Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Traveling With Kids

Magical Places to Take the Kids This Winter

I’m all about traveling articles, as you can tell on my blog–parenting, traveling, fun, self-esteem. Anyway, this contributed article has some good ideas for parents if you are looking for a winter getaway, whether you live in the United States or overseas:

It’s almost winter, and the cold will soon blow in with such force that you may have forgotten summer ever existed. And although you may be longing for the days where you could take the kids down to the beach for an ice cream, winter can be just as fun if you look in the right places. Here are some ideas for magical places to take the kids this winter.

  1. Northern Lights

Where: Finnish Lapland

The Northern Lights are probably one of the most spectacular natural sights you will ever see in the world. And winter is the ideal time to visit them. Why not take the kids up to Lapland where they can meet Santa and feed reindeer, and finish off the trip by taking in the view of the Northern Lights? It will be a magical experience for everyone, and it may get them interested in science.

You may be wondering: are the Northern Lights only in winter? The simple answer is no. They are active throughout the year; however if you really want to see the best possible view of them, winter is a better time to do it because the nights are dark and long.

  1. Chase The Sun

Where: Greek Islands

If you simply hate the thought of leaving the summer behind, and if winter really doesn’t agree with you, you can still experience the sun, sea and sand in other parts of the world. Escape the freezing temperatures this week and book yourself a flight to Greece. You’ll be able to relive your summer days before coming home for Christmas. Rent a villa for the whole family, and let the kids enjoy one last taste of summer before the cold hits.

  1. Christmas Markets

Where: Edinburgh

There’s no better way to get you and the kids in that festive spirit than to take some time to visit the Christmas Markets. There are plenty of locations all across Europe, which hold these markets; but Edinburgh is one of the best. You’ll be able to see the whole capital transform into a winter wonderland with stalls, massive Christmas trees and shows in the street. Let the kids have fun walking around and trying different meats, cheeses and sweets as they get excited for Santa.

  1. A Walk on the Wild Side

Where: Galápagos

It might seem a little odd to think about going to this tropical island during the winter, but it can be a great experience for the whole family; and you will come face to face with some of the most amazing wildlife in the world. It is the home of the Galápagos tortoise and is overflowing with animals and beautiful views.  

  1. Disneyworld

Where: Orlanda, Florida

If you want to really put that festive spark in your child’s eyes, then there is nowhere more fitting to visit at this time of the year than Disneyworld. You’ll be able to enjoy the rides, meet Disney characters and watch Christmas shows throughout December. There’s nowhere more fitting to spend winter at with your kids.

kid photo above

 

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Scandinavia: The Ultimate Family Winter Getaway?

contributed article

If you get the chance to go away in winter, you have two basic choices: either run away from the cold or embrace it. And one of the best places on earth to enjoy a winter vacation with the kids is, without doubt, Scandinavia. It’s a beautiful part of the world at the best of times; but when the cold season and snow arrive, it becomes quite magical. Here are some ideas for you to ponder over if you plan on a breakaway this – or next – holiday season!

Live it up in Lapland

Lapland – in the very northernmost part of Finland – is one of the best winter family snow destinations, for all the reasons you are probably thinking right now. It’s about as close to Narnia as you can get, regarding scenery, and of course, there is a significant connection with the Father Christmas story. But there’s more to this glorious part of the world than just Santa and snow-capped trees. Riding a husky-driven sled or going on a reindeer sleigh ride is about as exhilarating as it gets for you and the kids, and you can go even faster if you want to swap dogs for an engine and a snowmobile. There’s plenty of skiing options, too, and let’s not forget about the Northern Lights – a spectacular attraction for this part of the world and perfect if you get the chance to take some time out for yourself.

Akureyri, Iceland

Iceland is more famous for its capital Reykjavik. But if you are looking for something a little different, Akureyri is an excellent alternative. It’s a small city that takes in plenty of culture and leisure and is an exceptional choice for either a city break or week-long trip when you need to keep the kids entertained. Make sure you go to watch whales in Husavik, and check out the remarkable and impressive lava fields, too. There are some stunning geothermal mud pools to locate: head out to the Lake Myvatn area for some magnificent views. Finally, if you need any other reason to head to Iceland in the winter months, as it’s one of the best locations in the world for seeing the spectacular Northern Lights.

Stay in A Swedish Ice Hotel

Want to give the kids a unique experience they will remember forever? Sweden is such an incredible place in the winter; but if you make the trip over, dedicate some time to finding one of their spectacular ice hotels. There are plenty around, up and down the country; but if you make your way up to Jukkasjarvi, you’ll find the somewhat simply named Ice Hotel. It’s incredibly popular, so book a fair while in advance. Jukkasjarvi is in the northern half of Sweden and is a fantastic location to visit during the winter months. The vast forests and woods are filled with bears and wolves – you’ll rarely spot them, but they are there! – and there’s a real sense of being somewhere that is 100% otherworldly.

Have you been to Scandinavia – or any other location for a winter break? Share your thoughts and favorite places with everyone in the comments section below! 

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5 Best Kid Friendly Places To Eat In London

Guest post by Scott Caruthers

5 Best Kid Friendly Places To Eat In London

Getting a restaurant that accommodates you and your kids can be rare, but while in London, you have a number of options you could go for that will not force you to sacrifice on style. The city offers a plethora of spots that are ideal for the whole family. You also have restaurants that are designed to accommodate adults yet offer kids an ample environment for adventure and entertainment.

  1. Abeno Too

Located along Great Newport Street, the Abeno Too restaurant is rated good for the whole family. It gives you the most famous street food from Osaka. The specialty dominant is the okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese savory pancake that kids and adults alike will enjoy. Part of the fun is in ordering the dishes, which you can do in a hot plate in front of you. Kids will particularly enjoy the finishes, including bonito flakes, which flicker in the rising heat. Additionally, there is enough space for kids who love moving about, so you will have a comfortable retreat while at the restaurant, and most important is to note the environment is calm and ideal for family eat outs.

  1. Bistrotheque

If you want to prove you could still handle a hip meal, the Bistrotheque restaurant presents you with an ample opportunity to explore. Its welcome services are friendly, and you will find a level of professionalism that is not found in any other East End restaurant. Most important to note is the setting that allows you to have your children around, and this is extended into the types of meals offered to ensure your kids also get a chance to enjoy the best from the experienced chefs.

The menu leans more on French cuisine with foods like cheeseburger and treacle tart. On weekend brunches, the restaurant offers pancakes laced with bacon. On an overall scale, the restaurant is reliable and fun-inducing that it has become one of the most ideal choices among those with children.

  1. Dinerama

If you are looking to have fun with your family during a night out for some great meals, this is the restaurant to choose while in London. The atmosphere is what you would want to enjoy while with your kids tagged along and food wise it offers something to eat for everyone. It’s an all impressive spot for food while in London, and your kids will feel at ease as there are amenities meant to keep them entertained. The menu is filled with awesome options including cheeky Italian meals. Enjoy good vibes as you drown a bottle of tasty wine and some unique meals prepared to your satisfaction. Most important is they allow custom recipes that can help you choose what to eat.

  1. The Lacy Nook

Located in Stoke Newington, The Lacy Nook is a restaurant whose goal is to not only offer you tasty dishes, but also ensure your family is equally accommodated to enjoy the ample environment. It offers plates that are full of distinctive tastes and personality that you will find awesome. The chefs are focused on seasonal foods, so there is going to be plenty of options to choose from, especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan. Kids are also accommodated perfectly with various amenities for their enjoyment and snacks to trigger their happiness.

  1. Mr Bao

The restaurant offers squidgy Taiwanese steamed buns that come easy for tiny hands, and there are also weekend dishes, like bao Benedict, which are irresistible to kids. For young families, you will find the staff welcoming and friendly, which is something that will help your children to feel comfortable around the restaurant. The restaurant offers beautiful Asian food that is focused on the fluffy bao bun. They offer a range of plates to share and delicious cocktails, and this is besides serving a fantastic brunch during the weekends. You could even sit as you watch your food as it is prepared in the kitchen.

Scott Caruthers is a travel and photography expert who has been reviewing destinations and London is among cities he has been to several times. He has helped identify some of the best restaurants in London that are perfectly configured to accommodate kids.

 

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Don’t Let Physical Distance Drive a Wedge Between Loved Ones

contributed article

People living in modern society often have to move around the country at some point during their lives. That could happen because they meet someone special, but it might also occur when the individual seeks a better job. Thanks to modern technology, there is no reason that physical distance should cause families to lose touch with each other these days. Any readers with family members who live more than a hundred miles away should benefit from the advice on this page. It’s vital that everyone works hard to keep in touch because family, friends and loved ones are important.

Send written letters with photographs

Lots of folks send emails or texts these days when they want to communicate. While they are cheap and efficient methods, there can be something sterile about receiving a typed message. With that in mind, family members should try their best to send handwritten letters to their loved ones whenever possible. The recipient will appreciate the effort, and it’s likely to mean more to them. That is especially the case if people remember to include photographs of their children. Experts from Silver Bee Photography say that even professional images are not going to break the bank, and they will let the loved one know someone cares.

Communicate via Skype and other video calling tools

Almost everyone has a laptop at home with a webcam, and so you can use these tools to keep in touch. There are many video calling software tools available on the market today that anyone can try. Best of all? Services like Skype don’t require any investment, and the calls go through the WiFi connection. That means there is no need to stress about inflated telephone bills. Also, the family members will get to see each other on the screen, which is fantastic for grandparents, aunties, and uncles with growing nieces and nephews. Some alternatives to Skype include:

 

Arrange family get-togethers at least once each year

Regardless of the distance, all family members should manage to attend a gathering once each year. Some folks might like to call it a reunion. Try to choose a location that’s in the middle of everyone, so that some people don’t have to travel much farther than others. It’s possible to save a fortune on hotel rooms if the entire group books together, and there are lots of other ways in which the family can save money, such as cooking some meals, sharing transportation costs or finding discounted tickets to activities online. At those gatherings and reunions, be sure to take as many photographs as possible and encourage all the kids to play together to create lifetime connections.

With the tips from this post, all families can manage to keep in touch and see each other regularly, even when they live hundreds of miles apart. People can come and go during most people’s lifetimes. However, family members will be there until the bitter end, and so it’s always worth making an effort. Sometimes our links to the past are an important part of creating a future that makes us feel happy and content. How have you kept in touch with family far away? 

Source for video chatting photo above

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Family Fun in Fort Worth

Contributed article

If you’re looking for an interesting place to take a vacation with the family in the US, Fort Worth, Texas, might not be your first, second or even third thought, but it is actually a great place for family fun.

Just take a look at these amazing family-friendly attractions that are located in the area to see why it’s a great choice when you have kids in tow:

Forest Park Miniature Railroad

For some reasons, kids just love trains, and they’re sure to love the Forest Park Miniature railroad, which has been entertaining families since 1959. When you hop onboard the mini-train for a fun-filled five-mile round trip through the Trinity Park and TCU Zoo area, you’ll be treated to spectacular views the whole family can appreciate.

SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium

The SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium In Fort Worth is an attraction not to be missed thanks to its distinct family vibe and the over 300 species of interesting marine life, exotic animals and tropical birds, many of which you can get up close and personal with. Educational and fun-filled, this is one attraction that, once visited, you will never forget.

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

Image source

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History was set up to provide amazing learning experiences for people of all ages. Within its impressive castle-like walls, you’ll find the awe-inspiring Noble Planetarium, where you can explore the expansive cosmos at leisure; the DinoDig, where you can dig for fossils, like a great archaeologist; and the Omni Theater, which has its own immersive IMAX Dome to spark the imagination and teach you about the mysteries of science and history.

Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge

If your kids are animal lovers, they’re sure to enjoy a trip to the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, which not only goes a long way to creating the Fort Worth of times gone by with its prairies, wetlands and forests, but which is also home to some pretty special animals, including imposing brown bears. You can hike the 26,000 acres (probably not all of it) at your own leisure, immersing yourselves in the beauty of nature on one of the many fantastic hiking trails within the Center.

Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame

Image source

The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame is sure to be a winner with little boys, in particular. This museum of sorts is dedicated to preserving the memory of the state’s finest cowboys and cowgirls who were amazing at rodeo sports, ranching and basically being tough ole Texans. Of particular interest is the collection of Old West wagons and the Exploratorium, where children can learn a few cowboy skills of their own.

Fort Worth Zoo

Kids love zoos, and the Fort Worth Zoo will not disappoint them with its collection of exotic animals, including primates, rhinos and lesser flamingoes! You can easily spend the whole day here and never get bored.

Fort Worth really is a kid’s paradise. It’s wild, informative, and most importantly lots of fun. The little ones will love it.

Photo at the top from Flickr here.

 

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