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Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

Family Vacations

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Hurricane Season 2014: Expert Predictions, But No Consensus

Friday April 18, 2014

NOAA_HurricaneAtlantic.jpgWill the hurricane season of 2014 be quieter than normal or unusually active? It seems to depend on whom you ask. Experts have started issuing predictions for the coming hurricane season. While some say that 2014 will bring fewer hurricanes than normal, at least one pundit is predicting a busier-than-normal season. The bad news: That pessimistic forecast comes from the only expert to get it right last year.

I'll be keeping you posted on predictions for the 2014 hurricane season, so watch this space. The National Hurricane Center will weigh in next month.

Marvelous Family Beaches on the Gulf Coast

Wednesday April 16, 2014

HorsesOnBeach.jpgWhere does your family love to get your fill of beach time? Over the coming months, we'll be highlighting dozens of our favorite kid-friendly beach destinations around the country and beyond.

We're continuing our series on the glorious Gulf Coast, known for its sugary beaches and sparkling turquoise waters. Here's a starter list of fabulously kid-friendly beach towns--with many more to come, so watch this space:

Fabulous Family Beaches in the Sunny Southeast

Saturday April 12, 2014

TheShores_Beach4.jpgDoes your family have a go-to beach or are you open to some fresh ideas? Over the coming months, we'll be highlighting dozens of our favorite family beach destinations around the country and beyond.

We're kicking off our series in the sunny Southeast, home to a dazzling array of awesome possibilities from the Carolinas to the tip of Florida and up the Gulf Coast. Here's a starter list of wonderfully kid-friendly beach towns--with many more to come, so watch this space:

Spring Road Trips to Take Right Now

Wednesday April 9, 2014

nullFeel like taking a road trip this weekend? Death Valley is looking stunning these days, thanks to a wildflower bloom that's more vibrant than usual. The National Park Service reports that California's desert park is reminiscent of a Monet painting, with shades of gold, pink, purple, orange and white dotting the landscape. According to the NPS's Wildflower Update, the bloom is a result of rainfall in the higher elevations of the park, znd the Park Service is predicting the colorful show will continue through the summer.

Want more inspiration for where to hit the road? Check out 7 Spectacular Spring Drives with Kids.

Daytona Beach: Spectacular Sunrises Without Sticker Shock

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Sunrise in Daytona BeachLooking for an affordable family beach destination? I just returned from four gorgeous days in Daytona Beach, a laid-back Florida beach town that became famous as the party backdrop for "MTV Spring Break."

Twenty-five years since the series left Daytona, the college spring breakers are long gone. They've been replaced by happy families who come to enjoy an impressive number of ways to have affordable fun, from zip lining in Tuscawilla Park to stand-up paddleboarding on the Halifax River to building sandcastles on the "world's most famous beach." The perfect spot on that beach just may be Sun Splash Park, a public space with a shady playground, splashpad, interactive fountain, picnic tables and--gasp!--even free parking.

In nearby Ponce Inlet, you can climb 203 steps to the top of the historic Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and visit the seat turtle hospital at the Marine Science Center. For a family of four, admission to both attractions costs less than $30.

For more on this budget-friendly beach town, check out my Daytona Beach vacation planning guide:

3 Ways to Get "Frozen" On a Disney Vacation

Friday March 28, 2014

Frozen SweepstakesAre your kids obsessed with Olaf the Snowman? Does your whole family know every word to "Let it Go" (like these firefighters who calmed a scared little girl by belting out the song with her)? Then you, like millions of other families, have been (frost)bitten by the Oscar-winning animated film. Here are three ways to get "Frozen" on your next Disney vacation:

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas: Wow Overload

Wednesday March 26, 2014

QuantumSeas_NorthStar.jpgWe've become used to cruise ships launching with an ever-more-exciting array of bells and whistles, and yet it's hard not to be impressed by Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas. Set to launch in November, the newest ship in RCI's fleet is positively packed to the gills with "first at sea" experiences that will wow families, from the flexible stateroom configurations to lineup of incredible experiences and stunning spaces. Here's a sneak peek at what all the fuss is about.

Washington Monument to Reopen May 12

Tuesday March 25, 2014

Washington Monument

Good news for families planning a visit to DC: The scaffolding surrounding the Washington Monument will be coming down this week in preparation for the Monument's re-opening on May 12. The Monument has been closed since August 23, 2011, due to damage received in a 5.8 magnitude earthquake. It is now in the final stages of the restoration, which included repairs to more than 150 cracks in the structure.

Tickets for tours will be available on the NPS reservation page starting on April 16 at 10 am. The Monument will be open starting May 12 from 9 am until 10 pm until the end of summer.

More Planning Resources for DC and the Chesapeake Bay Area:

50 Years On, It's Still a Small World After All

Saturday March 22, 2014

It's a Small WorldHappy birthday, joyeux anniversaire, and Halala ngosuku lokuzalwa! Disney's "it's a small world" is turning 50 this year, marking half a century of laughter and tears, hope and fears.

I'm quoted in this TODAY/NBCNews.com story about the attraction's milestone celebration. Do you love or hate Disney's iconic cruise attraction? Be sure to vote in the online poll! (Spoiler: The last time I checked, the "likes" were way ahead.)

On April 10, there will be a live "it's a small world" sing-along event at all of the Disney parks. See the TODAY.com story for details.

Coming to a Theme Park Near You for Summer 2014

Friday March 21, 2014

StoryLand_RoarOSaurus.jpgSummer will be here before we know it, and millions of families around the country are eagerly anticipating the latest additions to their favorite theme and water parks. While adrenaline-pumping thrill rides get all the buzz, theme parks are launching a ton of fun new attractions for families with younger kids this summer. And of course, water parks are introducing more ways for the whole family to beat the heat. Here's a partial sneak peek at what's ahead:

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