#KIDSNTRIPS Twitter Party (And Giveaway!) June 9 — California Road Trips!

2014-11-26 Cora in SF
Cora’s first travel experience was a road trip to San Francisco when she was barely a month old. We cruised up Interstate 5 from San Diego to the Bay Area to visit with friends I’d made when I lived there several years prior. And we’ve been making that trip a few times a year ever since. But as good as it feels to be able to get to San Francisco by dinner time, there’s a lot more to see in California than I-5. California is a magical blend of iconic destinations, jaw dropping Instagram photo opportunities, endless sunshine, best in class theme parks, best in class cities, and natural wonders that will change your thinking about the world and yourself.

Visit California has teamed up with KidsNTrips to talk about California Summer Road Trips. We hope that you will join us, not only to take your shot at winning the hotel stay in San Francisco and four San Francisco CityPasses, but to learn about this great state of ours and share some of the hard-won family road trip tips and pics you’ve garnered while traversing California.


California for Adventurous Families

When we leave California to travel, I’m always hunting for activities fit for a 7-year old adventuress. But what about right here in the this Golden State that I was born in? There are so many opportunities that you could create a bucket list without leaving our borders. We’ve been horseback riding in Lake Tahoe, skiing in Mammoth, took a pool break or two in Palm Springs, and went whale watching in Dana Point. This is barely a knick on the tip of the ice berg of what California has to offer. The options are near endless. If you have some extra time this summer, plan a California family road trip. Here are a few ideas to get your itinerary started:

  • Camping under the redwoods at Redwood National and State Parks
  • Ride horses along a windswept beach in Mendocino County
  • Train to be a volcanologist at Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Rafting the American River in Gold Country
  • Spelunking, climbing and zip-lining at Vallecito
  • Rock climbing, Joshua Tree
  • Fly-fishing, Lake Tahoe
  • Skateboarding, Orange County


Hollywood celebrities aren’t the only stars in California. Here’s a view of the stars at Shasta.


Mammoth Lakes is just as beautiful when there’s no snow on the ground.


Adventure awaits in California’s mountains, deserts, urban jungles, and the beaches that exist as the ultimate backyard retreat. Everything is close by, but getting there can give you a feeling of elation like you’ve reached the ends of the earth. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are some cost-cutting tips:

Kids Free San Diego

12 Great Beaches for Kids


2014-11-26 Cora in San Francisco Marin Headlands from Jen Leo on Vimeo.

California Summer Road Trips Twitter Party

Take a virtual road trip across this beautiful and varied sunny state with us during a Twitter Party with Visit California this Thursday. There is no need to RSVP, just follow the #KidsNTrips hashtag and join the conversation!

Date: Thursday, June 9, 2016

Time: 9:30 am Pacific Time (10:30 am Mountain Time; 11:30 am Central Time; 12:30 pm Eastern Time)

Hashtag: #KidsNTrips

Theme: Summer Road Trips with Kids

Hosts: Be sure to follow @TravelMamas@JenLeo@LaJollaMom, and @VisitCA

Sponsor: Visit California

Special Guests: @travelbabbo@honeyandlimeco, and @tripswithtykes

Giveaway Prize: A $300 Visa gift card to use on a hotel stay in San Francisco + 4 San Francisco CityPasses

Restrictions: Must be 18+ to win. Open to U.S. residents only. No purchase necessary to win. Prize will be awarded to one lucky #KidsNTrips Twitter Party participant. Winner will be chosen at random and notified via Twitter shortly after the party. Read additional prize terms and conditions.

Learn more: Not sure what a Twitter party is or why to participate? Learn more about #KidsNTrips family travel Twitter parties now!

A Note from Jen Leo: I will receive compensation related to this post and the upcoming #KidsNTrips Twitter Party from Visit California. All opinions are mine.

#KidsNTrips Twitter Party March 5 – Atlantis Resort Giveaway!

Atlantis KNT Promo March

It’s time to get excited! Our #KidsNTrips Twitter party has another opportunity to introduce the fantastic Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas to more moms and dads like you. Have you been? I’ve been three times with my family and it continues to be an oasis of fun! What’s my favorite part? The fact that there is a way for kids (and adults) of all ages to have a great time. Join our Twitter party this Thursday as we talk about Spring Travel. Our sponsor, Atlantis Resort, will be giving away a two-night stay. Woohoo! But for the rest of us who are not lucky enough to win (as hosts we’re not allowed to) this is the season for grabbing Atlantis Resort rooms at remarkably low rates. Read on!

Spring Travel Twitter Party, sponsored by Atlantis Resort

Hosts:   @JenLeo  @LaJollaMom @TravelMamas @Atlantisresort 

Special Guests: @almostfearless (from AlmostFearless.com), @mattvillano (from WanderingPod.com) , and @ruralmoms (from RuralMom.com)

Hashtag: #KidsNTrips

Date: Thursday, March 5, 2015

Time: 9:30 – 10:30 am Pacific Time (12:30-1:30 pm Eastern Time)

Topic: Spring Travel

Giveaway Prize: Two-night stay Atlantis Resort vacation for two people in The Bahamas ($1,000 approximate value; includes free access to the amazing 141-acre water park, Aquaventure and the marine habitats at the resort)

Restrictions: Must be 18+ to win. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) only. No purchase necessary to win. Blackout dates apply. For use through December 2015. Airfare and any food and beverage excluded. Read additional prize terms and conditions.

Learn more: Not sure what a Twitter party is or why to participate? Read our Twitter party tips now!


DEALS | Spring and Summer vacations on sale!

  • Spring Sale – Rates from $179 and up to a $200 Resort Credit + $150 in free culinary experiences.
  • Summer Sale – Save up to 50% nightly and up to a $200 Resort Credit + $150 in free culinary experiences.

Rush on over to the Atlantis Specials page and you’ll find sales and additional amenities for travel up to 50% off through Summer.

TESTED | I looked at the Spring Sale. Book travel by March 4 for travel through June 20 with rooms starting at $179/night. This price is for the Beach Towers at 275 sq. ft. per room. I found a package for May 27-31 for a total of $1060.20 including $344 for taxes and fees. For a little bit more you can have the Coral Towers, and for a little more than that you can have the Royal Towers where I was lucky enough to stay on our past trips. What I liked about our stay in the Royal Towers is that it was closest to the Splashers Kids Pool and the Atlantis Kid Adventures club. If you were to book the Royal Towers for the same dates in May, I found Terrace View Rooms starting at $279/night before tax. What makes these packages extra appealing are the special perks. Staying at Atlantis already gives you access to the 141-acre water park, white-sand beaches, 11 pools, world-class casino, over 21 dining options, duty-free shopping & more! With the Spring or Summer sale you also get up to $200 in resort credit, $150 in a free culinary experience, and “Kids eat Breakfast and Dinner free” with the purchase of an adult meal plan.


Bahamas3Squirts BahamasSplash



If you have little kids between the ages of 3-6 sign up for the Sea Squirts program. Cora had a blast learning how to safely walk around baby sting rays and feed them, too. She also got to feed baby sharks (from the side of the water). She made friends at Splashers and had a blast in the Atlantis Kids Adventure club. If you have older children, no sweat. There are so many different pools, waterslides and river rafting opportunities for free all around the Aquaventure Waterpark. They can also a gamer’s area, pottery studio, free movie theatre, teen nightclub, scuba and Snuba excursions and more! Find out what experiences are right for you children with their age appropriate activities.

Moms and Dads, you’ll want to book your reservations early for dinner out. Enjoy Nobu, Mesa Grill, Olives and more celebrity chef restaurants right there at Atlantis. Need some alone time? The Atlantis Kids Adventure club has night time activities, too!

Atlantis Aerial


If you’re looking for more adult fun, don’t miss Chelsea Handler coming to perform May 23 and a concert with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett on June 13! That’s just a few of the special entertainers appearing at Atlantis Resort.

Condé Nast Traveler 2014 Hot List: Best Family Hotels

HighRes CN Traveler May 2014

Just because you have kids, doesn’t mean you need to compromise comfort or style when it comes to your vacation. Condé Nast Traveler released their 18th annual Hot List and I couldn’t wait to find out who made the grade for the Family Travel category. To create this list of the top 33 hotels in the world editors considered 510 hotels in 400 cities and 93 countries. They wanted the hotel to have a sense of place, personality and intuition.

So, who are the best family hotels of 2014?

Andaz Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica
La Bandita Townhouse, Italy
Palihouse Santa Monica, Los Angeles
Ritz-Carlton, Aruba

Dang, I don’t know how they narrowed it to four. But fingers crossed we get to try them some day! Did you visit a new hotel in the past year with your family that was deserving on getting on the list? Tell us in the comments which hotel you would’ve included on the list if you were one of the editors.

But hey, the rest of the list is worth drooling at too. They’ve got categories for the best “Beach Hotels,” “Bargain Hotels,” “Food Hotels,” and “Over the Top Hotels.”

Here’s the full 2014 Condé Nast Traveler Hot List.

Fodor’s Hotel Awards

fodors 100

Fodor’s Travel recently named the 2013 Fodor’s Hotel Award Winners, which included hotels from around the world. According to Arabella Bowen, Fodor’s Travel executive editorial director, “To compile the Fodor’s 100, we look for properties within emerging destinations, trends our editors have been seeing throughout the year, new and noteworthy openings, and enduring favorites to create a list that will inspire all types of travel and traveler.”

This year’s list has been broken up into eight categories: Enduring Classics, Creative Conversions, Culinary Gems, Home Suite Homes, Sleek City Addresses, Local Characters, Exotic Hideaways and Blissful Beach Retreats. While you can access the full list here, the editors at JenLeoDals.com have carefully chosen one hotel from each category to feature.

Enduring Classics
“Enduring” is the perfect term for The Peninsula Hong Kong, which is described by Fodor’s as “an oasis of old-world glamour—opened in 1928.” As the island’s only historical five-star luxury hotel, this oasis of calm amidst the bustling city sits on the harbor, with outstanding views, outstanding service, and the perfect blend of east-meets-west.

Creative Conversions
According to the Travel Channel, Croatia has become the fastest growing Mediterranean tourist destination, and the Hotel Vestibul Palace could be one of the reasons. This creative conversion is made up of three palaces from three different eras in the Old Town of Split. It marries the new with the old, with modern touches interspersed with that of the Romanic, Gothic and Renaissance periods of the castles.

Culinary Gems
The lone Las Vegas entry in Fodor’s 100 is the new Nobu Hotel, a boutique hotel located within the Caesers Palace property. This hotel within a hotel sports 181 rooms and suites, has its own check-in lobby and dedicated concierge, as well as the largest Nobu restaurant in the world (hence it being named a culinary gem). The rooms, envisioned by Chef Nobu and partner Robert DeNiro, provide guests with complimentary valet service, priority access to Nobu, and free access to both PURE nightclub and the Qua Fitness Center.

Home Suite Homes
This category pays tribute to small boutique hotels with fewer than 40 rooms, and while there is a wide range of locations among the honorees, we were most impressed by Fazenda Nova in Tavira, Portugal. Sitting among 25 acres of olive groves and fruit orchards, this converted farm has a wide array of amenities and is located near both beaches and the country’s Algarve vineyards. Described as “affordable chic,” Fazenda Nova has a mere 10 suites along with a restaurant that serves seasonal dishes, inspired by the kitchen garden and orchards on the property, as well as the nearby ocean.

Sleek City Addresses
In contrast to the rural Fazenda Nova mentioned above is the ME London, an upscale, avant-garde hotel centrally located along the Strand. Part of the Melia Hotel Group, the ME London is a high-tech modern masterpiece, boasting 157 rooms, two New York-based restaurants, and a location that puts you near theaters, shopping, trendy nightclubs, as well as a bevy of tourist destinations.

Local Characters
The Volcano House on the Big Island of Hawaii nailed this category, which features “one-of-a-kind properties [that] specialize in immersive experiences that push beyond the typical hospitality formula.” Sitting on the rim of the Kilauea caldera in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano House may be the oldest hotel on the list, with its first incarnation beginning in 1846. The hotel, with only 33 rooms, recently underwent a major rehabilitation  and reconstruction implementing sustainability initiatives and providing simple luxury with gorgeous crater views.

Exotic Hideaways
The exotic locales in this category run the gamut from Bali to Zambia but our attention strayed to a retreat in the Kingdom of Bhutan, a tiny little country located in the eastern Himalayas. Uma by Como is located in Punakha, a less-traveled area of the country that only has 750,000 residents. Twenty-nine luxury rooms and private villas occupy the property, set amongst the forested mountains, all with stunning views of the Punakha Valley.

Blissful Beach Retreats
To round out the eighth category is an entry from Central America, El Secreto in Ambergris Caye, Belize. Opened just last year, El Secreto has only 13 private villas combining a rustic exterior with a luxurious interior. The opportunity for adventure abounds here, with the Caribbean outside your door where you can kayak, dive, snorkel, fish and swim. Nearby nature preserves and archeological ruins await exploration on foot or by bike. Relaxation can also be yours, lounging on the white-sand beach or partaking in a massage or spa ritual at their Ikal Spa.

San Diego: Bayfair Festival in Mission Bay

Mission Bay will be the place to hang out this weekend at the 49th Annual Bayfair Festival. San Diego’s oldest and largest festival, this three-day event (September 13-15) centers around boat races, most notably the thunderboats and the piston-powered boats of the Grand Prix West. But the real stars of the weekend are the H1 unlimited hydroplanes, considered the fastest watercraft in the world with speeds exceeding 200 mph.

For those who prefer land-based sports, freestyle motocross exhibitions—featuring top freestyle motocross riders Jimmy Fitzpatrick and Derrick Garland of Metal Mulisha—will be performed three times daily, with a special course set up to allow for some sick tricks and aerial maneuvers. The Freestyle Moto X exhibition takes place Saturday at noon, 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Sunday at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

In addition to the fast action, festival goers can enjoy live music, food, and cocktails. This year, there are two concert stages (Crown Point and East Vacation Island) that will feature 28 local bands, running the gamut from country to rock to hip hop. For those 21 and over, a craft brew festival will take place on Crown Point and will also offer specialty foods from around the world.

Kids are not forgotten at this festival, with a specially designed Kids Expo Zone at Bayfair on Crown Point.

The full schedule of events for the San Diego Bayfair can be found here.

Bayfair Festival
: Crown Point, West Mission Bay, San Diego
: Friday September 13 to Sunday September 15
: $25/general, $45/3-day pass, $20/3-day pass Military (available here)