Tag Archives: San Diego

Best Family Beach Vacations

Best Family Beach Vacations

The best beaches are along  the Atlantic and Pacific Coast.  Here are a few ideas you may wish to consider for your next family beach vacation.



Florida.  From Ft. Lauderdale to Miami Beach, Florida is a prime resort area for family vacations.  With perfect weather and miles and miles of beaches, this area is affordable, diverse, and has a variety of water-sports, restaurants, and a myriad of activities for children. Cocoa Beach is only an hour away from the Kennedy Space Center and Disney World.  In addition, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is one of the best in Florida.



Myrtle Beach.  Among the many favorite activities for children include: Ripley’s Aquarium, Le Grande Cirque, a show quite famous for its acrobatics and other circus performers; and Myrtle Waves Water Park.  For older children, a definite must-see is the NASCAR Speedpark.

The number one choice for  family beach vacations in the U. S. Is Myrtle Beach. There are many dining options, shopping and historic sites to see.



Hamptons.  One of the most affordable vacations for beach-loving families is East Hampton, New York.  The best place to stay is at the East Hampton House.  The rooms are available in one and two bedroom units that contain fully equipped kitchens and/or kitchenette.  Moreover, you have privileges at the nearby beach that are available to all guests.

Although this vacation spot does not offer food, it does have an indoor gym and offers morning coffee there as well.  But, across the street is a deli that has an array of items on their breakfast menu and is very affordable.  In addition, there is a Chinese restaurant across the street as well as a take-out barbecue, and deli.

The grounds are impeccable and there is a very large pool (one for the kiddies, too) where you can lounge in the sun.  A tennis court is also on the premises.  Every room has its own balcony with lounge chairs and a table.

If you live in the New York area, it is a 90-minute trip by car.  The East Hampton Inn is centrally located – five minutes from town, restaurants, shopping, and a movie house.  You can even take a short trip to Montauk and visit the historic lighthouse or spend time at the beach there.



Hawaii.  Of course, nothing can compare to the beaches that are in Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.  No matter what island you choose, Hawaii has the most pristine beaches anywhere in the U.S.  Moreover, there are black-sand beaches on the island of Maui as well as a myriad of activities for the entire family.



San Diego.  Shifting to the west Coast, your family might enjoy a stay at the Beach Cottages.  This site offers many amenities such as water sports, biking, as well as an amusement park.  For the kids, San Diego Zoo and Sea World are not far from the Beach Cottages.

Centrally located to restaurants and shopping, Beach Cottages is an affordable vacation spot where the family can enjoy the sun, the surf, and other amenities available.  In fact, you can book a studio that offers a fully equipped kitchen.



Redondo Beach.  Located on Santa Monica Bay, this report haven is perfect for family beach vacations.  Here you can enjoy water sports, fishing bicycling, kayaking, as well as fine restaurants shops located not far from the Santa Monica Pier.  There are many hotels across the street from the beach or within walking distance.  Each has its own set of amenities geared towards families.




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My Big Fat Caribbean Vacation Part II

My Big Fat Caribbean Vacation Part II

New Year's Eve party supplies

Hat, crown, beads and noise makers for New year’s Eve celebration


It’s the last day of 2012 and we’re spending it on the Mariner of the Seas sailing the Western Caribbean. Early in the morning, it feels like any other day on board a cruise ship.

We ate breakfast at the Windjammer and sat by the big picture window watching the sea go by. All we could see was waves of blue sea for miles and miles (and I mean blue).

We couldn’t stay away from the shops before going to the pool. I bought a party dress because tonight is formal night. I promised myself that I wouldn’t but anything for my self but it was a promise I didn’t have to keep. The dress is short, sleeveless, and black with silver sequins at the neck and hem.

The pool was very busy this morning. The upper level has a track for walking and jogging. It was a little cool but it didn’t stop anyone from trying to get a tan, jump in the hot tubs, eat frozen yogurt, swim, drink, and watch the Fab Abs (Females Only) Contest.

About eight women of all ages, sizes and shapes strutted – or tried to strut – their stuff. The one thing they all had in common was guts and in the end, the oldest woman in the group won the cup: a RC mug.

Andrea had never seen an ice show before (hockey games excluded) and so we went to see the4:30show at the Savoy Theatre at one of two theatres on the ship. I wasn’t expecting it but it was a good entertaining show.

The costumes were very colorful. Each skit or set had its own theme and color scheme: black, sliver and white for the Russia Cossack routine and rainbow colors for the Clowin’ Around skit, etc.

Waiters and waitresses took your order for drinks and bring them to your seat. (Please don’t forget to add a tip.) Andrea had to order a CokeJ

Pretty soon, though, she can order something else.

It’s just unofficial observation on my part but there are a lot of families on this cruise as well as the requisite senior adults and/or couples. I don’t know what I expected.

 We were riding the elevator after the show when I heard Andrea say, “Aww…”

I looked down and saw a small pink baby carriage. I peered under the hood and saw a long-haired puppy. I’m not sure about its breed but she wore a pink ribbon in her hair.

“How does she like the cruise?” I tried to hide my surprise at the dog’s mode of transportation.

“The first day was an adjustment but she’s getting used to it now,” her owner responded.

Later, I asked Andrea,

“Who would want to bring her dog on a cruise?”

“She just loves her dog,” Andrea said.

Another woman carried a fake dog with her wherever she went.  Sometimes her husband/companion held it for her. I assume the dog was battery-operated because it would move its long-haired head slowly. The dog looked like a sheep dog only smaller.

I wondered if this was some kind of therapy for the owner.  She was too old to play with toys.

Our attendant dropped off an itinerary of events and other information for us. There were many parties/event scheduled for the evening and of course, a balloon-drop on the Promenade.

 At 6:30 we went to dinner at the Sound of Music, true to schedule. My dinner choices included a light mushroom and cheese crepe; a salad of winter greens with walnuts and light vinaigrette; baby rack of lamb with string beans and root vegetables and a hazelnut coffee mousse for dessert with a cup of coffee. I had a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Everything was excellent in taste and presentation and not only on this night but every night. I never had a bad meal there.

Andrea loved her choices, too: beef consommé; herb-encrusted Alaska halibut with side veggies that I can’t remember and a light strawberry banana torte for dessert and a Coke. (The day after tomorrow, she gets to really drink.)

 She ate everything so it must have been good.

While we were eating there was a parade in the lower level of the restaurant.  I didn’t see it (and Andrea had gone to the restroom) because we were on the upper level and I didn’t feel like running to the railing. It didn’t last long.

A live band played every night in the lower level.

We started talking to a couple from California sitting at the table next to ours. There names were Kristin and Paul. They were surprised that we had come all the way from Pittsburgh. They were from San Diego. They were curious about Pittsburgh.

I told them I loved the city because it has a community-oriented feel to it but I didn’t love the winters. They wanted to know why and I cited the difficulty navigating the hills when the municipal authorities can’t get it together to plow.

Kristin told me a little about the history of California which has a different history from the eastern US, California had originally been founded by Europeans who established missions to help the Native Americans.

They also mentioned how warm the weather was in San Diego. That city doesn’t really experience weather changes.

I have a photo of Mike who grew up inCalifornia and Hawaii until the age of 7 or 8, wearing shorts and a T-shirt on Christmas Day. This was when my father-in-law was in the Navy and stationed in California.)

Of course, we also talked about the Steelers, Chargers and Penguins.

There was down time until the festivities began so we went back to our room. Andrea took the opportunity to re-do her hair for the zillionth time.

There are several bars on some of the decks. We stopped in and listened to the music and moved on to the next one (except Ellington’s because Andrea isn’t into jazz).  Some of them allowed smoking so we didn’t linger too long in those. Smoking makes me sick.

We passed the Champagne Bar on the Promenade deck.

 “On January 2, we’ll go in there first,” I said to Andrea.

After that we dropped in the Dragon’s Lair (Michael Jackson Tribute); Latin American dance music; Country and Western Music at Studio B and the party on the Promenade deck where the balloons will drop. Fittingly for us, the balloons are in black and gold.

The Promenade consisted of wall-to-wall people – young, old and in-between. 

Waiters and waitresses were giving out free glasses of champagne. One underage kid picked one up and the waiter took it right off of him. A jazz band played and they were very good.

The crowd was proportionately as large as aTimes Square crowd although the Promenade is a bit smaller. Now I know how it feels to be sardines or anchovies stuffed in a can. At the count down to midnight the balloons dropped one or two at a time – a malfunction of something or other, I guess.

Clink! Clink! of the champagne glasses. All of a sudden, the remaining balloons dropped all at once. Auld lang syne was over by then. Balloons were batted back and forth or the kids stepped on them.  Pop! Pop!

We revisited our previous stops but most of the crowd on the Promenade deck didn’t die out until much later.

A note on the fashions of the evening: there was mostly short evening gowns were prominent although there were long gowns, too, on women of all ages. The color black dominated as did silver and gold sequined attire; white and neutrals like champagne were and beige were favored, too. I didn’t see too many bright colors although I remember a long, yellow gown floating by. I think I saw red, too. I saw some lace and dotted Swiss material, sheer tops, sleeveless gowns, and skinny straps but not too many strapless numbers. Women were wearing platforms, high heels and flats.

I wondered how the puppy in the buggy celebrated New Year’s Eve. Finely ground filet mignon with a magnum of Perrier water? Just wondering.


Tomorrow: New Year’s Day


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