TripAdvisor Names Best Hotels For Families

Want to know where to travel with the kids? TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel review site, has named their top family-friendly hotels in 25 markets around the world, based on those ranked highest by travelers who identified themselves as traveling with family in their reviews.

The good news? The hotels on the list aren’t too pricey – the average rate is $274 per night with larger properties averaging $292 in the US (100 rooms or more) and small properties in the US averaging just $131 per night.

Here’s the full list:

Top 10 World Large Hotels and Resorts

  • Treasure Island Resort & Holiday Park, Biggera Waters, Australia
  • KeyLime Cove Resort and Water Park, Gurnee, Illinois
  • Rocking Horse Ranch Resort, Highland, New York
  • Hope Lake Lodge & Conference Center, Cortland, New York
  • Protur Bonaire Aparthotel, Cala Bona, Spain
  • Holiday Village Rhodes, Kolimbia, Greece
  • Beaches Turks & Caicos, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
  • Aparthotel Playa Mar, Port de Pollenca, Spain
  • Alfagar II Aparthotel, Albufeira, Portugal
  • Aquafantasy Aquapark Hotel & Spa, Selcuk, Turkey

Top 10 U.S. Large Hotels and Resorts:

  • KeyLime Cove Resort and Water Park, Gurnee, Illinois
  • Rocking Horse Ranch Resort, Highland, New York
  • Hope Lake Lodge & Conference Center, Cortland, New York
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Orlando, Florida
  • WorldQuest Orlando Resort, Orlando, Florida
  • Woodloch Pines Resort, Hawley, Pennsylvania
  • Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa, Orlando, Florida
  • Marriott’s Harbour Lake, Orlando, Florida
  • Floridays Resort Orlando, Orlando, Florida
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton Anaheim-Main Gate Area, Garden Grove, California

Top 10 U.S. Small Hotels and Motels:

  • Pollace’s Family Vacation Resort, Catskill, New York
  • Starlight Motel & Luxury Suites, Ortley Beach, New Jersey
  • Lampliter Oceanside Resorts, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
  • VIP Motel, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
  • Echo Motel & Oceanfront Cottages, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
  • Sierra Sands Family Lodge, Mears, Michigan
  • Park Vue Inn, Anaheim, California
  • Country Inn & Suites Hershey at the Park, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
  • The Suites at Hershey, Hershey, Pennsylvania
  • Sun Viking Lodge, Daytona Beach, Florida

[Flickr via GomiGirl]

An off-season weekend getaway to Cape May, New Jersey

A few weeks ago I felt the urgent, desperate need to flee New York City.

There was something about the city’s noise, its attitude, its frenetic pace that was driving me out of my mind. I felt caged in by the narrow tenement buildings of my Lower East Side streets. A taxi driver honked unnecessarily and I felt the irrepressible urge to slam on his front hood and yell “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO THAT FOR?”

It was clear that I needed a break.

My requirements were simple: a place outside of the city where I could unwind with a good book, a fireplace and maybe a bottle of Pinot Noir. My top priority was silence.

I found what I was looking for in Cape May, New Jersey. While in the summer it’s a hotspot for vacationing tri-staters, in the winter it’s close to deserted. I recruited my boyfriend, rented a car for the three-and-a-half hour drive and booked a room at Congress Hall, a charming Victorian hotel that once served as the summer residence for presidents Pierce, Buchanan, Grant and Harrison. With a friendly yellow exterior, a tiled lobby reminiscent of Havana and a daily schedule of events, the Congress Hall had the look of a coastal resort and the feel of a grown-up summer camp.

But most importantly, in a section of the hotel called the Brown Room, Congress Hall had a fireplace and in front of that fireplace were a scattering of leather armchairs and a bar with an extensive wine list. Behold, the resting place I’d been dreaming of.


Turns out, the Brown Room and adjoining Blue Pig Tavern are among Cape May’s only hotspots during the off-season months of October-March, and by 5pm the area was bustling with locals taking advantage of happy hour. After a relaxing evening of reading, wining and dining on delicious mussels, I fell into one of the most restful sleeps I’d had in months.

The next morning, we woke early to explore the town. The streets were dead silent, except for the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. Further inland, quaint multi-colored storefronts advertised shop names from a different time: Good Scents, Just For Laughs, Whale’s Tale, the Cape May Popcorn Factory.

The only store open at 9am on a Monday was the Original Fudge Kitchen, where I picked out a selection of salt-water taffy and gulped what tasted like stale Folger’s coffee (even though it was a retreat, I am still a New Yorker, and I was desperate).

After the pit stop, we continued our stroll. The roads were deliciously devoid of cars, and only a handful of pedestrians shared the sidewalks. After ascertaining that nearly every shop had closed for the season, and that there was in fact very little to do, we made our way to the waterfront. The late winter day was fresh, and we had the beach entirely to ourselves. After tiring of splashing in the surf, we headed back to the hotel. A fireplace was waiting.

[Flickr image via Alan Kotok]

New Jersey law now requires helmets on skiers, snowboarders

If you’re planning on hitting the slopes in the Garden State this winter, you’ll want to take note of this story.

New Jersey is set to begin enforcing a new law this weekend that will require skiers and snowboarders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while on the slopes. The law was passed last April, and makes the state the first in the nation to require minors to wear protective head gear.

The new law requires parents to ensure that their minor children are wearing helmets at all times, including while they’re on rope tows and lifts, or face a fine. The penalty for a first offense is $25, with each additional infraction setting them back as much as $100. The hope is that this move will make skiing and snowboarding safer activities for young people.

While New Jersey isn’t well known as a ski destination, it does have several resorts, most of which are set to open for the winter season by this holiday weekend. Warmer than normal weather has kept snow away for the most part and hampered efforts to make artificial snow as well. But resorts such as Mountain Creek are optimistic that they’ll be open in time for the Christmas holiday. In preparation for that opening, and this new law, the resort has doubled the number of rental helmets that it has on hand.

The question is, would a law requiring helmets actually catch-on in states that are more well known as ski destinations, such as Colorado or Utah? California governor Jerry Brown has already vetoed such a law, but did so out of concern for more and more authority being handed over from parents to the state. He did say that he appreciated the value of wearing a helmet however, but inferred that it wasn’t the state’s duty to mandate it.

Considering more and more people are wearing helmets while on the slopes already, I don’t think such a law would be met with much opposition. Much like wearing a seat belt while driving these days, it just makes good sense to wear a helmet as well. It’ll be interesting to see if other states follow New Jersey’s lead or if they’ll take California’s approach and put the onus back on the parents.

Gawker’s Worst 50 States

I’ve been following Gawker’s newest series, The Worst 50 States. I’ve been enjoying following this series. In an effort to pin down not only the best states in the US of A, but, more importantly, the worst states, Gawker compiled a Gawker-invented rating system in order to rank our fair fifty. Granted, this rating system consists solely of the viewpoints of those on staff for Gawker, so the viewpoints are just about as biased as you would deem Gawker (Which might be not at all according to you!), but there’s some interesting stuff in there. Yes, they’re focusing on the bad more than the good, those damn pessimists, but all in all, fact or fiction, the commentary on the 50 states is makes me laugh. And, I’ll just throw this in there, I’ve been to 48 of the 50 states and much of every summary they make rings true to me. They’re not done wrapping up the states yet, but check out their analysis of most of the states here.

If you’re inflamed, saddened, or curling over with laughter after reading what’s so bad about your home state, come back here and tell us in the comments how Gawker made you feel.

American Dream at Meadowlands to open in 2013

New Jersey governor Chris Christie and developer Triple Five announced plans for the new Meadowlands retail and entertainment complex. Formerly known as Xanadu, the renamed American Dream at Meadowlands will be a sprawling complex that will include an indoor amusement park, an indoor water park, an ice skating rink, an observation wheel and the only indoor ski slope in North America (pictured above). Triple Five’s plans to complete the project also include improving the aesthetics of the exterior.

The developer has compared the project to similar multi-faceted complexes Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall. Those massive malls are the first and second largest such facilities in the World and are also managed by Triple Five. American Dream hopes to not only attract tourists, but also locals with retail, restaurant, and nightlife establishments.

At a cost of $3.7 billion, American Dream is projected to attract 55 million annual visits while creating up to 35,000 jobs and millions in tax revenue. American Dream is scheduled to open in late 2013 a few months before Super Bowl XLVIII at the nearby Meadowlands Stadium.

[Photo Credit – Flickr user LancerE]