NEW YORK, June 14, 2012 – With school out and options a plenty, the family travel season is in full swing. From zip-lining between the redwoods in Sonoma County or building a sand castle with the sugary sand of Panama City Beach, the diversity of escape options is endless. A sampling of activities and tips appear below as a guide for summer vacation fun all ages can enjoy.
? Family Values with American Express Platinum: Families can maximize their vacation budget when traveling this summer with the Platinum Card from American Express. The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program has exciting options for Platinum Card members including room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out and additional amenities worth a minimum of $450 that could include golf or spa credits. For more information, visit www.americanexpress.com.
? Free Beach for the Families, Atlantic City - The Atlantic City beach, linked to the casinos, shops, and streets by its world-famous Boardwalk, is the cheapest entertainment families can find in the city. The cost to feel the warm sand and cool ocean breeze is FREE! Unlike other East Coast beaches, there are no badges or entrance fees for Atlantic City’s long stretch of sand. Families can also feel safe as AC is known for having the first paid, professional lifesaving squad in the world. The free beaches have lifeguards on duty throughout the summer season between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., so kids can feel safe testing the Atlantic Ocean’s waves. The beach is also steps from the world-famous Boardwalk; featuring the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not! Museum, Atlantic City Miniature Golf and the city’s famous Salt Water Taffy. For more information, visit http://atlanticcitynj.com/.
? Scout Attractions, Collect Souvenir Stamps and Win Prizes in Charleston, South Carolina: The free Charleston Explorers Club program begins at any official Charleston Area Visitor Center, where kids under the age of 18 receive a keepsake passport and list of more than 30 participating attractions. With every visit, they are given a one-of-a-kind passport stamp and secret log in code to move up the Club’s ranks and collect prizes. A sampling of participating attractions includes Fort Moultrie, Middleton Place and South Carolina Aquarium. For more information, visit www.CharlestonFamilyFun.com.
? Families Swing at Montreal Jazz Festival, Canada: The 33rd edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal takes place June 28 through July 7 and the city will be the live music epicenter of the universe. Over 10 days, families can take part over 650 concerts – many free. A special kids’ area with instruments, interactive games and other musical activities for all ages is a family favorite. This year’s performers include James Taylor, Seal and Norah Jones. For more information, visit www.montrealjazzfest.com
? Fantasy Camp in Nassau Paradise Island, The Bahamas: This summer at Atlantis, Paradise Island, kids can enroll in one of several exciting “Fantasy Camps” whether they scrapbook, build Lego blocks, sing their hearts out or even aspire to be a cartoonist at Cartoon Network Studios Fantasy Camp. Located adjacent to Atlantis is the newly renovated Comfort Suites Paradise Island, where a Kids Stay, Play and Eat Free package includes accommodations and all three meals daily as well as access to all Atlantis facilities. For more information, visit www.nassauparadiseisland.com.
? Family Fun in Norfolk, Virginia: Norfolk boasts a lively beach scene with a variety of water-based activities and family-focused festivals. The waterfront and beaches provide a perfect place for families to relax and soak up the sun, kayak, fish, sail, or of course go crabbing. The Ocean View Beach Park is a must-see summer spot particularly with free big band concerts every Sunday evening now through Labor Day. www.visitnorfolktoday.com.
? Water Camp Fun at Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, Florida: Aspiring Jack Sparrows and Jacques Cousteaus can unite at Ocean Reef Club’s Summer Camps water series with a MarineLab for aspiring scientists and activities focused on fishing, sailing and diving. Each program challenges campers during the day or week-long sessions. Parents are invited to partake in the summer fun while the kids are enrolled in camp with well-appointed accommodations at the oceanfront Inn. For more information, visit www.oceanreef.com.
? Sunsational Getaways at Holiday Inn Resort, Panama City Beach, Florida: Located on the sugar-white sand shores of the Gulf of Mexico, this resort is offering families an endless array of activities on land and sea. Kids can enjoy the 3,400-square-foot water playground, Polynesian fire & dance shows, and dive-inn movies. Fun continues into the evening with adult-only karaoke and Vegas-style variety shows for parents. For more information, visit www.visitpanamacitybeach.com
? Zoom on over to the Zoo, Providence, RI - The Roger Williams Park Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the country (since 1872) and has been cited as "one of the outstanding reasons to visit New England" by the Yankee Magazine Travel Guide to New England. Families visiting the 40-acre zoo can see the world’s tallest, heaviest, fastest and rarest land animals - the Masaii giraffe, the African elephant, and the cheetah – all roaming through natural settings. The zoo's population numbers nearly 1,000 animals, with some 165 species on display at any given time, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects. Specialty Zoo Camps researching tadpoles and learning about animal life cycles are also available this summer. For more information, please visit www.rogerwilliamsparkzoo.org.
? Family Chill Time at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa’s Private Cabana Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida: Home of the world famous TPC Sawgrass golf courses, this northeast Florida resort is encouraging families to spend more time on the sand at the private Cabana Beach Club. Now through August, the Club is introducing programming including an interactive Chef Camp, dedicated fitness classes for teens including beach yoga, Pilates and aqua aerobics classes. Babysitting certification seminars are also available. For more information, visit www.sawgrassmarriott.com.
? Fly Above and Cheesy Fun in Sonoma County, California: A family visit to Sonoma County is not complete without a zip-line tour through the world-famous California Coastal Redwoods with Sonoma Canopy Tours. Parents and kids can enjoy a two-and-a-half hour guided tour that includes seven zip lines, two sky bridges, a spiral staircase and 80 ft. rappel. Another family-friendly activity is following the free guide to the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail, learning the art of cheese making and how to buy favorites. For more information, visit www.sonomacounty.com.
Lou Hammond & Associates is an award-winning public relations agency with offices in New York City; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Charleston, S.C. Home to the world’s finest clients, the firm has dedicated more than 27 years to promoting the travel industry. For more information visit www.louhammond.com.
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