Category: Travel + Events

7 outrageous Homeaway rentals that you won’t believe are real

When you think outrageous family vacations you probably think they’re just for the Pitt-Jolie clan. French villa? Private island? Butlers? Yes please. But now with our newest partner Homeaway and their “Million Ways to Stay” Contest, you could travel like the rich and famous too. And even bring the kids. Here, we’ve tracked down 7 totally insane Homeaway rental properties that we think families will go nuts for. And you could stay at any of them if you win Homeaway’s contest – check out all the details below.  And uh, we’ve used Homeaway ourselves to book our own family vacations, but we assure...

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What to pack for kids: From spoons to scooters, 9 surprising items that make family travel easier and more fun

It’s officially the season for travel (whoo!) and whether you’re planing it, driving, or taking the subway uptown for a picnic in the park, we’re all for getting out with the kids. A top question from our readers is always “but what do I pack!!??” (Number of exclamation points not exaggerated.) Well, you’ve come to the right place because we’re huge advocates of traveling with kids, and we do it ourselves, a lot. Even Kristen, and she has four of them! So while yes, you need clothes and snacks and crayons, on behalf of our awesome new partner Micro...

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The best things to do in Daytona Beach with families that don’t involve the beach.

Daytona Beach isn’t all NASCAR and college kids on spring break, you know. They also have culture, relaxation, and great opportunities for family bonding, provided you know where to look and are up for adventure.  If your Florida vacation ideas end at Disney World, Universal Orlando, and a crowded ocean hotel, here are some of the best things to do in Daytona Beach with families that you might not find in that soggy brochure kiosk. Having spent some time there thanks to the Daytona Beach Area CVB, I was surprised to discover that Daytona has a lot to offer families with older...

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Family travel tips: How to use Airbnb for your vacation

After checking hotel prices for a recent trip to Los Angeles (yikes), I decided to finally figure out how to use Airbnb for a vacation, after hearing so much about this booming community marketplace for accommodations all over the world. I’m usually a VRBO and Homeaway user for family travel, but after several friends recommended airbnb, I figured it would be worth a try. And I’m thrilled to say that it definitely was worth it. Says my wallet. If you’re planning your family summer vacation or a little getaway with your girlfriends or partner, here’s the inside scoop on some Airbnb booking tips, and...

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Great experience gifts for kids, because memories make for awesome presents.

When we’re asked for ideas for a great gift for the kid who has everything–or even those who don’t–the first thing that comes to mind for me are experience gifts . They don’t have to be expensive at all, or they can be super splurgey. An experience gift can be an activity you do with the kids, or something they do on their own. So broaden your mind if you’re still stumped for gifts–we’ve got some fun idea starters, along with some thoughts on how to package an experience gift so your kids have more to open under the...

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Heading to NY? Free author events for kids at MoMA Design Store NYC!

If you are going to pick the perfect time to visit New York City, you could do a lot worse than fall. The family-friendly options here seem endless this time of year. So whether you live in town or you are building an itinerary for your special Saturday visiting the Big Apple, we’d like to suggest adding the MoMA Design Store to your schedule. Yes, for kids. Set on the charming Spring Street in Soho, the MoMA store has been a long time shopping favorite of ours. We were extra pleasantly surprised to discover that in addition to the killer...

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Baby Buggy Bedtime Bash 2013: The stars were out, and so were we!

Once again, Cool Mom Picks was so happy to support our friends at Baby Buggy on June 4 at the annual Baby Buggy Bedtime Bash in Central Park, and helping them to raise close to $500,000 for at-risk families with young children in need. Wow, did the celebs come out this year, all with their adorable kids. [see lots of fun pics after the jump!] Garcelle Beauvais, Organizers Jessica + Jerry Seinfeld and family, Mariska Hargitay + Debra Messing Clockwise from top left: Nigel Barker; Ali Wentworth + Garcelle Beauvais; Rebecca Minkoff + Gavin Bellour; Molly Sims; Liz Gumbinner...

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Healthy Child Parties: That’s not an oxymoron, mamas.

We’re all familiar with sugar-happy birthday parties and itchy-sad Chicken Pox parties. But we’re excited about the possibility of hosting a Healthy Child Party that makes the moms, the kids, and the doctors happy. If you’re not yet familiar with Healthy Child, Healthy World, it began when Nancy and Jim Chuda sought answers for their daughter Colette’s tragic death from a non-hereditary form of cancer and determined environmental toxins were to blame. The parents met with environmental groups, celebrities, and government officials to protect children from the devastating effects of toxic substances in the environment.  They’re responsible for tons...

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Bike and Roll: Explore Washington DC with the family on wheels

Our family trip to Washington, DC was filled with amazing historical stories, visits to interesting museums…and lots and lots of walking. But we did find a better, zippier way to to see all the major monuments. Take it from our tired feet: this is a fabulous way to sightsee if your kids are old enough to ride a bike. Washington D.C.’s Bike and Roll offers bike rentals (as well as jogging stroller rentals) for folks visiting the nation’s capital. But their guided bike tours are definitely worth checking out if you want to cover a lot of ground, especially with...

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Buy one, gift one, make someone’s day: kindness comes in travel size

We adore this new trend of “buy one, donate one” products, in the model of TOMS Shoes. And now there’s one more, from a mom of two who took a personal tragedy and turned it into a truly inspiring company. After the near-drowning of her three-year-old son, Laura Metro founded WINK (When In Need of Kindness), a buy-one-give-one toiletry bag company.  When you buy one of her gorgeous toiletry bags, a similar one will be donated to Ronald McDonald House Family Rooms. As Laura writes, “When a parent is in those rooms, things are not good.” These toiletry bags help bring...

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What’s new (and awesome!) for families at Azul Beach Hotel

My family’s trip to Azul Beach Hotel in Cancun a few years ago was one of our all-time favorite vacations. And that’s saying a lot, considering we traveled with our (then) three kids under the age of 4, including a 3-month old. Since our first visit, this boutique family hotel has undergone a huge multimillion dollar renovation, and I was thrilled to be invited back to experience it firsthand. And based on what I saw, you’ll want to be sure to add Azul Beach to the top of your list for your next family vacation. Snazzy New Accommodations The biggest...

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Canyon Ranch: Perfect for a babymoon, or just a mama system reboot

I’m no martyr, but after almost a dozen years raising children, it has been pretty obvious whose needs come first on a regular basis. Hint: They aren’t my own. Sound familiar? So when I had the opportunity to spend three days focusing only on me, me, me, I kissed the family goodbye, left mama guilt on the train, and took in all that Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts has to offer. And wow, does it have a lot. While “spa” was the first thing that popped into my head, I was surprised at how much more there is to do...

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An amazing day camp in New York City – even for non NYC kids

Updated with exclusive discount! Imagine sending your kids to a camp where they get to explore all the best sights and sounds of New York City for a week, with a huge educational component. Now imagine that you are visiting New York for a week, and that you can allow your kids to join in while you see your own sights (and shops). Interest piqued? Us too. A day camp called NYC Is My Backyard, created by two former New York public school teachers, is giving more traditional day camps a run for their macrame. With so many amazing...

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The celebs come out for Baby Buggy Bedtime Bash….and so did we!

This week, I was so excited to be able to attend the annual Baby Buggy Bedtime Bash for the first time. This infamous NYC faily carnival and fundraiser supports one of my favorite local charities, Baby Buggy (which Cool Mom Picks readers surely know by now). Founded by the amazingly dedicated Jessica Seinfeld, they do a fantastic job of getting essential gear, clothing and baby essentials to families in need, and we couldn’t love them more. Click over to see some of the cool celebrities we met–and their cute kids–and learn more about how you can help. The sponsors...

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Want to meet Anna Quindlen? Well guess what…

One of my literary heroes has always been Anna Quindlen. She’s not only an amazing columnist, Pulitzer Prize winning  journalist, hard working mom, and now incredible author, she’s an all-around very cool, very inspiring woman. Next Tuesday in NYC, I’ll be hosting a reading and signing for her new book, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake which is a warm, humorous take on motherhood, marriage, girlfriends, our bodies–ya know. All the stuff we’re talking about anyway. Only she’ll say it better. Which is why you’ll want to buy it, then have it signed. If you’re in the NYC area,...

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Get ready to rock your socks off at Kindiefest 2012

For the past few years, I’ve traveled to Brooklyn, grabbed my editor Liz, and headed to the most fun conference filled with some of the best and smartest people making and promoting kids’ music. We do it for love of the genre. And to find great new family-friendly music for you all, so that you have much more to choose from than yet another rendition of You Are My Sunshine sung by an off-key puppet.  But this is much more than an insider’s only event, and on Sunday, April 29, doors will swing widely open at Littlefield in Brooklyn...

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A vacation resort kids club that’s actually educational? Oh yeah.

I have a recurring fantasy these days: it involves the beach, gentle waves, a good book, a nap… and something amazing for the kids to do while all of the above takes place. So I’m about two seconds away from booking this vacation. [don’t miss a huge offer after the jump!] We’ve been fans of the gourmet inclusive Azul Hotels by Karisma in Cancun for a long time (check out Kristen’s experience there with her familyl). And now the hotels are even more family-focused with a very cool Mini Mayans program.  While most kids clubs offer the standard pool/crafts/snacks, the new interactive classes for...

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Keeping it clean

Sippy cup: check. Snacks: check. Wipes: darn tootin’. This is my leaving the house with a toddler checklist, and they come even before my own sunglasses and lip gloss. If wipes are still one of your must-haves when you head out, then, this nifty new carrying case for them can’t hurt. This adorable and bright wipes case by Funktion is both handy and cute. This bag comes from Mommassentials, a new line of mom and baby goods designed to fit a not so frilly family lifestyle. As a woman drowning in princess accoutrements, I am thankful.  We road tested...

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Family vacations off the beaten path – Dahlonega, Georgia

Even though we’ve lived in Atlanta for almost five years, we’ve yet to explore all this area has to offer. And really, the idea of a quick weekend trip without a long car drive is really attractive when funds are low and you’re chasing after a bunch of kids, which is exactly what I discovered when I visited Dahlonega, a small town about 70-ish miles north of Atlanta as a guest of their Chamber of Commerce. With my two older kids in tow, we enjoyed the outdoorsy small town that’s known as the starting point for the Appalachian Trail....

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9 cool and unusual summer camps that teach more than campfire songs

Spring is in the air (hooray!) which means summer can’t be all that far behind. And while the word “summer camp” still fills my head with images of gimp and campfires, your kids’ options now go way beyond the camps of my youth, with specialty camps for just about any interest. Here are some of my favorites that look like so much fun, I wish I could sign up myself. –Christina Science CampLittle scientists can spend their days learning about outer space, solving their own CSI-style mystery, or even figuring out a cure for zombies at Colorado’s Keystone Science Camp....

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10 of the world’s most simple tips for enjoying a Disney vacation with kids

I just got back from a four days at Disney, all expenses paid…by me. Phew. All I can say is, if you’re going to shell out the small fortune to take your children on the vacation of their dreams, you’d best enjoy it ourselves with the help of these simple tips for a Disney vacation with kids. There are plenty of great resources and websites that offer money-saving tips, Fast Pass tips, trip planning advice and more–including Kristen’s great tips about Disneyland. So I thought I’d put together just a few really simple common sense tips, one parent to...

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Planning a family ski vacation. With the actual vacation part.

When my husband decided that he wanted to take a family ski vacation, I was a little hesitant. With four kids who have never seen more than a few inches of snow, we were less than prepared with cold weather kids’ gear. And the thought of finding accommodations for our large family seemed quite challenging. All I could see were dollar signs! But after lots of searching and a few tips from friends, we decided to spend a week at Solitude Mountain Resort just outside of Salt Lake City. And while I didn’t actually get on the ski slopes...

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New Year’s Resolution Help – More family time

One of the biggest resolutions we’re seeing this year is a commitment to spend more quality time with family. The reality is that even for a homeschooling mom like me, our lives are so busy and interests so varied, we have just as much difficulty wrangling everyone into the same room for some downtime as any other family. So in an effort to bring more cohesiveness and fun to our family unit (without a lot of groans and eye-rolling), I’ve pulled together five ideas to get us all together in the new year. –Christina {photo} Food for thought Since...

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The ins and outs of South Walton Beach – bring sunscreen, not your passport

Growing up on the East Coast, our family beach vacations were always limited to the Jersey Shore (no, not that one), where the beaches were crowded and the water was pretty cold, even in the dead of summer. It wasn’t until I was living in the Deep South and met my husband, who had spent some time in the Pensacola, that I’d really heard anything about the Gulf Coast beaches. The soft sand! The gorgeous water! Recently, the folks at Visit South Walton invited me and family down to enjoy a few days of sun and sand check out...

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NYC Parents: A perfect excuse to get a sitter Monday night

If you’re a NYC area parent in need an adult night this week (and who doesn’t?) we have a fabulous idea for you –the annual PS8 Author’s Night to Celebrate Reading Monday night at Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO. Stop by for very fun night of champagne, nibbles, and a night of literary greatness with short readings from authors like Tad Friend, Ada Calhoun, Phoebe Potts, Stacy Morrison, Ned Sublette, Alice Bradley, and even Cool Mom Picks’ own Liz Gumbinner. A suggested $25 donation gets you access, with a $50 donation helping to sponsor a PS8 student for their...

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Stowe – One more reason to LoVermont

At a time when every American town is starting to look like every other American town, with the same clothing stores, coffee shops (ahem) and fast food chains, it’s nice to know there’s one that’s still alive with a fierce independent spirit, small town charm, and all the hospitality a family could want. It’s been years since I had been up to the lovely town of Stowe, Vermont and on a recent weekend, fall foliage in glorious bloom, I fell in love with it all over again. Stowe feels like the last indie town in New England, with tons...

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The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation – still fighting

I still remember so vividly the courageous story of Elizabeth Glaser, her children, and their own public fight with AIDS 20 years ago. She was the first person to reach out to Congress, in fact, on behalf of children afflicted with the disease. So I’m thrilled to learn that her work continues all these years later through her wonderful foundation. And it’s a great one to know about, especially now as the year rolls to a close. Yesterday, I had the joy of attending an amazing, celebrity-studded family benefit for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, called the Kids4Kids...

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Kiwi Crate: Surprise! Supplies!!!

If you’ve seen our posts about Birchbox for beauty junkies, Foodzie tasting box for gourmands, and most recently, the Umba box for all kinds of mamas, you’ll recognize that monthly subscriptions are all the rage. And now, there’s one meant just for our kids, that you’re going to love as much as they do. Welcome to the world, Kiwi Crate! Kiwi Crate, just launched this week, is a wonderful new subscription service for kids, created by parents. Each month, you’ll receive at least two inspired activities and materials designed to get them to create and explore. Just in time for winter....

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NYC area parents: Come see us at the New Parents Expo this weekend!

If you’re a NYC mom or mom-to-be, you’ll want to clear your calendar one day this weekend for the New Parents Expo at Pier 92, hosted by our friends at New York Family Magazine. You’ll find more than 100 exhibitors featuring the best brands and services for pregnant and new moms, babies and toddlers. Plus a stroller test track and tune up, a play area for your kiddos, and tons of awesome prizes. As in, you could walk out with a $1500 nursery from giggle, a free spa weekend getaway, a professional photography session, and a ton more. Plus...

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Mommy Poppins expands. Boston and LA moms, rejoice!

When I first discovered Mommy Poppins I remember thinking, oh finally–a non-pretentious guide to all the best things to do around New York and the NYC area. There is rarely a week in which I fail to check the site to find free activities, special events, and great news about goings-on around town that my kids will love. Now? They’re in LA and Boston too. Whoo! Mommy Poppins LA and Mommy Poppins Boston offer the same great, searchable nav. You can check activities by age, neighborhood, type of activity or date. Or just keep an eye on the handy...

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