PHOENIX, Dec. 20, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Once the holidays end and the New Year arrives, it's the ideal time to sit down as a family and make vacation travel plans for 2011, according to Amy Graff, Travel and Kids expert for Best Western International and the senior editor for the award-winning blog, On the Go With Amy.
To arm families with fresh ideas for budget- and family-friendly activities, Amy today released her Top 11 Destinations for Family Travel for 2011, which includes "must do" and "must see" ideas ranging from touring a newly built aquarium to discovering U.S. history.
Many of the vacation spots feature new attractions for 2011 as well as some of Best Western's highest rated properties. The Top 11 Destinations for Family Travel include (listed in alphabetical order):
- Brooklyn, N.Y. – Escape the Manhattan bustle and explore this quieter New York borough. In the Park Slope area, you'll find kid-friendly restaurants such as Flipsters burger joint, while Prospect Park is home to the Prospect Park Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where children under 12 get in free. Located within minutes of these attractions, BEST WESTERN PLUS Prospect Park Hotel recently opened in November 2010 and offers comfortable luxury the whole family will enjoy.
- Charleston, S.C. – With new service from Southwest Airlines, this historic Southern town's cobblestone streets and antebellum architecture are more accessible than ever. Kids will enjoy learning history when touring the spooky Provost Dungeon at the Old Exchange or climbing on Civil War-era cannons at White Point Gardens. Also, don't miss Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The BEST WESTERN King Charles Inn sits in the heart of the city.
- Dallas, Texas – Traveling to the Lone Star State just got more fun, with the opening of Legoland Discovery Centre in spring 2011 and Sealife Aquarium in summer 2011. If the lure of theme-parks isn't enough, kids with a need for speed can check out the Texas Motor Speedway Official NASCAR track. The contemporary BEST WESTERN PREMIER Crown Chase Inn & Suites offers a convenient centralized location nearby numerous attractions in the area.
- Durango, Colo. – Families seeking an outdoor adventure can climb onboard the famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The coal- and steam-powered locomotive chugs along though the wilderness of San Juan National Forest, where you'll also find countless hiking and mountain biking trails. After taking in the natural beauty of the surrounding area, relax at the BEST WESTERN Durango Inn & Suites situated on a hillside.
- Fort Myers, Fla. – From visiting The Shell Factory, which boasts the world's largest collection of rare seashells and sea life specimens, to exploring the Everglades by airboat on an EcoSafari, families can have fun beyond soaking up the sun. Located on the secluded beaches of Estero Island, BEST WESTERN PLUS Beach Resort is within walking distance of activities for the young and the young at heart.
- Hannibal, Mo. – Great American author Mark Twain was born in this small port town 120 miles north of St. Louis. Browse the exhibits at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, taste the homemade root beer and onion rings at the Mark Twain Dinette, and take in beautiful views of the Mississippi River from your room at the BEST WESTERN On the River.
- Lancaster, Pa. – You'll find a dizzying array of attractions in this town 50 miles west of Philadelphia. Kids can create their own candy bar at Hersheypark Chocolate World, go wild at ZOOAmerica, and be thrilled by shows and rides at Dutch Wonderland. BEST WESTERN PREMIER Eden Resort & Suites will pamper parents and please children with its plush accommodations and amenities including shuffleboard, a playground, and a children's pool.
- Miami, Fla. – Kids will love the new Adventures of Mr. Potato Head Exhibit at the Miami Children's Museum. Opening January 2011, the exciting hands-on traveling exhibit allows kids to interact with the classic Mr. Potato Head character. The BEST WESTERN PREMIER Miami International Airport Hotel & Suites will offer families the chance to reconnect in the deluxe new accommodations.
- Scottsdale, Ariz. – For a homerun getaway, visit the Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies at the brand new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, opening on February 26. Families can check out a game before the official baseball season starts. BEST WESTERN Sundial, a brand new contemporary boutique style hotel located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, allows children 16 and under to stay free with an adult.
- Sonoma, Calif. – While wine tasting isn't typically a family-friendly activity, Francis Ford Coppola Winery offers wine tasting for adults and a pool, games, and activities for children such as smoothie tastings and special holiday events. Family-owned and operated, BEST WESTERN Sonoma Valley Inn provides services and amenities aimed to please all visitors as they experience the wonders of wine country and Northern California.
- Waikiki, Hawaii – Opening in late spring of 2011, Waikiki Aquarium's Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Display will feature a living reef ecosystem representative of those found in the world's most isolated islands. BEST WESTERN Coconut Waikiki Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel located along the Ala Wai Canal, just three blocks from the world-famous Waikiki Beach, another popular family attraction.
"The best family vacations are most often those that blend time together with a sense of adventure and discovery," said Graff. "With ample research and planning, families can spend time together to create long-lasting memories without breaking the bank. There are attractive free or discounted activities, if you know where to look, and hotels like Best Western offer freebies, like breakfast, wireless internet to share pictures with family back home and a pool to help stretch the budget."
OnTheGoWithAmy.com was created to celebrate the joys of travel and everything that goes with it – from flat tires and screaming children in the backseat to an amazing view of the New York skyline at the top the Empire State Building. Seasoned travel expert and journalist Amy Graff takes readers on the road with her husband and two children, her girlfriends and sometimes alone. Amy posts stories, pictures and videos from her family adventures, as well as helpful and unique tips she's picked up after traveling the world with her family.
ABOUT AMY GRAFF
With more than a dozen years of experience as a travel editor and writer, Amy most recently served as a senior editor at VIA, a travel magazine that reaches more than three million members of the American Automobile Association. Prior, she was a contributor to Bay Area regional lifestyle magazines including Diablo and San Francisco. In addition to serving as a contributing columnist for Best Western, Amy writes for Sunset Custom Publishing and serves as the community manager for the San Francisco Chronicle's new parenting site, Bay Area Moms, for which she writes The Mommy Files blog.
ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Best Western International, Inc. is THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN®, providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,000* BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER® hotels in 80* countries and territories worldwide. Each Best Western-branded hotel is independently owned and operated. An industry pioneer since 1946, Best Western has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000* worldwide guests each night. Equally committed to the business and leisure traveler, Best Western recently embarked on a mission to lead the hotel industry in customer care. World Vision is the charity of choice for Best Western in building the world's largest family, with our hotels and staff sponsoring children in need around the globe. Our partnerships with AAA/CAA, Michael Waltrip Racing™ and Harley-Davidson® help guests make the most of every trip. For the fastest way to a free night globally, join Best Western Rewards®. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com.
*Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate.
SOURCE Best Western International, Inc.