Mount Snow Vermont Resort: A Family Review

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The family and I headed down to Vermont’s Mount Snow on a Thursday, for a long weekend of skiing, first-time snowboarding and checking out all that the ski resort has to offer. We had an incredible adventure – as part of a media trip with Momtrends. Just four hours from NYC, Mount Snow is Vermont’s closest big mountain resort; check out why it’s such a great place for families:Mount-Snow-Ski-Resort-Family-travel

Mount Snow’s Ski & Snowboarding School Knows How To Get The Kids Dialed In:
My kids, ages 8 and 11 approached snowboarding for the very first time with confidence. I listened to comparisons of their skateboarding and surfing experiences – and honestly thought that snowboarding would be humbling. With solid expert instruction, the kiddos proved me wrong. Mount Snow’s Ski & Snowboarding school offers a variety of lesson options beginning at just three-years-old. We opted for the Mountain Riders full-day (snowboarding) camp for kids ages seven through fourteen, placed in small groups by age and level. I couldn’t believe that my children were up and going, and riding the chairlift at the end of their very first day. Rick, their instructor, knew just how to work with my daughter and son – and even pointed out to me how skateboarding helped them naturally nail their turns. After a full day of Mountain Riders camp, I rode the chairlift with the kiddos until closing, absorbing their excitement and cherishing the moment (and awesomeness!) of being together on the mountain. We arrived at the Discovery Center, early the next morning to enroll in another full day of camp – and stayed again until we found ourselves on Sunday’s last chairlift of the day. I think it’s so important for these sort of challenging “firsts” to be positive experiences – and our pro instructor dialed my kiddos right in. The kids progressed a “color” level each day of camp, while I was free to enjoy the slopes on my own before regrouping for many runs together in the late afternoon. The rental process was also a well-organized breeze. Fully immersing my beginners in Mount Snow’s snowboarding camp was hands-down the best decision – and a win-win for the whole family.

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Mount Snow Is the Place to Experience All-Day-Après:
I had high hopes of my husband catching the ski bug – and I certainly give him an “A” for effort. Let’s say that there were a lot of laughs the moment his boots clicked into bindings – but all worked out because Mount Snow manages to make those who prefer all-day-après still feel connected. Work-out at the Grand Summit Resort Hotel’s fitness club, and unwind in the sauna and steam room. Then grab a beer at The Bullwheel (or really good coffee in the Deli if you need it!) before meeting the kids for a coveted waffle after their lessons.

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Mount Snow’s Tubing Experience is Off-The-Hook:
Gone are the days of having to haul it back up the hill after the thrill of tubing down the mountain. Mount Snow’s “magic carpet” makes the way back-up super fun. With eight tubing lanes, the whole family will want in on the action – and the best part is that you don’t need any special skills to be the queen and king of the tubing hill.

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Mount Snow’s Grand Summit Resort Hotel Is The Place to Stay:
A family ski trip undeniably involves a lot of gear and the good-sort of exertion. Mount Snow’s Grand Summit Resort Hotel located at the base of the hill handles the transition from slopes to chill-mode as a family seamlessly. The hotel offers several room size options, dining options and an efficient system of checking your skis and snowboards at the hotel entrance – all within a short walking distance to the slopes. On my solo morning, I was able to click my skis on – and take off directly from the back entrance. We didn’t have to move our car the entire four days of our trip – and staying on site made family travel with kids a breeze. The indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub invoked a lot of “oohs and ahhs” while night-swimming (outside!) during a serious snowfall. Seafood all-around at Harriman’s Farm to Table was our most memorable meal – and the kids were thrilled to get in a bit of post-dinner arcade action. And although I intended to have time to indulge in the full-service Nature Spa, or take a yoga class – the mountains were calling!

Mount_Snow_Vermont_Ski_Resort-Family-ReviewMount Snow is the Perfect Ski Resort to Get Back Into Skiing:
I don’t know why I assumed I’d be back to beginner-status after a nearly 20-year break – but it’s thrilling to come to realize that skiing isn’t something you just forget. After overcoming a bit of fear, I enjoyed run after run without wanting to stop and take a break. My re-entry experience was nothing but positive because Mount Snow’s trails are so well maintained – boasting the most powerful snowmaking system in the Northeast. I didn’t come into contact with the sort of icy trails that scared the living daylights out of me in the past – thanks to the snow guns blasting. I spent most of my time catching the Bluebird Express (inside a super cool blue plexiglass bubble shield ) up to the top of the mountain while adventuring through fun green and blue trails on the way down. Every run felt like a different thrill, with new turns to discover on the way down. The stunning views (sometimes amidst a total whiteout) absolutely took my breath away.

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We drove away from the beautiful green mountains feeling exhilarated, excited and reconnected as a family. My kids are so pumped about snowboarding, and I’m thinking about all of the other metaphorical mountains in my life that I hope to revisit and conquer.

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Beginners – take advantage of the Peak Discovery ProgramFor just $139 you’ll get three days of lessons, rentals and lift tickets for seven mountains across the Northeast, including Mount Snow, Hunter Mountain, Attitash, Wildcat and more. Also, check out the Momtrends Ski Guide for the full scoop on hitting the slopes with your family.

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Many thanks to Mount Snow for hosting us and to momtrends for media trip inclusion. 

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Water Country USA: The Ultimate Summer Family Vacation

Underwater-photography-kids-GoPro-Hero5We hope you’ll find some helpful tips to plan the ultimate summer family vacation at Busch Gardens VA and Water Country USA.

A trip to Busch Gardens VA was already on our family bucket list.  It’s a popular family destination for New Yorkers, whether traveling by car or by plane.  So when we had the chance to experience Water Country USA (just down the road from Busch Gardens), we knew it would be a memorable way to mark the official kick-off to summer!

After a fun vacation, full of whipping down water slides like an exploding-mom-cannon, hearing chants of “ONE MORE TIME!” on repeat, and waiting at the bottom of rides for my super-enthusiastic kiddos, we have a few helpful tips to share.

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UNLEASH YOUR INNER CHILD: When my kids immediately expressed their love for the Nitro Racer freeway, I’ll never forget the looks on their faces as I hightailed it up the line and then came sliding down like an out-of-control belly-down-mom-torpedo.  And the kids continue to talk about the funny expressions and noises that their dad made while rafting together down the adrenaline-packed rides (“He was more scared than we were!!!”).  In our experience, the kiddos love to see their parents let loose and dive head first into fun.  While many of the rides can accommodate for all four of us, there were plenty of times when my husband and I playfully argued about who could go first.  Bring your inner child; the rides are that much fun!

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Map Out a Plan: With a ton of thrilling rides and attractions, it’s great to have a plan. Our do-not-miss favorites include Big Daddy Falls, Aquazoid, Hubba Hubba Highway, Colossal Curl, Nitro Racer and more.

Our kids are on the cusp of being tall enough for many of the thrilling rides while still appreciating the kid-friendly attractions for ages nine and younger.  If you have little ones, there’s plenty of areas designed for their fun at Kritter Korral, H20 UFO, Cow-A-Bunga, and many others.

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GO FOR THE QUICK QUEUE: The option of purchasing Quick Queue will grant you access to short lines and even shorter walks to the top of a few rides. Although your day will certainly still be a blast sans Quick Queue, the passes spit our kids out of the bottom of their favorite rides faster than we could have imagined.

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DINE IT:  With a bunch of delicious dining options, our group consensus led us to Tex-Mex at Hot Spots Cafe.  The kiddos went for chicken tacos, while my husband and I filled up on salads.  The kids will never let a promised vacation-treat be missed, and there are so many fun options for dessert, other than what I assumed they’d go for (ice cream!). Also, don’t forget to purchase a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated.

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RENT A CABANA:  Elevate your park experience with your own private shaded area to settle in, store your belongings, hydrate and relax.  A cabana rental comes with a private attendant, locker rental, two drinks per person and even towels to take home as souvenirs.   Even though the park is packed with ample loungers and locker rentals, there’s nothing like having a central (and private!) VIP spot to rest sun-tired bodies after the important work of splish-splashing down water slides.

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GRAB A SOUVENIR: While we’re big on choosing experiences over things, allowing the kids to select a small souvenir is a fun way to add to the vacation memories. In addition to every possible water park necessity, all of the shops are filled with fun trinkets galore.  The kids each chose a goodie from Wipeout Gifts and Apparel.  This is also the spot to grab a new suit and cover-up if you need one! They’ve got you styled with options from Roxy, Quicksilver, Salt Life, and more.

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Get in the Picture:  Special vacation memories quickly become an important part of our collective family story.  And while I’m often on the other side of the lens (like a lot of parents), family photos are important! Our trip to Williamsburg VA is certainly one for the memory books. We can’t wait to return!

Win It! The generous team at Busch Gardens VA wants to set your summer off to a fantastic start with a $100 VISA Gift Card Giveaway for one lucky winner.  Entry is simply: Just leave a comment on this post telling us what you’re looking forward to this summer and follow the official rules below.

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post (let us know what you’re looking forward to this summer!).

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#Sweeps” and “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post. Example tweetEnter to win a $100 VISA GC #sweeps via @MarinoBambinos & check out Water Country USA travel tips #SweepstakesEntry http://www.marinobambinos.com/2017/07/water-country-usa-the-ultimate-summer-family-vacation/

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from SheKnows via the sweeps@sheknows email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 7/13-9/30/2017

Be sure to visit the brand page on SheKnows.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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Family Travel Tips for Parents on the Go

We just returned from an exciting trip with Disney World and Disney Cruise Line, and can’t wait to share the incredible things that will soon come to Disney parks! Since this was a work and play trip combined, I remembered a few helpful family travel tips for parents on the go, to help streamline the process of traveling with kids.

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  • If Capable, Have Kids Carry Their Gear

I can’t stress enough how important it is to begin this step early!  Whether you’re heading to the beach or getting on a plane, help teach kids accountability by having them carry their backpacks or push a small carry on suitcase through the airport.  Keep the size and weight manageable and stick to this expectation on every excursion.

  • Pick your Mom (or Dad) Bag Wisely

During my hunt for a reliable bag, I couldn’t believe how many brands decided to omit external pockets designed to hold water bottles. I’ve learned to keep my electronics and expensive camera lenses far away from liquids, and have found a solution in sticking with diaper bags.  All of our favorite bags (find great tips on finding the perfect diaper bag here!) are super stylish and modern and in no way scream baby bag! And best of all, they offer, secure places to store large water bottles, stash away valuables, and even tuck in camera lenses.  We need solid compartments galore with comfort and functionality.  I’ve also often gone for neutral colors so my husband can carry the bag when needed.

  • Print and Color Code Calendars

As much as we try to rely on digital calendars, there is nothing like having a clear and concise calendar in a visible spot to keep the entire family informed. On our recent trip, I was required to be in different places than my husband and kids on most days.  A color-coded calendar allowed the kids and my husband to see exactly what was expected of me, and where they’d find pockets of free time along with scheduled family events.

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  • Clear Compartments are your Friend

When a nine-day trip required two hotel changes and a switch to a cruise line, our packing game left something to be desired.  I did, however, pick up an assortment of clear travel pouches from a local discount store.  Having things visibly organized helped a ton! From medications, make-up, electronic chargers, my daughter’s hair accessories, to sunblock and more – not having to search for things saved time while on vacation.

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  • Plan For the Last Day

The final day of vacation is always a drag as it’s time to pack up, head to the airport and face reality! My husband and I gave each other a look when we passed the exact spot in the Orlando airport where we experienced total family chaos just nine months prior, as we tried to rearrange suitcase weights and find warm clothes for the kids. We learned from our mistakes and laid out the kids’ travel clothes the night prior, also packing everything away as concisely as possible. TIP! If you’re leaving a cruise ship, skip the breakfast and order room service the NIGHT BEFORE. As long as the Thermos top is tightly secured, your coffee will be piping hot in the morning, AND you’ll save precious time getting your family off the ship.

Hope these tips are helpful and have fun on your next adventure!

This post is sponsored by Quidsi.  However, all opinions and travel tips are my own.

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A Weekend in Connecticut

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Midsummer feels like a whirlwind of activity, and we’re choosing to see that seasonal glass as half-full. There’s still a ton of gloriously spontaneous weeks to enjoy – and like previous summers – we like to take off on micro-adventures with minimal planning.

Connecticut is truly a gem for family travel, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my home state. Whenever we head back to visit my mama, I think about how it’s such a lovely spot to explore.  And so we decided to make a mini-vacation out of a weekend (on a whim), complete with a hotel pool – which equals guaranteed happiness for a six and eight-year-old.

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Our days were filled with letting the kids loose in my childhood backyard, visiting a local park, enjoying home cooked meals (and tasty restaurants in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square), checking out the historic Bushnell Carousel – and people watching droves of Pokémon Go players on the lawn of the capitol building. That said, thunder and lightening challenged all we sent out to do, but the messy weather was definitely combated by our comfy stay at Homewood Suites by Hilton in Farmington CT. Unlike the hotel hub of Hartford, we appreciate the ease of being able to park our car in the enclosed lot, and adore the comfortable room layouts while traveling with our children.  Naturally, the kids went bananas over the pool  – and all of the yummy options at the complimentary morning breakfast – while the adults praised the separate living room area for the early morning risers to indulge in coveted cartoons!

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My husband was the one who suggested this trip  – and Hilton’s TravelMANager makes the vacation planning straightforward and simple when staying with Homewood Suites or Home2 Suites by Hilton.  He’s even planning our next getaway and taking advantage of their 25% savings on weekends!

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We may have had to alter our plans but the comfort of our weekend digs allowed us to embrace the unexpected summer storms and enjoy the pleasures of cozying up indoors as a family.

Thank you to Homewood Suites by Hilton for hosting us.  Opinions, as always, are my own.

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Kalahari Resorts Trip Giveaway!

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Did you all catch our story a few months ago about our family trip to Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in the Pocono Mountains? The entire family is obsessed (adults included!).  So much so that the kids continue to talk about our time at Kalahari.  As Pennsylvania’s largest indoor waterpark, Kalahari is seriously a blast for all ages and the sort of memorable fun for the entire family. We’re so excited to partner with this incredible family vacation destination to giveaway a trip to one lucky family!

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With impeccably clean African themed grounds, lazy rivers, fun waterslides, a designated kiddie area, spa, Flow Rider, adults-only swim-up bar, mind-blowing entertainment center, incredible dining options and so much more – Kalahari is truly a blast for all ages. And the comfortable, spacious room accommodations provide great respite for passing out after a solid day at the waterpark. Which you absolutely will do!  Check out all the details of our family travel story – where we tested out all that Kalahari has to offer.  We can’t think of a better place to beat the heat this summer!

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Win it! Enter to win a one night stay (which includes two full days at the waterpark!) for a family of four to Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in the Ponocons.  Enter via the rafflecoter below. Best of luck and thanks for visiting.

Update: Giveaway closed.

This is a sponsored post.

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Where Dreams Come True: A Walt Disney World Vacation with Disney SMMC

If there was ever a time that I was desperate for uplifting news, it was the day that the invitation to the 2016 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration came in.  In-route to face the hardest days of my life, I had happy news to carry with me.

We had happy news to carry with us.

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Kids are natural joy-spreaders. This superpower is hardwired into the very core of their beings.  Heading with my husband and super-excited children to the most magical place on earth, while clinging to their joy, was indeed enchantment personified.

“The greatest natural resource is in the minds of our children.” ~ Walt Disney

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We visited Disney as a family once prior, two and half years ago.  And this recent trip was certainly elevated by staying on Disney Resorts property for the first time.  As guests at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, we experienced the ways in which everything fits together so seamlessly while vacationing on Disney property.  From our Magical Express pickup to utilizing the intuitive MagicBand system, all while being in a short walking distance to Epcot, the magic carried through our charming stay at the resort.

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While I attended the #DisneySMMC conference, my husband had a day alone with the children at the Magic Kingdom.  Nearly every text that he sent me was wrapped in glowing superlatives and exclamation marks, which is definitely not his usual tone in communication!  He was thrilled to be off creating a cherished day with our littles – while I had an inside view of what’s to come to Disney.  From inspirational speakers, sensational performances and early looks into movies including “Finding Dory” and “Alice Through The Looking Glass” – my family was completely blown away by the #DisneySMMC experience and the intricate attention to detail that is synonymous with the Disney brand.  We’re excited to continue to share more stories with info gleaned from the conference, including the introduction of a new, resilient, and strong female character- Princess Elena of Avalor – Disney’s first Latina Princess.

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Image via Disney’s Memory Maker gifted to conference attendees. 

During our stay, we hit up every park from morning till closing, and once again, Walt Disney World treated us in ways that we want to emulate. In a place of long lines and children pining for their turns on rides – every cast member we encountered was patient, kind and helpful; while making each child feel incredibly special.

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In just one week, we collected what felt like a lifetime of memories. I imagine that I’ll always remember the children’s wide-eyed wonderment as we stepped onto Main Street USA, where music plays, parades float by, and the scent of fresh cookies streams throughout the warm Florida sky.  Our long list of treasured moments is filled with riding my favorite whimsical ride (it’s a small world) as a family, holding hands through elaborate parades, thrilling rides, and spectacular fireworks. In a place where childhood dreams are built upon seeing Cinderella’s illuminated castle, meeting beloved characters and watching Tinkerbell fly through the night sky – we now understand why some families make Disney a repeat pilgrimage.

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The timing and circumstances surrounding our Disney vacation will forever carry tremendous meaning.  According to our five-year-old, this particular trip came to fruition because “Disney and heaven talk to each other.”

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Perhaps, he’s right.

 

A photo posted by Monica (@marinobambinos) on

Thank you to the Disney Social Media Moms team and Walt Disney world for having us at the year’s DisneySMMC. We are grateful to have been included.  As always, all opinions are my own.

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