March Family Travel Guide
|Dog Sledding in Alaska's Iditarod Race in Anchorage (iStockphoto)|
Camden Snow Bowl, ME
On the coast of Maine, Camden Snow Bowl is one of Maine's oldest ski areas, originally built in 1936. The only reason it has survived so many harsh winters is the popularity of its 400-foot-long ice-coated toboggan chute. This narrow track will have you shrieking as the toboggan drops off the side of Ragged Mountain at 30 miles per hour and glides halfway across Hosmer Pond.
Beaver Creek, CO
Vail might be known for its bowls and challenging runs, but its softer side, Beaver Creek, arguably runs the finest children's ski school in the West. Ski-through tunnels and little slalom courses are several of the programs that make skiing fun. Though Vail is no bore, with a kids snowmobile track, an ice skating rink at 10,000 feet up the mountain, a tubing hill, and Kids Adventure Zones sprinkled throughout the resort where children can ski or snowboard over bumps and twists in themed areas, including an enchanted forest. To top it off, the resort offers fireworks on select evenings throughout the season.
The Iditarod, AK
The first Saturday in March is the official start of Alaska's Iditarod race in Anchorage. More than 70 mushers sign up each year, including, as of 2010, the only five-time Iditarod winner, Rick Swenson. You can join in the festivities in Anchorage or head to Nome, ten days and 1,150 miles later, when the fastest dogsledders and their pups arrive at the finish line.
Harbour Island, Bahamas
One of the Bahamas' best-kept secrets is Harbour Island, a three-mile-long, half-mile-wide speck off the coast of Eleuthera. With 18th-century clapboard houses edged with picket fences, this tiny island looks as if someone shrank Nantucket and plopped it down in the tropics. Aptly named Pink Sands Beach runs the length of the island, speckled with the perfect blush of flamingo pink. Kids can horseback ride along the shores or don mask and snorkel to go eyeball-to-eyeball with the fishies.
Natchez, Mississippi, rests on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi. It's the queen of antebellum architecture, with sprawling plantations and pre-Civil War mansions. Slow down on two wheels to see all the sites. The Natchez Bicycling Center (601.446.7794) rents bikes and leads folks on a 23-mile bicycle route through town to evoke a distinctive Mark Twain-esque vibe lovers of Tom and Huck are certain to enjoy.
Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, FL
Farmers in one of the largest agricultural counties in the United States come together each March to show off their bountiful strawberry crop at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. Theres lots of strawberry shortcake, of course, along with strawberry milkshakes, strawberry sundaes, and strawberry cobbler. Also on tap are parades, country and rock music, pig races, carnival rides, and the crowning of the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen.
Boyne Mountain Resort, MI
Talk about a great combo. Boyne Mountain Resort in northern Michigan is the only ski resort to provide a ski-in/ski-out lodge with an attached indoor waterpark. Junior can spend the morning skiing, boogie-boarding, tubing, and snowshoeing. And when the sun goes down? Welcome to 84-degree warmth in the water. While the kids are busy sliding and splashing, mom and dad can indulge in the Solace Spa.
If youre tired of Disneyworld or Disneyland, then how about a Disney cruise? Ships embark from Port Canaveral, heading to the Bahamas on shorter trips and the Caribbean on weeklong jaunts. Both boats stop at Castaway Cay, Disneys own private island. On-board activities include swimming at three pools with requisite water slides, science experiments and treasure hunts at the Oceaneer Lab, 3D movies, and nighttime performances in the plush Walt Disney Theater.
Park City's Olympic Park, UT
To truly get a sense of what it's like to be in the Winter Olympics, all you have to do is take an hour-long tour of the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. Standing atop the platform of the K120 Nordic Ski Jump from the 2002 Olympic Games, and looking far down at the landing below, its hard not to be impressed with those athletes (or crazed fools) who attempt this sport. Then there's the bobsled, where Olympians cruised the snakelike track at a speed of 88 miles per hour, and the freestyle skiing venue, where champion aerialists have practiced acrobatic flips and twists in midair. Remarkably, all three events are now open to the public to test their skills. Freestyle skiers can take their lumps on small jumps before they try the big one, wannabe bobsledders can spend $200—for a ride that lasts a little more than one minute. And, ye of proven mettle can sleep at night knowing that the K10, K20, and K40 ski jumps are accessible to amateurs.
With its famed skyline, the shores of Lake Michigan, and the world-class museums and aquarium, any time is the right time to visit the Windy City, even winter. One of the best attractions will require you to stay outdoors, though. Millennium Park is a great space filled with sculptures and art, including Cloud Gate, an impressive metallic jelly bean reflecting the skyline in its mirror-like surface. Kids will enjoy the skating rink and the Crown Fountain, two 50-foot glass towers projecting images of faces spitting out water like a fountain.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication