We just returned from one of our favorite spots in Zakopane, entry point to Poland's stunning Tatra mountains. On the first night of our four-day stay, my 7-year old asked, "can we stay for two months?" My kids absolutely adore the Tatras, not only for all for all of the beauty and fun winter and summer-time activities it has to offer, but also because of our choice of lodging - the Tatra Chalet. With multiple trips to the Tatras under our belts over the last few years, I want to shout from the mountaintops (and I could, literally, if I was there right.now) what makes our vacation time there so fantastic, so that others can find the same joy and respite in this spectacular place.
Whenever a long weekend comes around, I check Google Flights for cheap tickets from Krakow to another close-by European destination. After all, you can get from Krakow to Stockholm direct in under 2 hours for under $50/person round-trip. And when we were looking for a place to spend our fall break, we settled on Italy because flights to Bologna were only $75/person round-trip. Stupid cheap airfares, short flights - and just like that, you are in eating the most amazing kannelbular (cinnamon rolls) in Sweden or dancing in the medieval squares of Tuscan hill-top towns. We did this for our first two years in Krakow - nearly every break the kids had, we jetted off to another country. And it was fantastic.
After the first part of our week which included visiting the picturesque, tall-towered town of San Gimignano, biking the medieval city walls of Lucca, and running free on the lawn in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we geared up for another three fabulous Italian towns: Siena, Florence, and Pienza.
Romantic hilltop towns. Medieval town squares. Vineyards as far as the eye can see. Farm-to-table restaurants. Italian wine. Pecorino cheese. Olive groves. Ahh, Tuscany.
We just returned from a wonderful week in this paradise. We explored seven towns in seven days, ate fabulous food, and ran free in the most beautiful town squares. We visited family farms, saw saffron-picking and cheese-making in progress. We explored old fortresses and cycled along ancient city walls. We ate gelato every.single.day. The kids filled their pockets with olives, wine corks, acorns, and fall leaves. After all, it's the simple memories that are sometimes the most treasured ones.
After a perfect family beach vacation to Mallorca in 2016, we found it hard to consider anything else but going back in 2017. Hundreds of stunning beaches, beautiful landscapes, crystal clear water . . . you can read all about that here.
And then my husband threw a wrench in things, "how about we try some place new?"
What? Did I just hear that right? I was so set on going back to Mallorcan perfection, that I hadn't even given thought to some other beach locale. We looked at our options, and ultimately we decided to throw caution to the wind and try some place new.
I could give you a dozen good reasons to visit Ireland. That's easy. It's not hard to convince anyone to travel to a land of such magical beauty, where the Guinness and whiskey flow, the castles are stunning, the coastline is rich and varied, and the bacon is even better than normal. And I know what you're thinking. How can bacon taste better? But believe me, in Ireland it is better.
Trapeze flying, batik painting, and organic vegetable planting. Milk and cookies at turn-down. A bakery with a selection of old-school American candy. A pool with water fountains, giant turtles, a life guard-assisted slide, and continuous bubbles. Free popsicles from 12-3pm every day. A fantastic kids' club. Giant scoops of ice cream atop home-made waffle cones. You guys, if you are planning on visiting Phuket with your family, this is the place: the JW Marriott Phuket.
Our family has a great love affair with Thailand. After all, we were married in Thailand, two of our three children were born in Bangkok, and the third was only four months old when we arrived in Thailand. Just so you know, with Thailand, I cannot be objective. I will always be biased. It is such a wonderful country to visit - especially with kids.
If you are looking for a family vacation mecca in the middle of the Med, look no farther than Mallorca. We would go every single year if we could. With stunning scenery, a dramatic coastline, secret coves and shallow, clear water, Mallorca is the perfect family vacation, particularly if you have young children.
Venice . . . ahh, Venice. The mere mention of the name of the city evokes a certain je ne sais quoi. Magic, romance, glamour, exclusivity. It is the perfect place for a honeymoon, a marriage proposal, a trip back in time, a romantic get-away. But Venice as a family destination? A place to visit with kids? Blasphemy!
If you loved to travel pre-kids, you probably got a big shock the first time you traveled with kids. Goodbye vacation, hello stressful multi-tasking of the whereabouts, safety, and happiness of little people amidst canceled flights, busy airports, and a foreign place where you don’t speak the language.