City Guide: St Augustine, Florida
Located in the northern part of Florida, St Augustine has the distinction of being known as the oldest continually occupied European settlement in North America. It was founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez and his soldier and colonists, fifty years after Ponce de Leon claimed the area now known as Florida for Spain in the early 1500s. St. Augustine was under Spanish rule until 1763 when Britain took over for 20 years, followed again by Spain until the United States took over in 1821. Florida later became a state in 1845. The St. Augustine area became popular with tourists in the 1820s as a spot to escape cold northern winters, and the popularity grew when Standard Oil co-founder Henry Flagler founded the Florida East Coast Railway and began building hotels, churches, and a hospital throughout the area. Today, St. Augustine is a popular spot to be immersed in rich history and culture and the city offers plenty of family friendly adventures.
10 Marriott Hotels We Love
Our family has been fans of Marriott hotel properties for over 20 years. At first, we started staying at Marriott hotels because of their location; virtually every trip we planned, there was a Marriott hotel nearby (and that still holds true today). Over time, we started to notice the numerous amenities, cleanliness of the rooms, and the friendliness of the staff no matter the property we visited. We joined the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program (in its first iteration) years ago and have accrued many bonuses, perks, and free hotel stays over the years. While we have stayed at literally dozens of Marriott properties from Las Vegas, Nevada to Toronto, Ontario, we typically choose the Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Renaissance, and traditional Marriott brand of hotels. Residence Inns are ideal for families as they offer more space, a full kitchen with a full size refrigerator, full morning breakfast and evening snacks during the week, and pool and laundry facilities on site. Renaissance and traditional Marriott brand hotels usually have full service restaurants, concierge lounges, and other amenities desirable for the business class. This week, we’re sharing 10 Marriott properties throughout America we especially enjoyed and some of our favorite nearby attractions. And check back in the future, we’re hoping to add additional locations.
Kykuit in Sleepy Hollow, New York
Kykuit is a Dutch word meaning “lookout.” John D. Rockefeller appropriately used it as the namesake for the 1908 mansion he built 500 feet above sea level on the banks of the Hudson River. “JDR” Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil and widely considered one of the richest men in history, originally purchased 400 acres at the start of the twentieth century.
Kykuit was home to four generations of Rockefellers until JDR’s grandson Nelson, upon his death in 1979, left Kykuit to the National Trust for Historic Preservation instead of his own children. Now, the Historic Hudson Valley nonprofit coordinates public tours and the house remains as it was in 1979. We’ve been members of the HHV for a couple of years and enjoy exploring their properties and program. One of our most favorite fall traditions is the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor. You can read about our adventures at the Blaze here.
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New Bedford, a small city located in the southeastern part of Massachusetts (about an hour from Boston), is known as the whaling capital of the world, due to the protected deep water harbor of Buzzard’s Bay and ideal transportation routes. Indeed, New Bedford has a rich history in whaling, fishing, and commerce. At its peak in the mid 1850s, New Bedford employed over 300 ships and 10,000 fisherman.
My family recently took a weekend trip to visit the New Bedford area and were pleasantly surprised by the variety of family friendly activities, even in the “off” winter season. I started my research at DestinationNewBedford.org and found lots of helpful advice. I printed copies of the Kids Scavenger Hunt for my kids to complete while we were in town, although you can find copies at many local attractions.
Holiday Gift Guide 2017
This might seem odd: a family travel blogger posting a holiday gift guide? Absolutely! I have been offering advice and my personal experiences to so many people recently, I thought I would share with everyone.
I am a huge proponent of giving experiences for the holidays instead of material possessions.
Why I Love Staying at Marriott Hotels
Airbnb and Homeaway are popular ideas when it comes to housing while traveling and I love the idea of staying in a neighborhood and really becoming part of a community. I also know several people who love hitting the road in their camp or trailer, or even camping in an old fashioned tent, communing with nature. For me, and my husband and young(er) children, it’s less hassle and gives me more of a “vacation” versus “trip” feel to stay in a hotel when we’re traveling as a family. I like the idea of someone making my bed with fresh sheets each day, whipping up breakfast, and helping me navigate around a new place.
My family has become loyal fans of the Marriott company. You’ll read specifics about my favorite Marriott properties in some of my posts, but my favorite brand of the company is the Residence Inn. Residence Inns are designed to feel more like a home than a “regular” hotel room. Plus, they’re consistent in many ways I appreciate: