Are you and your family ready to hit the slopes this winter? Thanks to last week's early season storm (and of course the snowmaking machines), our favorite Tahoe ski destination, Northstar California Resort will open early this year.
The ski and snow fun start this Wednesday, November 14. Four lifts will be open, as well as a beginner magic carpet lift for new skiers and riders. Ski school, on-mountain dining, and Northstar's 9,000-square-foot ice skating rink will also be open starting Wednesday, and of course all the dining and shopping in the Village, too.
Learn more about what Northstar has to offer for familes in our article here. We're looking forward to heading back up later on in the season, toasting some marshmallows for s'mores at one of Northstar's fire pits, and meeting Marsh Mellow, the Northstar marketing wonder dog (pictured here—my daughter's obsessed with him).
One of our favorite destinations for a quick family getaway is California's Gold Country in the Sierra Foothills. It's a relatively short 3 hour drive from the Bay Area, and there are plenty of things for families to do. You can visit historic mining towns, pan for gold, explore caves, go wine tasting (for mom and dad, of course), take a ride on a 19th-century steam train, hike, fish, and more.
The highlight of our visits to the Gold Country always Columbia State Historic Park in the Tuolumne County town of Columbia. In fact, much of Columbia is the park itself. While most of the small Mother Lode towns along Highway 49 are filled with California history, Columbia takes this to an extreme—its downtown has been preserved to represent its mid 19th-century heyday, and in fact it's the best preserved Gold Rush town in California.
Columbia is kind of like California's answer to Colonial Williamsburg, but on a smaller scale. It's a fantastic place for families with children since there's a lot to do and see. The downtown state park part of Columbia is also closed to vehicular traffic for much of the year (stagecoaches excepted), so it's safe and families literally have the run of the place.
Is your child a Thomas the Tank Engine fanatic? If so, your chance to experience all things Thomas & Friends and even take a ride on a train drawn by Thomas the Tank Engine himself is coming this summer! Tickets are on sale now for Day Out with Thomas: Mystery on the Rails Tour 2012, which takes place over two weekends on July 27, 28, and 29 and August 3, 4, and 5 at Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
You can take a train ride, meet Sir Topham Hatt, enjoy live music, take in some storytelling, get a (temporary) Thomas & Friends tattoo, create with Mega Bloks, and even watch videos. There's something for everyone. Of course there are also plenty of ways available to separate you from your cash, with just about every conceivable Thomas & Friends product available for sale.
We attended Day Out with Thomas a few years ago and had a grand time. It's busy (bordering on chaotic, but in a good way), fun, and there's definitely no lack of things to do. When we took our ride with Thomas we got seats in the coach just behind him—try to do this if you can, because you can't see him very well from anything more than two cars back or so.
Last week we had the opportunity to head back up to the mountains and experience Northstar California Resort during the summer. When we visited back in the winter, we thought that the summer activities offered at Northstar sounded just as fun as the winter ones, so we were determined to go back once school was out. We did, and we had a fantastic time during our visit!
Northstar is an exciting destination for a family summer getaway, with lots of things to do including mountain biking, hiking, geocaching, roller skating, and more. The summer vibe at Northstar is definitely more laid back than it is during the ski season, but it's still a bustling place, with hikers and mountain bikers gathering by the gondola to head up onto Mt. Pluto for outdoor fun.
When you've had enough of the wilderness, come back down the mountain and take advantage of some of the fun to be had in the Northstar Village.
During our visit to Tahoe's Northstar Calfornia Resort, we stayed right in the Village itself. The Village serves as the hub of activity at Northstar, and it's a fantastic place in which to stay and to hang out when you're not skiing. It may even be worth a trip in its own right, regardless of whether you're skiing or not. There's a lot to do here, and it's the ideal place for families to stay, play, shop, and dine when they're not up on the slopes. We loved the fact that we didn't have to leave the resort—everything, from ski equipment rentals to dining, was literally right outside our door.
The Village itself has a charming atmosphere—kind of like a small European town with a rustic Sierra Nevada twist. Plenty of outdoor seating areas invite you to linger in the Village's public areas, where strategically placed fire pits allow you to warm yourself if it's chilly.
Note: This is the first of two articles on our experience this February at Northstar California Resort near Lake Tahoe. The second installment is here.
While it's true that we've been having an unusally dry winter in Calfornia, it's a myth that there's no snow up in the mountains. We spent last weekend at Northstar California, Tahoe's family-friendly ski resort, and they've been busy making their own snow to augment the stuff that's fallen naturally. As a result, the vast majority of their trails and lifts are open, and it's a great time to visit and hit the slopes with the family.
We've been discussing taking a trip up to the mountains for a while, so the kids were really excited to play in the snow and take ski lessons. The fantastic weather, the wide range of family activities and amentities, the magical atmosphere on the mountain and in the Village, and the amazingly friendly and warm Northstar staff all made for a memorable weekend.
Down in the Monterey Peninsula town of Pacific Grove, It's time for the annual Feast of Lanterns festival. Pacific Grove is one of our favorite places to go for a family getaway, and the Feast of Lanterns is an especially magical time to visit this small seaside community billed as "America's Last Hometown" and "Butterfly Town USA." We try to make it there for the Feast of Lanterns at least every other summer.
Taking place primarily on Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30, the Feast of Lanterns is kind of like a combination of the 4th of July, Miss America, Halloween, and New Year's Eve all wrapped into one festive package. It's a big deal down here, and something that's delighted locals and tourists alike in this small coastal town for 106 years. Pacific Grove is one of our favorite places for a family getaway, so why not consider heading down there this summer?
Traveling with an infant or toddler can be a unique challenge, especially when getting them to sleep. Marin parent coach, infant/toddler sleep researcher, and family therapist Angelique Millette has complied the following list of handy tips for traveling with children.
Angelique works throughout the Bay Area and across the country supporting families and helping them meet life's challenges. You can learn more about her and her services at www.angeliquemillette.com.
It's the summer time and many parents have been calling with questions about traveling with their young ones. I've put together a list of tips and suggestions, many of them tried-and-true, by parents:
Back in 2009 we wrote about the proposal to help alleviate California's budget problems by closing 200 of our priceless state parks. Fast forward to 2011 and legislators again propose to shut down 70 of our state parks—25% of California's state parks system—to help trim the state budget gap. This time the closures are permanent, marking the first time in the century-long history of the California State Park system that park closures would be implemented.
This is an incredibly short-sighted, harmful, and embarrassing plan that ultimately will only serve to hurt the state of California, its citizens, visitors, and businesses. Closing parks will have a severe financial impact on nearby businesses that serve park visitors, and the tax revenue they provide. Closure of state parks will also leave them open to potential environmental damage and vandalism.