6 Destinations Perfect for a Family February Vacation

by thehipmunk

With the joys of the holiday season long gone and summer vacation still months away, February is the perfect time to treat the family to some good old-fashioned R&R. And that works out perfectly, because February is also the best time to visit any of the six destinations on this list, where the weather is great, the crowds are small, and the family-friendly sights are very much worth seeing. Whether your family loves NASCAR, whales, live sports, or rainforests, there’s mid-winter fun to be had at any these stellar destinations.

1. Charleston, SC

Great food, Southern charm, outdoor adventure, and historical sites make Charleston an educational and exciting trip for the whole family. February is a particularly great time to visit: The tourist crowds are smaller, the weather is mild (highs tend to be in the 60s or 70s), and the city’s many gorgeous gardens tend to be in full bloom. Visitors can tour the historic district in a horse-drawn carriage, rent kayaks, go shopping, or simply take a stroll through the city’s beautiful downtown. Bonus: In February, flights to and hotels in Charleston are generally much cheaper than in the summer months.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 1.14.07 PM

2. Daytona Beach, FL

February is one of the best times to visit Florida: The temperatures are comfortable (not too hot or too cold), and there are tons of family-friendly activities on offer. If you’re not bothered by big crowds, take in the excitement at Speedweeks, which features stock car racing at the Daytona International Speedway. Race cars not your thing? The city also offers plenty of diverse attractions, from the Kennedy Space Center to water sports, Main Street shopping and entertainment, four-star golf courses, and gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean.

3. Fortuna, Costa Rica

For the family that loves being outside, look no further than gorgeous Fortuna. The region boasts the stunning Lake Arenal in addition to the Arenal Volcano Park, multiple rainforest parks, hiking trails, river cruises, and horseback tours. Visitors can also go on a tour of one of the region’s chocolate making facilities, during which guests will learn about the chocolate making process from harvest to packaging. February is Costa Rica’s dry season, meaning there’s very little rain and warmer temps—so it’s the perfect time to partake in any of these outdoor adventures.

4. Honolulu, Hawaii

The capital of Hawaii boasts stunning scenery, great weather, and a huge variety of indoor and outdoor entertainment options. And if you go in February, you’ll get to skip both the rainy season and the summer rush. In addition to the great beaches, one of the best things about Honolulu is its diverse neighborhoods: Don’t miss the historical attractions in the city’s Chinatown or the Waikiki neighborhood, which is known for its vibrant cultural attractions and unparalleled natural beauty. Or head to Ala Moana to take in the sights at the world’s largest open-air shopping center or relax on the gold-sand beach at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 1.14.45 PM

5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

With clear skies and average February temperatures in the 70s and 80s, Punta Cana is a great destination for anyone who’s sick of the winter cold. Just like any other Caribbean locale, Punta Cana is popular in February—but it’s still an economical option for beach-loving families on a budget. Hotels start as low as $40 a night, and many of the family-friendly resorts are all-inclusive. The vibrant Carnival festival takes place in February, so be prepared for large crowds, great food, and plenty of thrilling attractions. Or avoid the crowds and take advantage of the area’s vast array of water sports, athletic activities, live music, and authentic food.

6. San Diego, CA

Because San Diego lies along the coast, it boasts a pleasant climate virtually any time of year. But February is distinct because it’s one of the city’s sunniest months. The city offers a host of family-friendly attractions, from museums, theater, and art galleries to live sports and athletic activities such as kite boarding, hiking, and scuba diving. The city is known for its eclectic neighborhoods—including the Gaslamp Quarter, Mission Bay, and Old Town—and popular sightseeing opportunities such as Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, and La Jolla Cove. February is also an ideal time for whale watching.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on February 4, 2016.

Best coffee shops in Geneva

photo by CC user Lional Rajappa on wikimedia commons

Heading to Switzerland soon, and want the 411 on the best coffee shops in Geneva? This article will profile four of our favorite cafes of the moment, so you won’t be left guessing during your time in this cute Swiss city…

1) Cafe Restaurant du Parc des Bastions

Dating back to the 19th century, Cafe Restaurant du Parc des Bastions drips history in the same way that its java does.

With an expansive terrace that shines on glorious summer days, and a grand interior that serves as a cosy retreat come winter, this place feels how an Old World European should.

While it has the prices to match, and the cost of quality means that you might wait a bit longer for your food and coffee, the experience of spending a lunch/brunch here is well worth hanging out for a while.

2) Cafe de la Presse

Formerly a favorite with area newspaper journalists that used to feverish work on stories while sipping an espresso (no longer as the internet wreaks havoc on paper media outlets everywhere), Cafe de la Presse still retains the atmosphere it had through the decor that details its rich past.

The menu serves up simple Italian dishes to go with its wide offerings on the coffee and pastry front, and if you have a love for sports, you’ll love the fact that you can watch the latest football match while you enjoy breakfast or lunch.

Out late on the weekends and need to sober up? This place opens at 4 am, making it the perfect place to pick up a perk-me-up.

3) Remor

Perfectly positioned in Plainpalais with an outdoor patio that makes people watching a breeze, Remor is another great option to while away a summer afternoon in Geneva in style.

Founded by ice cream artisans in the early 20th century, this place remains famous for its delectable selection of the frozen treat, which also includes sorbets, and with abundant free wi-fi and late night screenings of movies by local cinematographers, it serves as a magnet for art lovers and young people.

4) Les Recyclables

Bibliophiles will love Les Recyclables, as this cafe also serves as a second hand bookstore. In keeping with the academic aesthetic of this coffee shop, readings and lectures are a regular occurrence, as are musical performances from artists from a variety of genres. The food is quite excellent as well, so be sure to stop by on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for brunch in this awesome Swiss city.

The 6 Best Hotels for Viewing Niagara Falls

by thehipmunk

The vistas of Niagara Falls have beckoned travelers for centuries. Long visited by newlyweds — and nowadays a mandatory stop for the Instagramming road-tripper — the self-styled Honeymoon Capital of the World has plenty to offer in addition to its thundering falls. Gambling is available on either side of the river, but it has especially blossomed on the Canadian side, which also boasts hotels situated closer to the iconic Horseshoe Falls (hello, views). Meanwhile, the New York side is home to an aquarium, wine trail, and the lushly conserved Niagara Falls State Park. So pick a country, pack your passport for optimal bridge-hopping, and book a room at one of these area hotels which will keep you close to the main attraction.

1. The Red Coach Inn (U.S.)

This historic and cozy English Tudor inn sits alongside the Upper Rapids and is a mere 15-minute walk to the American Falls. With jacuzzi tubs and a full-service restaurant featuring a distinctly old world ambiance that harkens back to its opening in 1923, this alternative lodging is much more than a simple bed & breakfast. The Red Coach Inn also offers a variety of packages for those looking to discover the Falls or simply enjoy a romantic weekend getaway.

2. Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls Fallsview (Canada)

The Fallsview Boulevard District of Niagara Falls, Ontario is home to a number of the area’s best hotels, and for good reason. As the name not-so-subtly implies, it is situated alongside the river and boasts incredible views. It’s also a developed entertainment district, and the Crowne Plaza in particular is a very family friendly choice thanks to its direct access to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. The hotel also sits next door to Casino Niagara and the Rainbow Bridge, which allows access to the American side and is itself a popular landmark. And don’t let its modern furnishings fool you, the hotel formerly known as the Brock Plaza has a long legacy and even hosted Marilyn Monroe during the filming of the 1953 filmNiagara.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 2.49.44 PM

3. Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa (Canada)

The Marriott bears the distinction of being the closest hotel to the main Horseshoe Falls, and it even offers a money-back guarantee if guests on the eighth floor or higher are dissatisfied with their view. The hotel contains a luxurious indoor pool and spa as well as the Terrapin Grille Falls View Restaurant. If you want to get even closer to the water, take a quick walk to the funiculars that will lower you down to the Journey Behind the Falls attraction, where visitors don ponchos and get up close and personal with the roaring mists.

4. Embassy Suites by Hilton (Canada)

Another Fallsview Blvd mainstay, the Embassy Suites by Hilton is next door to the Marriott and a mere block from the popular Fallsview Casino Resort complex. Venture one block past that and you’ll arrive at the Skylon Tower, which offers 360 degree views of the area in case your panoramic hotel view isn’t quite enough. Guests can also unwind at the end of the day with complimentary evening receptions featuring drinks and light snacks.

5. Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino (U.S.)

If you’re looking to do some gambling on the U.S. side of the border, stay at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino for an all-inclusive experience. Furnishings are basic, but the casino attracts top comedy talent and stage shows and is conveniently located to area attractions. Book a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat tour, which lets tourists feel the power of the falls from a distinctly humbling vantage point.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 2.49.33 PM

6. The Giacomo (U.S.)

Situated in a stylish Art Deco building in a central location, the Giacomo offers well-appointed rooms and a cozy fireplace in the lobby for those seeking a boutique hotel experience. Walk to the State Park to explore Niagara’s natural wonders, or to the nearby Aquarium of Niagara for a fun and educational activity. Opt for the Luxury Dining Package and the hotel will arrange meals for your at area establishments, or choose from one of their many other romance, adventure, or entertainment-centric packages.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on February 8, 2016.