display have larger areas to roam and I saw no evidence that they were drugged. On the contrary, they were active and engaged in play with the handlers. They had toys, games and other activities to keep them busy. Nocturnal by nature, some tigers were asleep but would occasionally get up to wander.
My kids were not allowed in with the largest tigers. My son stayed with the babies. He got to bottle feed them. My daughter enjoyed two different sizes. We encountered the largest. Following our guide, he stated that we were to stay with him at all times, not make sudden movements and to stay behind him. Equipped with only a large prod, it was clear there was little he was join to do if our tiger decided to turn. We went in and our Tiger was might and magnificent. He lay down, head raised and we were guided to sit beside him. We could rub his side, touch his back and paws. Another guide took pictures. Anything our guide said, we did. At one point he said to lie down and put my head on it’s belly and I did. I kept thinking how My mother would kill me if she saw me doing this. All of a sudden, he jumped up and lunged at the cage in front of us a wheel chair went by. Clearly he saw the wheels turn and wanted to play or attack them. He paced back and forth watching the oblivious person in the wheelchair. We backed away.
We walked around to several other tigers. Each one allowing us to visit and touch them. One sleeping tiger was our guides favorite and he showed us his huge teeth. It was about then that I snapped back into reality and realized I was in a cage surrounded by tigers.
I have since recommended Tiger Kingdom to friends. Yet, I do so with reservation. Please understand that I truly believe in responsible tourism and the importance of understanding what it is you are impacting when visiting places like this. It is also important to truly take time to understand the plight of the tiger.
So if you do visit, or just find this blog post interesting. Please take time to help the Tigers.
Las Vegas has a lot to offer families. Granted that our first family trip was immediately after a week of rafting in the Grand Canyon and we were very happy to just see showers and beds so Vegas looked like heaven.
Vegas is definitely sensory overload even if you aren’t coming from a week off the grid. People watching is better than almost anywhere else in the world. That aside, there is so much for families to do that you won’t even realize that you never saw a bar or spent time in a casino while you are there.
My top family events are:
Cirque de Soleil (Any of the shows are great- Beatles LOVE is awesome)
Stratosphere Hotel Thrill Rides (Crazy rides on top of the hotel)
Serendipity Restaurant- Kids will love their Frozen Hot Chocolate while watching the people on the strip
Bellagio Fountains- Watch them dance https: //www.bellagio.com/attractions/fountains-of-bellagio.aspx
Mac King Magic Show- The best magic show in Vegas. http://www.mackingshow.com
Zombie Apocalypse Store: My kids love the zombie craze and this store was ready to outfit anyone with everyone for the coming apocalypse. We could have spent a week there. http://zombieapocalypsestore.com
#52 Visit Red Rocks Amphitheater:
I’m a music lover and I seek out live music wherever we are traveling. Some venues are as famous as the performers who visit them. A highlight of traveling across the United States was finally visiting one of those – Red Rocks Amphitheater. I’ve wanted to visit this amazing place since I watched U2’s iconic “Sunday Bloody Sunday” performance from the concert film U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky. We happened to be passing through there just before Mumford and Sons filmed “I Will Wait For You” at the same site. Although decades apart, you can see magic of Red Rocks continues when you watch these two performances. Visiting this place, even if you can’t catch a live show, is impressive. The amphitheater is open for visitors and attracts folks regularly for sightseeing and exercise. Just considering the historic past shows and the list of upcoming acts will be fun for music lovers. It’s a great hike and kids will love wandering around the seats. Go see it. Better yet…get tickets!
U2 Live at Red Rocks http://youtu.be/dL6FPMjZhAc
Mumford and Sons At Red Rocks http://youtu.be/rGKfrgqWcv0
#55 Visit Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is my suggested “must stop” for people traveling down the coast and looking for the quintessential “American Southern town”. It has everything that makes for a fabulous vacation or a place to just stop and stay awhile. The city itself is vibrant and exciting. It’s got a great art scene, fabulous food, lots of history and fabulous shopping. Walk the streets and you’ll find something new every time you go. Be sure to visit the Historic City. Take a ghost tour and or a carriage ride along the battery to learn about the city’s history.
There are plenty of water sports to be had. Kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing is everywhere. You can get up close with manatee,dolphin, gators and other wildlife. Catch shark or big game fish. (Catch and release)
Nothing beats Charleston South Carolina for some great food. From classic Southern dishes like fried chicken to She Crab soup and other coastal favorites Charleston has amazing restaurants and local haunts that makes dining a delight. The best part is there are plenty of places that are perfect for families and won’t break the bank.
Travelers going to burning man or just interested in a very cool art project check out “Love Letter to The World” by artists Kurt and Kremena of Lexington, Kentucky. Following the huge success of the Lexington Tattoo Project, Love Letter to the world is a “video artwork that combines poetry, tattoos, music, photography, spoken word, storytelling, and global connections.”
Check it out or become part of it.
Our family just returned from a huge family reunion at the beach planned by our 93 year old Grandmother. There is no better place to spend a weeks vacation with that many kinfolk than Isle of Palms, South Carolina. The Wild Dunes beach resort has homes right along the beach and boardwalk so families can easily walk to each other’s houses, kids can meet at the beach to surf or play in the pools, everyone can walk down to the bar and meet for drinks and music or gather at ones house for games.
We played croquet and cornhole. Took drives to Charleston and Sullivan Island to eat. Had a wonderful sunset boat tour and low country boil. We even had opportunities to kayak with dolphin and manatee.
There is something for everyone at the beach and our group aged 2-93. This was an opportunity of a lifetime to spend a week all together. A true gift. It Probably could have been anywhere but Isle of Palms was perfect!
One of the most amazing experiences I have ever had was in the Galapagos Islands. The Marine iguana is truly one of the strangest animals. Seeing these cold blooded creatures come in at the end of the day swimming into shore and piling onto the rocks is something I will never forget. Seeing one swim by me was such a shock. It’s hard to believe these animals can swim. I even watched them leap from a cliff into the ocean. Everything about the Galapagos Islands makes for an amazing family experience but be sure to add meeting these marine iguanas to your bucket list!