Trekaroo Family Travel Blog https://blog.trekaroo.com kids. trips. tips. Sun, 26 Jun 2022 21:37:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.0 https://blog.trekaroo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Trekaroo-Social-Media-Purple-Gear-512x512px-150x150.png Trekaroo Family Travel Blog https://blog.trekaroo.com 32 32 9953755 Fun Things to Do in Charlotte, NC with Kids https://blog.trekaroo.com/fun-things-to-do-in-charlotte-nc-with-kids/ Sun, 26 Jun 2022 21:34:30 +0000 https://blog.trekaroo.com/?p=217311 Queen City. The Hornets Nest. Banktown. The City of Industry. The Energy Capital. Crowntown. No matter what you call Charlotte, NC, you can definitely call it one thing: a great …

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Queen City. The Hornets Nest. Banktown. The City of Industry. The Energy Capital. Crowntown. No matter what you call Charlotte, NC, you can definitely call it one thing: a great place to vacation with your family. From fun museums to outdoor respites to amazing southern food, here are fun things to do in Charlotte, NC with kids.

Fun Things to do in Charlotte, NC with Kids

U.S. National Whitewater Center

The US National Whitewater Center offers guests a man-made whitewater rafting channel, complete with class III and IV rapids. You’re able to make several passes around the channel and the guides are more than capable of keeping guests safe. 

There is a chance (just like traditional whitewater rafting) that you may fall out of the raft, but the tutorial before you begin tells you exactly what to do should it happen. Honestly, I feel rafting this way is much safer than hitting a river as it’s a controlled environment.

In addition to the family-friendly outdoor center’s rafting experience, the space offers 1,300 acres of ramped up exercise including climbing, running paths, light walking, and places to sit and enjoy the view.

Great Wolf Lodge

Even now with an adult daughter, if I tell her we’re going to Great wolf Lodge there will be a smile on her face. And truly, I do love everything about the family-friendly resort. There are multiple dining locations, a fun & interactive MagiQuest that uses all floors of the resort (so, exercise and fun!), and hourly activities. 

Did I mention the massive indoor waterpark? Yep, there’s one of those, too. Personally, I adore the fact that it’s climate controlled, so no matter what the outdoor temp, it’s a beautifully-tropical feel inside. 

Discovery Place

Located on Tryon ST in the heart of Downtown Charlotte, Discovery Place is all about making STEM experiences fun for kiddos. A multi-story mecca of whimsical, hands-on experiences, kids of all ages will enjoy a visit for a few hours.

Offering four specific areas to learn (Science, Nature, Kids, and IMAX), I adore the fact that they encourage learning through exploration and play.  You’ll want to put aside several hours to experience the four spots and is especially fun for a rainy day activity.

Carolina Raptor Center

Dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey, the Carolina Raptor Center is considered a living museum. With a 3/4 mile walking path, you’ll spy more than 25 species of raptor, both exotic and native.

Not only beautiful for its located in a wooded area in Huntersville, a highlight of the visit is definitely learning through “A Day in the Life of a Raptor Hospital” where you can be educated on injuries and checkups.

Sea Life Aquarium

If you’re looking for a great excuse to hit the local mall, Sea Life Aquarium is it. Located inside the Concord Mills Mall, it’s a fun activity I wouldn’t pass up. 

My daughter and I experienced Sea Life Charlotte firsthand and it really was fun. The size is manageable, especially for families with younger kiddos and parking is free. 

Sky Zone Charlotte

In my neck of the woods (aka, Pittsburgh), we have a Sky Zone that we love to visit. It’s a great way to burn off energy, is ideal for all four seasons, and it’s downright fun. 

An indoor trampoline park, there are different sections that allow both kids and adults to bounce off the walls, into foam block pits, or simply watch the fun at a safe distance. 

It’s a great way to get exercise and it really does make me giggle the entire time. 

Freedom Park’s Duck Pond

There’s something to be written about grabbing some oyster crackers, sitting by the pond, and feeding ducks. And sometimes that respite is exactly what a family needs.

In Charlotte, Freedom Park has a famous duck pond that’s perfect for doing just that. Once you’re done feeding the feathered cuties, there are two playground areas, a paved walking & bike path, and even tennis courses. 

The park is open year round from dusk to dawn, so pack a picnic lunch, grab a picnic table or bring your own blanket, and simply enjoy the outdoors. 

Visit the Four Corners Statues

At the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets sits the famous Charlotte Four Corners Statues. In Independence Square, The four statues face inwards and represent the city of Charlotte’s past and future, each telling a story since they were placed in 1995 by creator Raymond Kaskey. 

Each weighs 5,000 pounds and is highly detailed, giving kiddos a chance to play a bit of I Spy for fun. 

NASCAR Hall of Fame

One of my favorite museums in Charlotte, you don’t have to be a racing fan to enjoy the NASCAR Museum. There are loads of hands-on experiences (we love the tire changing pit race!), and seeing a few famous race cars from famous drivers up close was an experience I’ll never forget. 

For me, personally, I love the science behind racing and there are plenty of exhibits highlighting why racers and their pit crew do what they do. 

Little Sugar Creek Greenway

Just in case you’re not familiar with the term “greenway” it’s a strip of land set aside for recreation use. One of Charlotte’s best is the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, for sure. Spanning just around 19 miles when officially completed, it’s part of both the Carolina Thread Trail and Trail of History.

Whether you want to rent bikes, do some running or walking, or simply grab a bench and people watch, the path is beautiful no matter which section you choose to visit.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

With its 380 acres of botanical beauty, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a gorgeous respite from the hustle and bustle of North Carolina’s largest city. It has both indoor conservatory rooms with pretty themes (make it a point to see the orchids!) and outdoor walking trails. 

But if you’re taking the kiddos, make a beeline for the Kimbrell Children’s Garden, created specifically with kids in mind and their love of pretend play and adventure. 

Romare Bearden Park

Named after the artist known for collages featuring American black culture, Romare Bearden, this park in Uptown Charlotte is a lovely respite from the big city even though its’ in the heart of the city.

Reed Gold Mine

If you think gold mining occurred only in the western United States, a trip to Reed Gold Mine will happily change your mind. 

A state historic site, you can take a tour of its museum that features a detailed history of gold mining in NC. Additionally, and my favorite part, you can actually check out restored gold mine tunnels. 

Carowinds

Carowinds is a massive, highly popular theme park that sits right on the North Carolina/South Carolina border. A Cedar Fair property, the park is filled with massive roller coasters, family-friendly rides, and even a Charlie Brown & Snoopy area dedicated to younger kiddos. 

Additionally, it’s like a two-for-one theme park as Carolina Harbor Waterpark is included with admission. Carowinds is an all-day park, so you’ll definitely want to block out one during your visit to take in as much as possible. 

Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop

If the kiddos have grandparents that talk about the good old days of visiting a soda fountain in high school, they can feel the fun vibe themselves at Pike’s. 

Exactly what you’d expect it to look like, the shiny stainless steel equipment combined with marble countertops make for a delicious blast from the past. As for the menu, there are plenty of classics to test drive including milkshakes, burgers, and ice cream sundaes. 

Catch a Charlotte Knights Baseball Game

Another fun thing to do in Charlotte with kids is to check out a baseball game at the Charlotte Hornets’ stadium. It’s easy to walk from anywhere in the downtown area, arriving early to grab an autograph from one of the players is a must. 

Again, this is another activity that you don’t need to be a massive fan of to enjoy, the in-between inning fun makes it worth it – and it’s highly affordable. 

Related articles to link to: Amazing Places to See North Carolina Fall Color, Best Things to do in North Carolina with kids, Great Smoky Mountains Road Trip Itinerary, Best Things to do in Asheville, NC with kids, Great Places to Stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

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Top 10 Things to Do in Zurich with Kids https://blog.trekaroo.com/top-10-things-to-do-in-zurich-with-kids/ Tue, 14 Jun 2022 16:01:00 +0000 https://blog.trekaroo.com/?p=76755 Heading to Zurich with kids? This largest Swiss city is the perfect starting point for any family trip to Switzerland or even a central starting point for a more ambitious …

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Heading to Zurich with kids? This largest Swiss city is the perfect starting point for any family trip to Switzerland or even a central starting point for a more ambitious European vacation. Be sure to make plenty of time for this city because there are lots of great things to do in Zurich with kids

The city centers around its train station (Bahnhof) which makes it extremely transit-friendly and walkable. The Limmat River runs through Old Town and Lake Zurich’s (Zürichsee) blue shores sparkle against the deep green local mountain peaks with the Alps visible in the distance.

The Best Things to do in Zurich with Kids

1. Find Opportunities for OUtdoor Adventure

Zurich with kids
Photo by Aerie Gray

If you are an active family, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure sports like mountain biking, skateboarding, and trail exercise right inside the city. Bikepark Zurich holds the distinction of being the first urban bike park to open in Europe. 

Freestyle Skate Park Zurich is almost right across the street in the Allmendstrasse area of the city. Zurich is home to the idea of fitness trails or exercise courses in nature. In Switzerland, they are called vitaparcours and it’s like running your own personal obstacle course in the forest.

Use the Finder to locate trails near where you are staying. Of course, there’s also plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails.

2. Go Sightseeing via Tram

The tram is a great way to see the sights and attractions of Zurich with kids. In fact, children under 6 are free. You’ll see the ZVV blue and white tram cars traveling all over town and it’s easy to find SBB trains for trips a little further afield.

Get a Zurich Card for the greatest flexibility and opportunity to experience. Between walking and public transportation, there should never be a need to drive while exploring Zurich with kids.

3. Explore Shopville-Zurich Main Station and Bahnhofstrasse

Zurich with kids Movenpick
Photo by Michele Whiteaker

Whether you arrive via train or take a tram from Zurich Airport, one of your first stops in town will likely be the main train station (Bahnhof). The station itself is home to Shopville-Zurich Main Station with shops ranging from Migros or Co-Op grocery markets to all sorts of bakeries and confection (Backerei-Konditorei) shops.

There are also plenty of options for a quick meal or snack at spots that resemble American food courts or food halls. Try Pretzel King (Brezelkonig) for a soft pretzel or ice cream at Movenpick. These shops are on multi-levels with the great majority of storefronts located in the underground shopping area.

Once you get streetside, you can window shop along Bahnhofstrasse which is Zurich’s version of Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive.

4. Fell Like You’re in a Fairytale in Old Town Zurich (Altstadt)

Top 10 Things to Do in Zurich with Kids 4

Yes, more walking! Just imagine . . . your kids will be ready for bed at night. With its cobblestone streets, historic churches (Grossmunster, Fraumunster, and Peterskirche), fountains, and location overlooking the Limmat River- walking through Altstadt makes you feel like you are in a medieval fairytale.

No cars are allowed on most of the streets and the narrow alleyways will twist and turn or climb to tree-covered spots like the Lindenhof which has unmatched views of the city.

Check for the amazing deals on hotels in Zurich. As a Booking.com affiliate Trekaroo is thrilled to offer our readers the lowest rates.

Capture incredible memories of your Zurich family vacation with Flytographer. Flytographer has a network of incredible professional photographers ready to come to you and help your family create the ultimate souvenir of your special trip. Trekaroo is proud to be a Flytographer customer and affiliate.

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5. Get a Taste of Swiss Chocolate and Gummies

Zurich with Kids
Photo by: Michele Whiteaker

You probably know already know about the Lindt and their Swiss Chocolate Experience in Kilchberg just outside Zurich for children/families without allergies who are 10 years or older. But even closer to town, you can experience a Tuescher truffle shopping experience.

Their very humble website doesn’t even begin to express the extravagance of their seasonal decorations where the entire store transforms into a work of art. Kids will also be big fans of the Barenland. Imagine not just gummy bears, but gummies in all shapes and sizes filling an entire shop with colorful candies and the sweet smell of sugary fruit.

6. Play at the Zoo

Zurich with kids zoo

Zoo Zurich is easy to get to on public transportation. Your kids will spot all sorts of animals from as far away as Africa and Australia. 

Zoo Zurich’s playgrounds are as big of a draw as the zoo itself. The playground off the main entrance will make your kids feel like they are miniaturized playing among tall blades of grass and brilliant red toadstools.

Another playground near the Masoala rainforest boasts webs of rope climbers and modern tunnel slides fit into stick huts. Kids will find more smaller play spaces tucked in between animal exhibits to make for some fun play breaks.

The Wildnispark Zurich Langenberg is much less accessible and more of a day trip outside of town, but if you are looking for a wilder adventure, this visit will fulfill your wishes.

You can visit the Sihlwahld Visitor Center which has a nature museum, wilderness playground, and an otter exhibit. Get information from the Visitor Center about the best way to extend your trip by traveling to the Wildnispark where you can see a greater array of animals and experience yet another fun playground

7. Go UP to Wander the Local Mountains

Zurich with kids

Uetliberg is “Zurich’s local mountain” at 2857 feet elevation and it’s easily reachable from the main Bahnhof. The views of Lake Zurich are breathtaking and the forest paths are lush and green in the summer.

Local residents head up the mountain for a meal or a wanderweg which is German for “trail.” It’s possible to hike up the mountain, but with family it might be best to take the train up and just wander the trails at your leisure.

The Path of the Planets will lead you to a restaurant and small playground at Felsenegg, elevation 2624 feet, where you can hike down or take the aerial tram down to Adliswil. From there, you can take a 10-minute walk to get on the S-Bahn back to Zurich.

8. Let Your Kid’s Interests Lead You (and planfor a rainy day)

Zurich with kids Fifa museum

There is so much to do outdoors in Zurich, that it’s hard to spend any time indoors. However, if you are into trains, history, soccer, or art you might want to go indoors whether it’s rainy or not.

If you’ve got train lovers in the family, the Zurich Tram Museum offers plenty of hands-on exhibits. Just check the hours because it’s only open in the afternoon on certain days of the week.

History enthusiasts and explorers over 7 years old will like learning about Swiss history by reserving and checking out a “Discovery Case” filled with a map, magnifying glass, and puzzles set up for self-touring the Swiss National Museum.

If soccer is your thing, the FIFA World Football Museum opened in 2016. You can pay for access to all of the interactive exhibits or just dine in one of the restaurants paired with a visit to the library which houses more than 4,000 football-related books. Teens and budding artists might be intrigued by the world class Kunsthaus Zurich – Museum of Modern Art.

9. Wonder at the Waters

Zurich with kids lake

The Limmat River and Lake Zurich are central to the character of the town. You’ll criss-cross the river over pedestrian bridges as you wander through the older parts of the city. You’ll see locals going for a swim in the strong current (not recommended for visitors!).

However, for family swimming try the Strandbad Mythenquai at the lake. The white swans will become familiar friends as you see them float along the river and lakeshore. If you can, catch dawn or dusk over Lake Zurich — maybe by steamboat cruise on your way to Rapperswil or some other port along the lake?

10. Dine on Swiss Specialty Dishes

Zurich with kids

My mom lived and went to school in Zurich as a teen. She developed a taste for all things Swiss which usually means potatoes, bread, or pasta paired with delectable cheeses.

But there’s at least one notable exception to that rule: birchermuesli. Max Bircher-Benner developed this recipe right in the city of Zurich. Your kids will probably recognize the mixture of oats, nuts, dried fruit, and honey combined with yogurt or other dairy. Dr. Bircher-Benner added grated apple or pear, as well.

If you want a fondue dining experience, then go to a restaurant specializing in fondue. We like Le Dezaley. Toasting the cheese at the bottom of the fondue pot is called raclette, along with the Valaisian specialty that is more melty and served with potatoes.

Zeughauskeller is a touristy restaurant, but kids will think it’s cool because it’s an old armory that feels like a knight could come and sit down next to you. They also serve some Swiss specialties centered around sausages.

Kids always like Rösti, a plate-sized buttery hot potato pancake, which can almost be described as a cross between hashbrowns and a latke. Get the shredded potatoes topped with cheese (mit Käse) and sometimes ham or bacon with egg (Speck mit Ei). Finally, Spätzli is another popular dish with kids —  tiny pasta dumplings often served with cheese.

Day Trips from Zurich with Kids

Zurich with kids Rhinefall
Photo by: Michele Whiteaker

The heart of Zurich and the main part of town is at the north end of the lake. Take a ferry ride south to the town of Rapperswil where roses bloom and a grand castle greets you.

You’ll find another zoo at this end of the lake, but this one offers pony rides, camel rides, and elephant rides and animal feedings at Knies Kinderzoo. Kids will love the life-sized concrete whale on the playground!

Another worthwhile excursion is through Schaffhausen, home to Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe. Rhinefall is most easily reached by car, possibly on your way to Germany or Lake Konstanz.

You can be satisfied with a walk through Schloss Laufen and feeling the mighty pounding of the falls from slick viewpoints along the walkways – or there are opportunities to stay overnight and take advantage of tourist attractions like the Adventure Park, boat rides, hiking, or biking.

Check for the best deals on family-friendly hotels in Zurich.

Lead Image by: Bigstock/Photogearch.

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15 FUN Things to Do in NYC with Teens https://blog.trekaroo.com/15-fun-things-to-do-in-nyc-with-teens/ Tue, 14 Jun 2022 12:02:00 +0000 https://blog.trekaroo.com/?p=127078 Exploring NYC with teens is a treat! From eating and shopping to museum exhibits and Broadway shows, there are so many things to do in NYC with teenagers. If an …

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Exploring NYC with teens is a treat! From eating and shopping to museum exhibits and Broadway shows, there are so many things to do in NYC with teenagers. If an urban trip with rides on the subways, walking through Greenwich Village, and shopping on 5th Avenue is something your teens crave, they will not be disappointed. 

It’s easy to spot celebrities around town, including their favorite YouTubers, and enjoy some of the food is the best in the world.

More importantly, visiting NYC also gives parents a chance to reconnect with their teens. Creating a schedule is a smart idea. There’s so much to do, but be sure to carve out time to simply wander the streets so your teenagers can discover new things to do along the way.

We have the low-down on things to do, places to eat, and where to stay in New York City with our helpful list of 15 things to do in NYC with teenagers. 

Fun Things to to in NYC with Teens

1. Visit One of NYC’s Many Art Museums

things to do in NYC with teens include visiting the Guggenheim
Guggenheim Museum, photo by Flickr/Ajay Suresh

If your teenager is into modern art, don’t miss the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It features every modern artist from Pablo Picasso to Salvador Dali to Frida Kahlo.

The Museum Mile, is a stretch along Fifth Avenue that is full of art museums. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is very impressive, with famous works by Jackson Pollock and others displayed beautifully.

Other noteworthy museums include El Museo del Barrio, Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design, and the well-known Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met features everything from tribal artifacts to works by Vincent Van Gogh. Art enthusiasts can spend days inside this sprawling museum.

There’s also the Whitney Museum of American Art. Located in the Meatpacking District on the High Line, it is NYC’s latest addition to the modern art scene. It’s a great place to introduce teenagers to the likes of Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keefe.

2. Take Your Teens to the High Line & Hudson Yards

Highline NYC with teens
New York City High Line

Starting at 14th Street, the High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad on the west side of the city. The High Line offers lounge chairs, which teens will love lazing in, as well as nature walks, dance performances, food vendors, and art installations all year long.

There are a ton of restaurants, bakeries, chocolate shops, and food vendors right underneath the railway in Chelsea Market. Teens won’t mind walking the length of the High Line because the views are so Instagrammable.

At the top of the High Line at 34th Street, you’ll find Hudson Yards, a new part of New York City with skyscrapers, a shopping mall, a performing arts center called The Shed, and The Vessel- a 150-foot shiny sculpture made from 154 interconnected staircases, which teens will love climbing and Snapchatting about.

Capture incredible memories of your NYC family vacation with Flytographer. Flytographer has a network of incredible professional photographers ready to come to you and help your family create the ultimate souvenir of your special trip in places like the High Line. Trekaroo is proud to be a Flytographer customer and affiliate.

Flytogrpaher

3. Teens Love to Shop Until They Drop in NYC

Vintage clothes shopping in NYC with teens
Vintage clothing store | Photo by Flickr/ ashton

Teens love to shop! A trip to the Soho neighborhood is essential when shopping with teens in NYC. Stick to the well-known shops on Broadway, and you will have guaranteed happiness.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn is another great place to place for teenagers to shop for vintage clothing, records, accessories, and other beloved teen items.

The Brooklyn Flea is a great market for crafts, vintage clothing, and other quirky finds, held on weekends in Brooklyn, featuring goods from over 100 local vendors. It’s a great place teenagers can find vintage jewelry, handbags, and vinyl for music fans.

If you’re in NYC on a Saturday, don’t miss Shmorgesburg for encounters with some serious food vendors. Times Square is also a place for shopping, with a fair amount of chains that teens love such as Forever 21 and American Eagle.

4. Head Downtown

New York Stock Exchange in NYC
New York Stock Exchange

Downtown Manhattan’s Wall Street has changed significantly since 9/11. One World Trade Center became the Freedom Tower, which demands a visit. The 9/11 Memorial is heavy (as in sad), but teenagers will appreciate learning about this important part of NYC history. It’s free to walk around outside and view the memorial fountains, where the names of the victims are etched in the place where the two towers once stood.

South Street Seaport has been revitalized with many new restaurants and it’s a great place to watch boats during sunset. There’s often live music, too! Take your kids to see the NY Stock Exchange, Federal Hall National Memorial, and the Fearless Girl statue (a must for young girls). For a snack or meal, pop into Eataly for fresh Italian pasta and gelato.

5. Take a Ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

NYC with Teens - the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

If your heart is set on climbing Lady Liberty, plan well in advance and book your tickets online, particularly on holidays or weekends which happen to be peak tourist times. The views from the top are stunning and well worth the trip up.

If you can’t secure tickets to climb the monument, the Statue of Liberty is still worth visiting. Arrive at National Park headquarters early in the day to secure your ferry ticket and get through security. Once on the island you will find a visitor center, free audio tour, and concessions. 

Ellis Island is also a must-visit for teens on a visit to NYC. Ferries leave from Liberty Island for Ellis Island every 25 minutes. The island hosts the Immigration Museum, and is a wonderful education on the history of immigration to NYC over the past century. Both monuments have Junior Ranger programs. 

Trekaroo Tip: We highly recommend purchasing a New York CityPASS for everyone in your group when heading to NYC. CityPASS will allow you to save 44% on some of our favorite NYC attractions including the Met, American Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial, Ferry to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and so much more. 

6. Spend Time on the Upper West Side

NYC with teens - Central Park
Central Park

Rent bikes and ride through Central Park with your teenagers. Be sure to stop at Strawberry Fields, the area of the park dedicated to the memory of John Lennon. You and your teens will often find musicians strumming Beatles tunes. The Central Park Zoo, the Great Lawn, and free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater are also worthy of your “to do” list. 

The American Museum of Natural History, located on Central Park West, is the largest natural history museum in the world. There is truly something for everyone in this museum, from massive dinosaur skeletons to an exhibit filled with precious gems from around the world.  

7. Stop By the Studio of Your Favorite Morning Talk Show

NYC with teens - the Today Show
The Today Show, photo by Kristine Dworkin

Stop by one of the TV networks to get a glimpse of you and your teen’s favorite morning talk shows. “CBS This Morning,” “The View,” and “Live with Kelly and Ryan” film in NYC with a live studio audience. Apply early for each, or else get in a stand-by line.

All you have to do to get on “Good Morning America” and “TODAY” is stand outside (but arrive early!). During the summer, several of these shows have live music performers.

Heading to the city for the holidays? Don’t miss our article covering the best Christmas events in NYC!

8. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge with teens
Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic symbols in NYC. It reaches across the famous East River, from lower Manhattan to Dumbo. It’s a 1.3-mile walk across the bridge, but don’t worry – your teens will love it.

The views are incredible, so have them take photos galore while walking across. The bridge will take you to DUMBO (which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) on the Brooklyn side where your kids can enjoy food vendors at Time Out Market or check out one of the many Brooklyn pizza shops. Be sure to get ice-cream at OddFellows while you’re there.

Another great option is to rent bikes and peddle across the Brooklyn Bridge. There are several vendors that rent bikes near the bridge.

9. See NYC with Teens from Above

View from the Empire State Building
Checking out the view from the Empire State Building

There is no better way to take in the skyscrapers and and sprawling cityscape of Manhattan than heading to the top of one of iconic buildings and checking out the view from above.

If you are seeking out spectacular views of downtown and midtown, head to the Empire State Building. There are several interesting exhibits about the building of this iconic structure which you will pass on your way up. 

If you are seeking an epic view of Central Park and uptown, go to the Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center. There are three different observation decks included with your admission, along with an interactive Beam Walk which simulates walking on a construction beam 69 floors above Manhattan!

Tip: Avoid the crowds by arriving when these attractions open. There were zero lines or crowds on our Sunday morning visit to the Empire State Building. 

10. Go to Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds in NYC
Madame Tussauds, photo by Flickr Leon

You can’t go wrong with a trip to Madame Tussauds with teenagers. In this museum, there are six themed, interactive environments showcasing nearly 200 masterfully crafted, lifelike wax figures, that include Taylor Swift and Jimmy Fallon. The tour is historical and interesting for pop-culture lovers and teens alike. 

11. Go on a Culinary Adventure around NYC with Teens

NYC with teens - Culinary Adventure
Pasta, photo by Flickr/D. Laird

The list of places to eat in NYC for teens is endless, and it’s very hard to go wrong. People come here from all over the world to open restaurants, and they generally know their food.

Teen favorites include the Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown, Sugar Factory in the Meatpacking District, Cafe Mogador in the East Village, Mandoo Bar in Koreatown for homemade dumplings, Toto Ramen in Flushing for a bowl of ramen, Two Boots Pizza in the East Village, Haru for sushi on the Upper West Side, Telly’s Taverna in Astoria, Queens, and Bubby’s in Tribeca for a bowl of macaroni & cheese. 

Or hop on a ferry to the Rockaways in Queens and have a taco dinner at Rockaway Beach Surf Club or head to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for a heaping bowl of pasta.

Here is a guide we created filled with over 30 kid-friendly restaurants in NYC you won’t want to miss!

12. And Don’t Forget Dessert!

Big Gay Ice Cream in NYC
Big Gay Ice Cream, photo by Flickr SimonQ

For dessert, head to Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East or West Village, Milk & Cream in Soho, in the West Village for a bowl of cookie dough (yes, cookie dough!), or Schmackery’s for the best cookies on the East Coast. Eataly also has great gelato and sweets. Teenagers (and adults, too) flock to Carlo’s Bakery Times Square for cupcakes.  

13. Take in a Different View of NYC with Teens from a Boat

NYC with teens boat ride
View of Manhattan from a ferry

Go on a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise to see the city in its glory from several perspectives. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Statue of Liberty, United Nations, and the Empire State Building.

Expect to be boating under bridges, passing the Freedom Tower and Governor’s Island. Then head to Gotham Market on 45th Street and 11th Avenue afterward for amazing, reasonably priced food from food vendors.

14. See a Broadway Show

Wicked on Broadway
Wicked is a great musical for teens

Book ahead to find tickets to a family-friendly show such as Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked, or Hamilton, three shows that teens love. While tickets can be expensive in NYC, opt for half-price tickets at TKTS, found on 46th and Broadway.

There are also discount tickets on TodayTix, an app found on the iPhone. Get student rush tickets for your teenagers, or go right to the box office and ask for cheaper tickets. You never know what the ticket seller will offer closer to the time of the show.

15. Head to Coney Island to Ride the Cyclone

NYC with teens - the Cyclone
Coney Island Cyclone, photo by Flickr/Photo by Bart Heird

If you have good weather, head to Luna Park in Coney Island for good, old-fashioned rides like the legendary wooden coaster Cyclone.  In addition to the dozens of attractions and games at Luna, you’ll also want to check out the nearby beach and Nathan’s Famous for a loaded hot dog.

Stay in the Heart of the Action in Times Square

Teens will love staying in the heart of Times Square at Aliz Hotel Times Square. It’s walking distance to Hudson Yards, the Theater District, Bryant Park, and the High Line. The Aliz is cozy, has an onsite farm to table restaurant, and features a Peloton studio. Read about more of our picks for the best hotels for families in New York City

Trekaroo tip: The Aliz Hotel is steps away from the theater where “Hamilton” is playing, and any Broadway buff will love the close proximity to that theater and others. 

Lead image by Sharlene Earnshaw.

Disclosure: The author was hosted by Aliz Hotel Times Square. All opinions are her own. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane https://blog.trekaroo.com/disney-genie-lightning-lane/ Sat, 11 Jun 2022 15:30:00 +0000 https://blog.trekaroo.com/?p=63176 Disneyland has introduced Disney Genie+, a program designed to help visitors make the most out of their time at the Disneyland Resort. Those familiar with the FastPass system will definitely …

The post Everything You Need to Know About Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane appeared first on Trekaroo Family Travel Blog.

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Disneyland has introduced Disney Genie+, a program designed to help visitors make the most out of their time at the Disneyland Resort. Those familiar with the FastPass system will definitely find some similarities, but there are some notable differences, including the major change that the program is NOT free.

It is pretty similar to a previously used program called MaxPass. Recently, I had the chance to test out Genie+ so that I could share everything you need to know before your next visit to Disneyland Resort.

What is Disney Genie? 

Disneyland has a new Disney Genie program
Mickey and Minnie, hoto by Disney Parks

Disney Genie is a complimentary tool on the Disneyland mobile app that helps you plan your day. It gives you updated ride times, recommendations on when to visit rides, and forecasted wait times. This is the base service that is included in every admission.

So, What is Disney Genie+ ?

Disney Genie+ is a new program that allows park visitors to enjoy the convenience of mobile booking and redemption of Lightning Lane (previously FastPass), as well unlimited downloads of PhotoPass images and brand new “Audio Tales” available in the parks to add to the “exclusivity” of your visit.

Mobile booking allows users to see all available Lightning Lane times in one place and is now the ONLY way to skip the lines similar to the old (free) FastPass system.

Disney MaxPass

Genie+ is being offered for the price of $20 per ticket per day. I think this is a great deal, especially for those who only visit the parks once or twice a year. Actual wait times vary (Genie+ does not guarantee immediate boarding on rides) but in-general, families will save time using this feature.

In addition, only one Lightning Lane pass may be booked at a time. After riding, another attraction may be added to your itinerary.

During our visit, my family was able to get on multiple rides that had 60-100 minute queues within a short period of time. We were able to wait in line for other rides while our place was being held in line. As the only way to access this “FastPass-like feature,” my family loved it.

Do we wish this service was free? Absolutely. Having used the FastPass system for years, we look back on those times with absolute fondness.

Will we use this every time we go? No. As regular visitors, we won’t pay the $20/ticket per day for access to this feature, but it was extremely handy when visiting the park with out-of-state relatives.

Genie+ Program Overview

Splash Mountain
Splash Mountain

Genie+ is not for the “technically challenged”.  You do have to a basic understanding of how apps work in order to use it.

Put simply, Genie+ would send my mom (who is still afraid of email) into a technological meltdown. That being said, if you can’t figure it out (it should be quite simple for anyone with basic smart phone skills or has used the Disneyland App before) I am almost certain your kids can.

Make sure you have the Disneyland App downloaded on your phone and you have signed in to your account before you arrive.

Learn from my mistake. I spent a good 20 minutes trying to remember my password and attempting to reset my password before getting locked out of my account. I finally just set up another account using my husband’s email address. This wasted precious time at the park.

After you receive your tickets, click on the “my tickets and passes” tab and add your tickets (use your phone’s camera to scan them) to your account. If you use the Disneyland App to purchase your tickets, they will already be linked to your account.

I would definitely put your entire party’s tickets under one account so it will be easy to grab Lightning Lane for everyone at the same time.

Lightning Lane is NOT available for every ride in the park. It is currently available for many of the most popular rides in the parks including some of the newest rides. But be sure to check the current list well, some of the most popular rides are not included at all (see Individual Lightning Lane below).

Related: Lightning Lane rides at Disney California Resorts | Disney World

Genie+ Lightning Lane is time-limited. You can only add another selection after redeeming one. You cannot “stack” them up to ride everything in the park.

Genie+ Lightning Lane is ride-limited. You cannot use Lightning Lane to re-ride a ride. Simply put, if you use Lightning Lane to ride once, you will have to wait in the standby line to ride it again.

Genie+ can drain your battery. Disneyland has long been known to suck the life out of cell phones and with continued use of the Disneyland App, I found my phone drained even faster than normal.

Be sure to pack a backup charger, buy one inside the parks, or rent a locker that includes a place to plug in (note: these go quickly).

Individual Lightning Lane

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Storm Troopers from Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Adding to the confusion of Genie+ is the inclusion of “Individual Lightning Lane” purchases. These rides have a Lightning Lane queue, but they are NOT included in Genie+.

These individual purchases must be added to Genie+ or purchased on their own (typically $7-$20 per ride). Park guests are limited to buying TWO individual lightning lane attractions per day.

The only way to access the Lightning Lane line for the following rides is by adding on an individual one-time purchase.

  • Disneyland Individual Lightning Lane Rides: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Disney California Adventure Individual Lightning Lane Rides: WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-man Adventure and Radiator Springs Racers
  • Magic Kingdom Individual Lightning Lane Rides: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Splash Mountain
  • EPCOT Individual Lightning Lane Rides: Frozen Ever After and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
  • Hollywood Studios Individual Lightning Lane Rides: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Animal Kingdom Individual Lightning Lane Rides: Avatar Flight of Passage

PhotoPass Benefits

Photopass comes with Disney Genie+

Be sure to take advantage of the PhotoPass benefits that come along with Genie+– after all, you paid for them! There are tons of photographers positioned in key spots all over the park, allowing you to capture images that include everyone in your group.

The Disneyland App can even help you find exactly where photographers are located on an easy-to-use map. You can also link those hilarious ride photos to your PhotoPass by entering the 8-digit code found above the image screen to your account on the Disneyland App.

I find it easiest to snap a quick picture of the code and then entering it later when I have time while waiting in line.

Audio Tales

Brand new to the Genie+ program is the addition of Audio Tales. These exclusive, in-app audio stories and self-guided tours are location-specific to where you are in the park. I wanted to listen to some of them during my visit but I didn’t bring headphones. Next time, I will check out this feature.

Have more questions about Disney Genie+, Lightning Lane or PhotoPass? Leave a comment and we will be happy to answer!

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Disney California Adventure Tips for First Timers https://blog.trekaroo.com/disney-california-adventure-tips/ Sat, 11 Jun 2022 12:10:00 +0000 http://blog.trekaroo.com/?p=49430 Heading to Disney California Adventure? This First-Timer's Guide shares everything you need to know, from planning, knowing the insider tips & much more.

The post Disney California Adventure Tips for First Timers appeared first on Trekaroo Family Travel Blog.

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As the mother of Disney-loving twins growing up in Orange County, visits to Disney California Adventure have become a way of life. My years of experience have resulted in me becoming a Disney expert. I am constantly asked to share my Disney California Adventure tips so I decided to put them down all in one place. I hope this guide will help thousands of Trekaroo families get the most out of every visit to DCA.

Looking for Disneyland tips? Don’t worry, we have those too!

Heading to another park or want to see our entire library or Disney content? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacations.

Ultimate Vacation Guide to Disney Parks for Families

Disney California Adventure Tips for First Timers

Decide When to Go

silly symphony swings are a fun option at Disney California Adventure with kids

The best time to visit Disney California Adventure is mid-week during the off-season. If your kids can take a couple days off from school, I highly recommend going that route.

Make every effort to avoid peak travel times. Your family will spend much less time fighting crowds, standing in long lines and on peak days, one-day admission prices rise 20% over regular day admission.

Peak dates include the Christmas season, Spring Break, and peak summer. If you visit the parks on “value” days, the price is reduced by 4%. Visit the Disneyland pricing calendar for updated information.

Here are my four favorite times of year to visit the DCA:

1. The week after Labor Day in September through the first two weeks in October.

 Kids are back in school so the parks are not crowded. Both parks are decked out for Halloween during the entire month of October.

Good to know: September is typically one of the warmest months in Orange County so be sure to make time for a beach day or some pool time back at the hotel.

2. January and February

While most of the country is freezing, Orange County is typically enjoying daytime temperatures between 55 and 75. If you have to choose a 3-day weekend, crowds are more manageable on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend than President’s Day.

3. The first two weeks in May.

Spring Break crowds are gone, the weather is nice, and kids are still in school.

4. The first two weeks in December.

This is probably my favorite time to visit because all of the holiday decorations are up but most of the holiday visitors are still doing their Christmas shopping. Park attendance is low but the wow factor is high.

Avoid: Mid-March through mid-April due to Spring Break, Thanksgiving week, the weeks before and after Christmas, most of June and August, and all of July.

If you do have to go during the summer months, try to visit either the first week in June (when most Southern California schools are still in session) or the last week in August (when most schools are back in session). 

First Timer's Guide to Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure Tips- Hotel, Dining, & Special Experience Reservations

Disney's Grand California Hotel provides direct access to Disney California Adventure

I have covered all the details on hotel, dining, and special experience reservations on Trekaroo’s Disneyland Tips for First Timers guide. I encourage you to check it out!

Buy Your Tickets

disney world tickets

All visits to Disney parks now require advance reservations. You can’t just show up at the parks and hope to get in.

If you want to save money, beyond visiting on “value” days, you need to buy a 3-5 day park hopper (or a Southern California City Pass for those of you planning on exploring Southern California beyond Disneyland) which will get you into Disneyland Park one hour before the park opens to the general public.

Do not buy tickets off of Craigslist or Ebay. There are so many scams out there and I have seen people get pulled aside at the ticket counter on more than one occasion because the “ticket” they bought was not actually valid.

Looking for tips on packing, weather, souvenirs, and Disney’s PhotoPass+? Check out Trekaroo’s Disneyland Tips for First Timers guide

Download Helpful Apps

Trekaroo iPhone App - kid-friendly activiites, restaurants, hotels nearby

There are so many great apps out there that will enhance your Disney experience. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Disneyland app. The official Disneyland app is the go-to for monitoring wait times, mobile ordering food, and keeping track of tickets.
  • Ridemax to map out a game plan for experiencing Disney California Adventure with the shortest lines possible.
  • Lots to do in Line: Disneyland is a great app to help you pass the time while in the lines at the Disneyland Resort.  The app provides trivia and scavenger hunts for each of the 64 lines at Disneyland and CA Adventure.  We have used this app multiple times and find it to be well worth the $5.99 price tag.
  • Trekaroo has a great (and free) mobile app which will allow you to check reviews of rides, attractions, hotels, and restaurants on our Disneyland California Resort Review Guide.

Important Note: Cell phone batteries seem to drain quickly while at Disney California Adventure. If you plan on being on your phone all day (Heads Up can be a line lifesavers as well), consider buying a battery operated cell phone charger for the trip.

There are also now special lockers on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland Park and Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure where guests can recharge batteries for their electronic devices.

Important DCA Tip- Set Your Priorities

Don’t go to the parks without out knowing what your priorities are, especially if you have a limited amount of time. Figure out which rides are top priorities for your family and see how many of them have Lightning Lane passes available (these are for an extra fee).

Check the schedule to see what the park hours are going to be during your stay. Also check to see which time and day the special events (such as parades and fireworks) your family is interested in will be offered and plan your days around them. A little research goes a long way!

If you would like to read reviews of rides, hotels, restaurants, and attractions written by parents who have been to Disneyland, check out our Disneyland California Resort Review Guide. Hopefully reviews written by parents who have been there  will help you make all the big decisions in your Disney planning!

Disney California Adventure Tips for When You Arrive at the Park


Disney California Adventure Collage

If you have already secured your first Lightning Lane pass (or if you aren’t using the fee-based program at all), spend some time enjoying rides that don’t have Lightning Lane but do get quite busy as the day progresses, such as Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

RELATED: Here is a list of all the rides in Disney California Adventure that have Lightning Lane.

RELATED: Explore rides at California Adventure that won’t scare skittish kids.

Handy Tips for Popular Attractions

Disneyland-California-Adventure-Mickey's-Fun-Wheel-Trekaroo

If you want to see World of Color (which you definitely should), don’t expect to be able to walk right up and get preferred viewing right before the show. Without preferred viewing you will likely have to suffer through a show with an obstructed view.

Currently, the only other way to receive preferred viewing is to purchase a special dining package inside California Adventure. There are a few different options including a picnic dinner ($15.99), which can be ordered online ahead of time at a discount.

Preferred viewing passes also come with the pre fixe lunch or dinner at Wine Country Trattoria, as well as a la carte dinners at Carthay Circle Restaurant. Reservations can be made by calling (714) 781-DINE up to 60 days in advance.

The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is an excellent spot to have kids run off some energy and get all those wiggles that have been stored up from waiting in line out of their system. It has a nice, quiet, forested vibe and plenty of obstacles for the kids to climb on. I love how far away the crowds feel.

The Animation Hall in Hollywood Land (near Turtle Talk with Crush and Animation Academy) has huge screens which constantly show scenes and play music from Disney Classics. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the air conditioning. I have seen many kids napping in strollers here.

Frozen- Live at the Hyperion is the sort of 60-minute Broadway caliber musical that people pay lots of money to see. This is your chance to take your kids to a real musical without having to worry about them being kids. Make time for it.

Note: This show has been closed since COVID-19 and is not currently scheduled to re-open at this time.

DCA Tips- Where To Go With Baby

There is a Baby Care Center next to The Bakery Tour in the Pacific Wharf. It offers similar amenities and items for sale as the one inside Disneyland including extremely clean changing tables, shelves to hold your gear, small toilets for potty training kiddos, high chairs, and a quiet place to nurse.

Cast members will even heat up baby food or formula for you! Diapers, ointment, baby powder, Pull Ups, wipes, pacifiers, formula, baby food, and Children’s Tylenol are all available for purchase inside. Why don’t they have these places everywhere? Disney definitely knows how to keep moms happy!

Fun fact: The Pacific Wharf Cafe has real San Francisco sourdough. So yummy!

A Few Notes on Dining

A Guide to Dining at Disney Parks

The Corn Dog Cart in Disneyland is extremely popular and for good reason, they are the best corn dogs ever, but the exact same corn dogs are served at Corn Dog Castle and the line is much shorter.

The Corn Dog Castle is in between the Little Mermaid and Goofy’s Sky School.

Looking for more Disney Dining Tips? Check out our Disney Dining Guide and additional details on Disney and food allergies.

Get to the Park Early

Disney Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters

We all know that the early bird catches the worm but at the Disneyland Resort, the early bird also spends far less time in line for their favorite rides. Make every effort to arrive at the parks at least 30 minutes before opening.

Consider the amount of time it will take to park your car (take a picture of where you park with your phone), go through security, and take the shuttle (about 10-15 minutes), walk, or take a shuttle from your hotel. You want to be out in front of the entrance saying “open, open, open” with all the other folks who know riding ten rides in the first hour will take three times as long later in the day.

Rider Switch

If you have a child who is too small or too scared to ride some rides, take advantage of Rider Switch which is available on most rides with height restrictions.

No, you don’t get to trade in your child for a taller and braver kid, but you and your partner will both still be able to ride the rides without having to wait in line twice!

When you enter a ride queue, simply tell a Cast Member you would like a Rider Switch pass. After scanning your park ticket, this pass will allow the first adult to ride while the second adult stays with the child and maybe goes on a ride that is more tyke-friendly.  

Single Rider

Single rider is a great option for older kids and adults who want to save time and skip the regular line by essentially acting as a seat filler. Single riders enter a special line (ask a cast member for direction) and then cast members loading ride vehicles draw will use you to fill empty seats. This line moves much quicker than the regular line.

Here is a list of rides at the Disneyland Resort that have the single rider option.

Lines

You can get in line for an attraction up until the park closing time. If the park closes at 8PM, as long as you are in line by 7:59PM, you will be able to ride the ride.

Recipies

Taste someone you love while in the park? You can request the recipe for any menu item at the Disney California Adventure.

Special Needs

SPECIAL NEEDS at Disney Parks

Are you traveling with someone in your party who has special needs? We have been there! See our post on visiting Disney Parks with special needs children. It is packed full of great advice and information.

Traveling with someone in your party who has food allergies? We know all about that too! Check out this great post on traveling with a child with severe food allergies or this specific article on visiting Disney parks with food allergies. Disney is great about handling every sort of food allergy and chefs will personally come out to discuss your child’s needs with you face to face.

Ultimate Vacation Guide to Disney Parks for Families

Heading to another park or want to see our entire library or Disney content? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacations.

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