A Trio of Fun Family Spring Weekend Destinations
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Spring into your next family getaway by adding a touch of the unexpected to the timeless pleasures of a good old American road trip. Plug one, or all three, of these family destinations into your GPS and you’ll find adventures to keep everybody happy.
Quirky St. Augustine
There’s more to St. Augustine than meets the eye. With its strategic coastal location, once a magnet for plundering pirates, and deep Spanish roots, St. Augustine offers a Florida experience best suited to visitors interested in something beyond the usual. Yes, this town of 12,000 has great beaches, restaurants, historic sites and plenty of shopping. But wouldn’t you rather go gator tracking? Or see the world’s oldest rug? Sure you would.
• Villa Zorayda, a Moorish castle and museum patterned after the Alhambra in Spain, complete with a cursed Egyptian rug woven from the hair of the sacred cats that used to roam the Nile.
• Adrenaline Alligator Adventures, an interactive gator adventure that almost always gets its reptile. Sign on and you’ll be in the middle of the action, helping the pros snag and snare the beast while keeping those sharp teeth at bay.
• Yarrr! The new timber-shivering interactive St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum transports your family back in time to the pillaging and plundering Golden Age of Piracy, complete with gold doubloons and treasure maps.
The cherry blossoms are in bloom until the end of April in America’s hometown, an ideal multi-generational destination. Between the grandeur of the national monuments, the Smithsonian complex and the National Zoo, home to giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and Tai Shan, Washington D.C. has all the bases covered. Just keep in mind that the distance between wherever you are and the Washington Monument is farther than you think. The Mall — the heart of D.C. main attractions — is almost two miles long. And here’s a tip — if there’s a line to climb the Washington Monument, head for the Pavilion at the Old Post Office (Pennsylvania Ave., between 11th and 12th Sts. NW), where the clock tower affords an equally dramatic view. A food court on the main level offers snacks to keep everybody’s spirits high.
• The Newseum, with its section of the Berlin Wall, gallery of Pulitzer Prize winning photos and an interactive newsroom, which gives kids the chance to be an on-camera TV reporter.
• The National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall showcases some 8,000 artifacts including totems and both historic and contemporary art.
• Fly high at the National Air and Space Museum, home to the original Wright 1903 Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, and a lunar rock sample that kids (of all ages) can touch.
Jazzfest in New Orleans
There’s always a party going on in the Big Easy but especially during Jazzfest, the annual music, roots and heritage fest held this year April 29-May 8 at the Fair Grounds Race Course. What’s so special about this music event?
Depending on whom you talk to, it’s a tie between the 12 stages of music and the food, followed by, in no particular order, the people watching, the after-fest shows around town, and did we mention the food? With 2011 headliners including Jimmy Buffett, The Roots, local trumpet sensation Kermit Ruffins and Jersey boy Bon Jovi, Fest is an annual tradition for a legion of locals and music fans of all ages coming together for love of jazz and blues, Zydeco and gospel, and cochon de lait po’boys. Despite the thrumming crowds and weather that can range from gorgeous to blistering and torrential, the vibe is pure love fest.
• Catch a Fest parade by the Mardi Gras Indians, a feathered and bejeweled tribal tradition that dates back more than a century.
• New Orleans still needs a helping hand. With the sixth anniversary of Katrina approaching, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities to aid in the city’s rebuilding. For a full list of options, visit Volunteer Louisiana.