The Best Amusement Parks for Families in 2017

The Best Amusement Parks for Families in 2017

Family Vacation Critic, TripAdvisor’s family travel site, has just named the Best Amusement Parks for Families in 2017 – naming the best parks in the U.S., and sharing the year’s newest attractions and highlights for every age group.

“Amusement parks are one of the most quintessential summertime activities for families,” explains Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic. “But for those traveling with family members of various ages – including kids-at-heart – finding a park that caters to thrill-seekers and the younger set isn’t always so easy. This list includes parks that successfully cater to both, and those that also have exciting new features for the 2017 season.”

The list of the best amusement parks for families in 2017 include:

  • Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH)
    What’s New: Cedar Point Shores, an 18-acre waterpark located along Lake Erie with 17 water attractions for all ages, VIP cabanas, restaurants, shopping and live entertainment.
  • Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, TN)
    What’s New: Drop Line, a 230-foot tall drop tower, with a spinning gondola that offers riders a breathtaking view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Also joining the park in 2017 is Whistle Punk Chaser, a junior coaster positioned as a great first-coaster for younger park visitors.
  • Hersheypark (Hershey, PA)
    What’s New: Hershey Triple Tower offers three drop towers for park guests to choose from – Hershey’s Tower, the tallest at 189-feet high; Reese’s Tower, is the second tallest at 131-feet high; and Hershey’s Kisses Tower standing at 80-feet tall.
  • Kings Island (Mason, OH)
    What’s New: Mystic Timbers, a 3,265-foot long wooden coaster with a 48″ height requirement – making it an ideal coaster for riders of various ages.
  • Silver Dollar City (Branson, MO)
    What’s New: New Silver Dollar Food Days run from July 31 – August 20, highlighting favorite festival food like funnel cakes, kettle corn and milkshakes, and taking them to new levels.
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure (Orlando, FL)
    What’s New: For guests visiting the park, plan a trip to Universal Orlando Resort’s newest water theme park, Volcano Bay – a 25-acre park featuring 18 unique attractions including a wave pool, winding river, raft rides, body slides and more.
  • Universal Studios (Hollywood, CA and Orlando, FL)
    What’s New: Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon brings guests a simulated race through New York City – a history of The Tonight Show, Hashtag the Panda and the Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet also join in the fun.
  • Six Flags (Nationwide)
    What’s New: Six Flags is unveiling new rides at each of its parks across North America, including Warner Brothers and DC Comics-branded rides and attractions.

About Family Vacation Critic
Family Vacation Critic® is a comprehensive online travel resource for families that offers reviews of family hotels, resort and destinations. The site features vacation ideas, family travel tips and an online forum for family travelers. Family Vacation Critic is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Inc.

Columbia, S.C. Hosts 4-Day Weekend of 50+ Eclipse Events

Columbia, S.C. Hosts 4-Day Weekend of 50+ Eclipse Events

One of the Southeast’s most vibrant mid-sized cities, Columbia, South Carolina is home to the longest total solar eclipse on the East Coast for a metro area and will host Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., a long weekend of more than 50 eclipse-related festivals and events, from Aug. 18 to 21, 2017. Plan your trip at http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.

Dubbed the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast,” where viewers can experience totality for up to 2 minutes and 36 seconds, Columbia, S.C., has been identified as one of the top places in the nation to watch the total solar eclipse by astronomy experts and media such as Fodor’s Travel, USA Today, Forbes, the Washington Post and more.

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Why Wait for the Weekend to Visit a Quaint Fishing Village?

Why Wait for the Weekend to Visit a Quaint Fishing Village?

The quaint seaside town of Morro Bay, California invites travelers to enjoy the many benefits of visiting mid-week this May and June! Avoid the crowds, enjoy the food and wine in over 80 restaurants and take your time shopping at all the unique boutiques.

Life in this small beach town is reminiscent of how California beach towns used to be: charming, relaxed, fun, quirky, yet filled with surfing, sailing, fishing, golfing, and kayaking. There’s so much to see and do in this bustling seaside village including ocean-side golf, kayaking, sailing, hiking, fishing, surfing, whale watching, biking, bird watching, or kite flying. Morro Bay offers activities for all ages to enjoy in an unspoiled slice of California located along coastal Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County.

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Come Ashore This Summer and Soak Up the Sun at the New Cedar Point Shores Waterpark

Come Ashore This Summer and Soak Up the Sun at the New Cedar Point Shores Waterpark

Cedar Point’s rich history began as a simple bathing beach and bathhouse in 1870. Today, Cedar Point still is the summertime destination for families from all over the world with 70 rides, including 17 roller coasters, a mile-long beach, five hotel properties, beautiful marinas and now, the new Cedar Point Shores Waterpark, opened Saturday, May 27.

Located on Cedar Point’s shoreline on Lake Erie, Cedar Point Shores is an 18-acre playground for aqua-lovers of all ages with attractions that provide big thrills, little thrills and the world’s best water thrills. Just like guests cooled off in the summer almost 150 years ago, that tradition continues with new ways to beat the heat, eat, relax and have fun.

“This is a unique time in Cedar Point’s history. As the park evolves with the latest and greatest attractions, we will never lose sight of how we started,” said Jason McClure, vice president and general manager of Cedar Point. “Cedar Point Shores is a direct nod to our past as it existed on the Lake Erie shoreline. Only today, new and exciting thrills are available right alongside the beach that has, and still continues to bring families together.”

Cedar Point Shores is home to 17 water attractions geared for everyone in the family. Thrill-seekers will experience near free-fall on the new Point Plummet, a six-story aqua-drop body slide. Riders first climb into individual capsules at the top of the tower. After an ominous countdown of, “3-2-1,” the floor will drop from underneath riders’ feet and the journey begins through twists and turns in an enclosed tunnel until the splashdown in the runout below. Non-riders can watch the fear in the faces of their friends on special monitors on the ground with video cameras focused on the launch capsules.

On the same tower as Point Plummet, Portside Plunge provides thrills of a different kind, five stories above the ground. Riders can experience the slide alone or with a friend on an inner tube as they’re sent through an enclosed tunnel, then shot out into the sun over unique airtime hills and into a pool at the end of the ride.

What’s known as a legend on Lake Erie is now rising from the shallow pool of Lemmy’s Lagoon, an area geared just for the little ones. Kids can splash and play around “Lemmy,” the mythical, green Lake Erie monster, as well as sandcastles, geysers, whimsical fish and more.

Just next to Lemmy’s Lagoon, Lakeslide Landing is the place where young ones can start their journey to become a big water thrill-seeker. Featuring 12 pint-sized slides, Lakeslide Landing also welcomes its sliders with a shallow pool, making it a great place for parents to interact with their children and cool off at the same time. Expanded shaded areas around Lakeslide Landing and Lemmy’s Lagoon provide relaxing spots for parents to decompress and watch all the fun.

Dining at Cedar Point Shores is an experience in and of itself. The centerpiece of the new culinary experiences is Crystal Rock Café, named after the Crystal Rock Castle that once called Cedar Point home in the early 1900’s. Crystal Rock Café will serve hand-made pizza, fresh chicken wraps, gourmet salads, seafood and items not found anywhere at Cedar Point.

A brand-new custom ice cream flavor is also on the menu at the new Beaches & Cream. The cold and creamy confection is a refreshing hint of cotton candy, a staple at Cedar Point for a large part of its history. The flavor is made in partnership with Sandusky’s own Toft Dairy, creators of the Rougarou mint and chocolate and the Valravn salted caramel ice cream flavors sold inside the park.

Adults can relax with a new custom brew named Shandy Shores, a light and surprising mix of blood orange and mango. Shandy Shores is available at Muffleheads Beach Bar, a swim-up experience right on the waterfront, and at Schooner’s Bayside Bar, a completely new hot spot serving not only frosty cold beverages, but snack items as well.

Setting the mood for Cedar Point Shores’ resort-like atmosphere is a host of live entertainment, including appearances by Cedar Point’s own Toes in the Sand Band and Cedar Point Beach Band. Playing popular favorites that will take guests into the relaxation mindset, both bands will play at select times throughout the summer. In addition, daily activities and games are planned at various locations in the waterpark for guests of all ages.

The new offerings don’t stop there. The waterpark will also debut a new entrance with an artfully-crafted welcome sign and giant beach balls, enhanced midway paths with lush landscaping, more shaded areas for guests to relax, updated changing areas, luxury VIP cabanas alongside the Breakwater Bay wave pool and a new merchandise location, Sandals Souvenirs and Sundries.

With more to do than ever before, guests can play their way for multiple days while staying at one of Cedar Point’s five hotel properties, including the beautiful beachfront Hotel Breakers, located just steps from Cedar Point and Cedar Point Shores Waterpark. Other properties include the cottages, cabins and luxury RV sites at Lighthouse Point, Sandcastle Suites Hotel, Cedar Point’s Express Hotel and Castaway Bay Indoor Waterpark Resort.

A stay at Cedar Point’s hotel properties includes free admission to Cedar Point Shores Waterpark (when a one, two or three-day Cedar Point ticket package is purchased), early access to Cedar Point Shores, Early Entry to Cedar Point to ride some of the biggest rides and coasters, discounted admission to Cedar Point and the closest rooms to the world’s best destination for thrills.

Guests can also take advantage of a summer of fun at Cedar Point Shores with a Platinum Pass. Benefits include unlimited admission to Cedar Point Shores and Cedar Point, Early Entry, discounts on food and merchandise, exclusive ride nights, access to special passholder events at both parks, free parking and more. The best time to purchase a Platinum Pass is right now, as prices go up on May 30.

For more information on Cedar Point Shores, Cedar Point’s hotel accommodations, hours of operation and more, guests can visit cedarpoint.com.

The Sweet Return of Philipsburg

The Sweet Return of Philipsburg

“Montana reaches into your soul,” said Shirley Beck. “It’s just an absolutely fantastic place.”

In Small Town Gem, the newest installment in the Discover Your #MontanaMoment video series from the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, local business owners Dale Siegford and Shirley Beck are leading a revival of the historic town of Philipsburg. The town, which was founded as a prosperous mining community, nearly became vacant following the silver crash of 1892. The residents have since reinvented Philipsburg into an international tourist destination, bringing a second life to this Montana town.

Small Town Gem is the 16th episode in the Discover Your #MontanaMoment video series and can be viewed on VISITMT.COM.

http://www.visitmt.com/campaign/montana-tv/episode-16.html

“When we first started here it was practically a ghost town,” said Dale Siegford, “and it’s developing into a shining little city.”

Dale and Shirley are the owners of the Sweet Palace and The Sapphire Gallery, two local businesses that have sparked a renovation of downtown Philipsburg. Nicknamed “Montana’s Candy Store,” The Sweet Palace offers a delicious taste of the state with a variety of homemade candies, chocolates, and sweets. Located next door is the Sapphire Gallery, which allows visitors to pan for their own sapphires and create customized jewelry with their discovered treasures. Together, Dale and Shirley are leading the sweet return of Philipsburg.

Looking to take a trip to Montana? Check out the cities and towns page for a full list of travel destinations.

http://www.visitmt.com/places-to-go/cities-and-towns.html