From the category archives:

Kids Stuff

There’s A Spell For That: How To Magically Transport Yourself To The Land of Harry Potter

by Alan Rider

Is it possible to wear out a DVD?  The question came to mind this past weekend as my son watched Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix for what seems like the millionth time since he opened the package on Christmas morning.  Add his new-found habit of walking around the house practicing his “spells” with a home-made magic wand and I think it’s safe to say we have a die-hard Harry Potter fan in the family.
Which is why I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at the ensuing excitement when I casually mentioned the fact that the Universal Orlando theme park was opening a huge new attraction called “The [...]

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Want Your Share Of The New California Gold Rush?

by Alan Rider

There are certain moments in history I would love to have been present at.  Not the least of which is the frosty morning of January 24, 1848 when carpenter James Marshall found those first few gold nuggets just downstream from the sawmill he was building on American River.
That’s because it was this chance discovery that started the California Gold Rush.  An event that quite literally made the Golden State what it is today.
But you probably knew that already, didn’t you? Well here’s something you might not know:  There’s still plenty of gold in the cold, clear creeks of those Sierra Nevada foothills, just sitting there waiting for someone to [...]

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Why Just Read About History When You Can Live It?

by Alan Rider

While you don’t necessarily want to see your kids jumping out of airplanes (at least I don’t), there are still an awful lot of extraordinary experiences that are decidedly family-friendly.
I was reminded of this while helping my son with his history project this week.  Despite the fact that he goes to a great school with some really innovative teachers, I was struck by how even the most creative approaches can still make the subject seem way too abstract to really grab and hold kids attention.
Which is why I thought I’d take a minute to turn you on to three remarkable adventures that are pretty much guaranteed to make those history [...]

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Still Play With Trains?

by Alan Rider

I know lots of adults who’ve never outgrown their childhood fascination with trains. And while I don’t have the patience to sit beside railroad tracks for hours with my camera in hand like some of the hardcore rail buffs I’ve met, I’ll admit that I have been known to go out of my way to watch a passing train roll by.
If you’re equally smitten with railroading (or know someone who is), you’ll want to take note of these three new additions to my growing list of extraordinary experiences:
Northern Nevada Railway
There’s no shortage of scenic excursion trains in the world, but this Ely, Nevada museum is the only place I know [...]

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A Real Wild Time—Part 2

by Alan Rider

In the previous installment, I pointed out that you don’t have to travel to remote corners of the globe to have an extraordinary experience.  Well, here’s another example of a genuine once-in-a-lifetime adventure hiding in plain sight at one of San Diego’s most-visited tourist attractions:

Let’s try a little word association.  When I say “San Diego,” you say what?
Anyone who’s ever visited America’s Finest City knows there’s no shortage of ways to fill in that blank.  But I’m thinking of one word in particular: Zoo.  After all, there are good reasons they call it the “World Famous San Diego Zoo,” not the least of which are some of the classic [...]

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A Real Wild Time—Part 1

by Alan Rider

A lot of folks mistakenly assume that having a truly extraordinary experience means spending a ton of dough or traveling to exotic locales.  Today’s post, the first in a two-part series, proves that ain’t necessarily so.

Considering I’m all about hunting down remarkable adventures, it’s probably not all that surprising that I generally tend to shy away from theme parks and similar attractions that cater to the masses. But my recent trip to San Diego reminded me that sometimes, with a little digging, it’s possible to turn up some downright extraordinary experiences even in the most touristy places you can imagine.

Case in point: SeaWorld’s [...]

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Oooh! Sparkly!

by Alan Rider

Cast against the backdrop of all the extraordinary experiences I’ve had over the years, your average hometown Fourth of July fireworks show might seem to pale in comparison.  But, honestly, that doesn’t mean I’m any less interested in being out there oohing-and-aahing right along with everyone else next weekend.  You see, I figure even a bad pyrotechnics display is usually a pretty good thing!
Which is why I thought I’d share this guide to the nation’s best fireworks shows put together by the folks at Travel & Leisure.  I doubt I’ll make it to any of the fireworks spectaculars listed here this year, but you can bet I’m filing them away [...]

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