Travel and Religion clips

SPECIAL SECTION: U.S. CITIES — HOT PICKS
TOURING OUR NATION’S CAPITAL with kids!
Young people will have enough fun in D.C. for a lot of visits

DATE: June 1, 2008
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Main; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Travel
PAGE: L1

Washington — Families love D.C., and it’s a city to visit with kids over and over again.

Almost every school-age child is studying some aspect of American history — whether it’s the founding fathers in the first grade or World War II in the fifth — and visiting the nation’s capital brings that history alive. They are thrilled when they connect a real person, place or artifact with something they’ve learned in class.

Most museums and tourist sites are free. So even if your kids have short attention spans, you’re not wasting money.

Plus, many of the Smithsonian exhibits are made just for kids — where else can they meet R2-D2 up close or touch a moon rock?

We took our three kids, ages 7, 5 and 1, to visit Washington during spring break. We ran into two other families from metro Atlanta while we were there: The Neenan family of Forsyth County, Kevin and Sue Ann and their three boys, 11-year-old twins and a 9-year-old, and the Heiser family of Gwinnett County, James and Heather and their two sons, 7 and 5.

Here is a compilation of all of the families’ favorite sites and the best tips we all learned along the way:

Mount Vernon

Our kids loved George Washington’s estate but not so much his house. If you have impatient kids, forgo the long line to enter the main house and head out back around the right side to view the Potomac. You also can check out the detached kitchen, laundry and a multitude of other buildings without waiting in that line.

The kids loved running the path that takes you through the farm down to the river’s edge. Bulls laze at the top of the hill and sheep graze in paddocks by the river. Docents can tell you how the farm operated.

The visitor’s center at the front of the estate is the only place with food and a restroom. Admission is $13 for adults, $6 for kids 6-11 and free for kids 5 and under.

Arlington National Cemetery

The cemetery is not within walking distance of the Mall, so you’ll need to take the Metro, a tour or drive. There is a parking deck for the cemetery.

Once inside the cemetery, use the trolley service to take you to the main sites, President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite, Robert F. Kennedy’s gravesite, the Tomb of the Unknowns and many others. It’s $7.50 for adults and $3.25 per child and well worth it.

The cemetery is spread out and very hilly. The trolley drops you off at each stop, and you can reboard another when you’re ready. Strollers are OK to take aboard, as long as you fold them.

Smithsonian museums

Most often you enter the Smithsonian museums from the Mall side. However, sometimes families with strollers get sent to side or back entrances. Those security lines are often shorter. Your bags will be searched going into the museums.

Eating or drinking is not allowed in the museums, but they don’t confiscate your sippy cups or snacks.

Do pick up the goSmithsonian magazine when you enter your first museum — it has helpful tips and maps. Also look for the “stuff especially for kids” brochures.

Many of the museums have food courts, but they are often packed. We did learn about two sneaky places to eat on the Mall. The Sculpture Garden has a lovely cafe that was not crowded, and it offers kid meals. The Heiser family reports the National Gallery of Art (West Building) also has a less crowded cafeteria.

National Air and Space Museum

Visiting this museum is a no-brainer for families. Our kids loved the early flight exhibit showing the Wright Brothers’ plane, as well as the exhibit on the expanding universe. We didn’t do the Imax movies, but I think the kids would have liked them. ($8.50 for adults, $7 for ages 2-12, but you can get discounts the more you see. You can order online ahead of time.)

All three families tried and recommend the flight simulator rides in the far right corner of the museum. It cost $7-$8 depending on which you chose, and all the kids thought it was well worth it. The restrooms on the second level seemed less crowded.

National Museum of American History

Sadly, this museum is closed, and the reopen date keeps getting moved, currently slated for fall 2008.

National Museum of Natural History

My husband didn’t want to take time to visit the Natural History museum because “We have dinosaurs at Fernbank,” but I am so glad we did. The kids had never seen anything like the gigantic sea life fossils, and they were fascinated with how sea creatures crawled onto land.

Our kids and the Heiser kids loved the gem and mineral exhibits. Signs invited kids to “please touch.” It also had large displays on volcanoes and earthquakes.

The Heiser family loved the Butterfly exhibit ($6 per person, Tuesdays free, but always timed tickets needed). The Heiser family advises going to the museum first thing in the morning, because the afternoons were more crowded.

The Sculpture Gardens

I saw this on the map and thought, “We won’t be going there,” but then we used it as a shortcut and the kids loved it. Giant, colorful sculptures towering over them. The hardest part was keeping my kids from touching. We actually visited twice.

The National Archives

As you may know from the “National Treasure” movie, the National Archives houses the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

It is a surprisingly hot ticket to see some old papers. We waited almost two hours outside just to get into the inside line. The guard said in the summer it’s well over three hours.

School-age kids have heard of these documents and can appreciate their historical significance. My first-grader thought it was awesome. My preschooler didn’t even look.

The Capitol Tour

Though our kids are young, I’m so glad we took them to the Capitol. Even our preschooler was impressed with its grandeur, and the underground tram that transports the senators.

You book the tour through your congressional representatives. Kathie Miller, director of constituent services for Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), booked our Capitol and White House tours and gave us lots of advice for our trip.

Our kids loved getting mail from the senator’s office before our trip and felt very important visiting his office. Isakson’s intern, Daniel Halper, guided our tour and pointed out specific contributions Georgians made to the Capitol.

A new Capitol visitors’ center is under construction and is expected to be finished this fall. Miller says tour procedures may change when it opens, but visitors can call her office to find out what they need to do (202-224-3643).

White House Tour

Two important things to know about visiting the White House:

  1. Very few people actually get in (less than 1 percent of those who apply for a tour actually get to take one, according to Isakson’s office). Many people don’t apply in time, and some fail the required background check.
  2. You need to apply at least six months in advance with one of your state’s congressional representatives.

With that said, Miller is a miracle worker and got our family and the Neenan family in with about two months’ notice. (So it is worth asking, even if you think you’re too late.)

It is a self-guided tour, but you can ask questions of the guards in the rooms. The most impressive part of the tour is that these rooms are actually still being used by the president for official functions. The day we visited, the East Room and the State Dining Room were being set up for a Medal of Honor ceremony later that day.

Parents might have to explain why some of the Secret Service guards are so heavily armed.

Even those who get into the actual White House will enjoy seeing the new White House visitors’ center, which is near the southeast corner of 15th and E streets. It featured examples of presidential china, Easter eggs, photos of the first families and a movie about the house’s history that the kids actually paid attention to.

Monuments, memorials

We had a difficult time getting to some of the monuments because they were such a long walk down the Mall. The Jefferson Memorial has close-by parking, but we found very few spaces by the Lincoln Memorial.

The Heiser family used the Metro to get close and then walked between everything. The Neenan family took a nighttime Old Town Trolley Tour, which mother Sue Ann said was excellent. She said the guides gave them tons of information and waited for them to look around and then they moved on. (Tickets for Trolley Tours can be purchased online. $35 for adults, $18 for 4-12, under 4 free.)

After our trip, I found online that a bus called the Circulator runs the perimeter of the Mall (called Smithsonian National Gallery of Art Loop) on the weekends, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. You can purchase a $3 all-day pass along the route.

If you want to go up inside the Washington Monument, you need to order your timed tickets online well before your trip. (The tickets are free, but it’s $1.50 per online order.) When I checked the availability of tickets in early May, they were sold out through the end of June. You can wait in line at the monument for same-day tickets, but you have to get there by 6:30-7 a.m., and you might not get in.

A few parting tips

Families should plan to return to D.C. many times as their children grow. There’s too much to do and see to accomplish it all in one trip.

As the kids get older and more mature, they will appreciate different attractions. For example, my first-grader really understood the Declaration of Independence but would have been overwhelmed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Families can use the Internet — especially the go-Smithsonian site — to plan exactly what sites will interest their kids.

Also use the Web to book your special exhibit tickets, like the cool Imax films, before you leave town, and you won’t spend your valuable time waiting in line.

Finally, plan but be flexible. The weather, especially in the spring, can change rapidly.

The Neenan family wanted to ride bikes to Mount Vernon, but it rained most of their visit. So they’ll do that the next time they come.

Giarrusso is the parenting columnist and blogger for the Journal-Constitution. You can join the parenting discussions at http://www.ajc.com/momania.

IF YOU GO

Getting there

Driving: Washington is about 640 miles from Atlanta, about a 10-hour drive. Take I-85 north to I-95, and continue into the city.

Flying: Multiple carriers fly to Washington from Atlanta, including Delta, AirTran, Continental. Expect to pay $250 or more, round-trip.

Train: Amtrak travels between Atlanta and Washington. Fare for a family of four (two adults, two children ages 2-15) would be $672, round-trip, for coach seats.

Where to stay

Parents debate whether it’s better to stay in town, closer to the attractions, or out farther, where the rooms cost less but you have to take the subway in. The hotel we stayed at on Capitol Hill changed management the week we arrived; some services available when we booked were discontinued that week, such as free breakfast, and we had no in-room refrigerator or microwave. We were within walking distance to most sites, but there were no restaurants nearby. We wouldn’t recommend it for families.

The Neenans stayed at the Embassy Suites Dupont Circle and had a fantastic experience. They took the Metro for five minutes to the Mall in the morning. Their hotel offered free breakfast, a big-screen TV and indoor pool, plus they were close to restaurants.

The Heisers stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott in Old Town Alexandria. They had a slightly longer, but easy, commute by Metro, about 30 minutes, and had many of the same amenities as the Neenans. Mom Heather said Old Town Alexandria had great restaurants and was fun to explore.

Embassy Suites Dupont Circle, 1250 22nd St. N.W. 202-857-3388; http://www.embassysuites.com.

Residence Inn by Marriott in Old Town Alexandria, 1456 Duke St, Alexandria, Va. 703-548-5474; http://www.marriott.com.

Where to eat

Old Ebbitt Grill, 675 15th St. N.W. 202-347-4801. Sen. Isakson’s staff recommends Washington’s oldest bar (established in 1865); American saloon cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients.

La Tasca, 607 King St., Alexandria, Va. 703-299-9810, http://www.latasca.com. We loved this tapas restaurant. It had a super-friendly staff and a wonderful tapas menu that even our kids tried (they do have kids’ menus).

Chinatown Garden, 618 H. St. N.W. 202-737-8887. Located in Chinatown, the restaurant’s food was fine and the wait staff attentive. They didn’t seem to mind our messy kids. Lots of nearby restaurants to choose from.

More Alexandria restaurants at visitalexandriava.com/dining; more Georgetown restaurants at http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/United_States_of_America/Washington_DC/Georgetown-759644/Restaurants-Georgetown-BR-1.html

More information

Isakson’s staff and Web site are a wealth of information: isakson.senate.gov/visiting.html

Information on White House tours: 24-hour line at 202-456-7041, http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/tours

Information about the Capitol and new visitor’s center: http://www.aoc.gov/cvc

National Park Service: For monuments and memorial information. http://www.nps.gov/state/dc

Smithsonian National Museums: General information about the Smithsonian museums. http://www.si.edu/museums/

To plan your trip to the National Mall: http://www.gosmithsonian.com

Old Town Trolley Tours: http://www.trolleytours.com/Washington-DC

Circulator (buses): http://www.dccirculator.com

Metrorail: http://www.wmata.com

Other resources

“Fodor’s Around Washington, D.C., With Kids” guidebook, 5th Edition, Fodor’s, $8.80

“A Kid’s Guide to Washington, D.C.,” Harcourt Inc., $10.36.

Rent the old “Schoolhouse Rock” DVD. Our kids had fantastic frames of references for the Revolutionary War, inventions, and the Founding Fathers from the “America Rock” DVD.
Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

The Jefferson Memorial (above), framed through the blooming cherry blossoms, just says Washington, D.C. …

Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

… Children (left) like to compare their height with that of an elephant’s leg bone in the National Museum of Natural History.

Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

On George Washington’s back porch at Mount Vernon, children can run around his yard, and parents can sit and enjoy the view.

Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

We had never seen anything like the fossils of gigantic sea life featured at the National Museum of Natural History.

Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

Visitors to Arlington National Cemetery view the graves of President John F. Kennedy; his wife, Jackie; and two of their children.

 

HAWAII: How to take the kids and keep your sanity
DATE: October 29, 2006
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Main; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Travel
PAGE: K1

Honolulu — A 10-hour plane ride, six-hour time difference and exploring a new location can be daunting even for an experienced traveler. Now imagine doing that with small children in tow.

After consulting three different guidebooks, researching for hours online and interviewing multiple Hawaiian experts, we still weren’t prepared for the challenges of taking our 3- and 5-year-olds to Hawaii for almost two weeks.

To help make your Hawaiian family adventure fun, peaceful and easier to manage, here are the most helpful tips we gathered before our trip, as well as what we learned the hard way.

  1. You do need a car in Oahu when traveling with small children.

I kept asking experts before our trip: Can we get around Waikiki and Honolulu without a rental car? Oh, yes, they told me. It’s a walkable city, and there’s a great public bus system. Yes, there is an extensive public bus system, but it was not easy to use with two small children.

We took the bus to go to the Bishop Museum (a 45-minute bus ride one way) and to China Town (a 25-minute bus ride one way). The children were troupers (and because they’re under 6, their tickets were free on the bus), but after walking several blocks to the bus stop, taking the bus ride and walking several blocks to our destination, they were simply exhausted.

Just like in Georgia, you have to have car seats for small children, so we couldn’t take cabs. We were stuck going to restaurants within walking distance of Waikiki, and those were often expensive and repetitive. We rented a car a day earlier than we had planned, and it felt like the whole city opened up to us.

  1. A corollary tip: Compare the price of renting your car at the airport vs. renting in Waikiki.

We rented through Alamo and saved about $200 picking the car up in Waikiki vs. the airport. We paid an extra $30 to return at the airport and paid $30 to take a cab to our hotel when we arrived. Still our net saving was $140. We also avoided the huge pickup lines at the airport rental agencies.

  1. The ubiquitous ABC stores will not meet the needs of a parent trying to buy a few groceries for the hotel room.

The ABC stores often didn’t have bread or large jugs of milk. None of them had (I tried five stores) peanut butter or large boxes of breakfast cereal. Without being able to eat a cheap breakfast and lunch in the room, we were spending more than $100 a day for me and the two kids to eat. About three days into our trip, I finally found a real grocery store several blocks from our hotel and used my empty umbrella stroller to wheel back supplies to the room. The Food Pantry is at 2370 Kuhio Ave.

  1. Skip the expensive luau.

I wanted the children to have a real luau experience, and I took them to the Royal Hawaiian Royal Luau, the only one in Waikiki. It cost $97 for adults, $53.50 for kids 5-12 (some discounts available). About 500 people usually attend, although ours didn’t seem that crowded. The luau lasted about three hours, too long for the kids. Though they liked trying the Hawaiian dishes, they didn’t eat nearly enough to justify the price. They could barely see the entertainment through the throngs of people. Many hotels have live music and hula dancers every night around their pools for free. Ours did, and my kids had a much better time swaying to the music around the pool, feeling free to get up and dance.

  1. You must wear sunscreen all the time.

When families vacation in Hilton Head, S.C., or even Florida, they’re often less vigilant about sunscreen in the early morning and late afternoon. Those rules do not apply in Hawaii. We went for a walk at 7:30 a.m., and I could feel the tops of my feet burning. Many parents try to avoid the hottest part of the day and go to the beach or pool around 4 or 5 p.m. in Florida. Again in Hawaii, this strategy doesn’t work as well. By 5 p.m. in Hawaii, the surface air temperature had cooled, and our kids got chilled in the pool.

  1. Do practice kid-friendly, drive-by tourism, and don’t feel guilty about it.

We knew our kids couldn’t climb to the top of the Diamond Head Crater. So instead of hiking, we just drove into the crater and let them look around. We were satisfied with the experience, and they weren’t miserable. The “Fodor’s Hawai’i 2006” guide editor Mary Beth Bohman and the representative of the Oahu Visitors Bureau did not recommend taking our small children on the boat to see the USS Arizona Memorial (because of the several-hour wait and the boat trip). We just visited the mainland side of the memorial. It had lots of educational displays, required no wait to see, and it was free. (See more on the best tourist sites for kids.)

  1. Get out of Waikiki.

Waikiki Beach is a very small strip of sand brought in from another beach. It’s OK, but it’s awfully touristy and doesn’t reflect the beauty of the island. We drove around the entire island on different days, stopping and swimming at beaches. You don’t have to switch to a different island to get that more natural Hawaiian feeling. You just need to head to the east and north sides of the island. (The leeward side, or west side, seemed to have a lot of homeless tent camps on many of the beaches.)

  1. If you’re only visiting Waikiki, then go to the beach parks near the Diamond Head side.

You can sit under trees, and the beaches are not nearly as crowded as the ones in front of the hotels. Public restrooms are close by, although cleanliness varies and some lack toilet paper (good idea to carry your own).

  1. Stick name tags on your kids in case they get lost.

Fodor’s editor Bohman advised me to put some type of name tag (a business card in their pocket, a sticker on their shirt) with their names, your names, your hotel and your phone number on the island.

  1. Keep it simple.

Because I was writing a travel story, I kept trying to take my kids to cultural places, and all they wanted to do was just explore the beaches, the flowers and the sea life. They were happy climbing coconut trees and hanging from vines. They loved seeing all the Asian tourists and hearing them speak Japanese and Chinese. They loved lying in the shallow water on a Boogie board, feeling the tides pulling them in and out.

IF YOU GO

Getting there

With a minimum of seven airlines flying to Honolulu from Atlanta, you’ll have many flight options, including several nonstops a day. Airfare and lodging tend to be high from mid-December to mid-April. We also found airfares skyrocketed when the kids get out of school for the summer. You can find some travel bargains in May, September and October.

Where to stay

From hotels to condos to houses to rent, there are many lodging options on Oahu. The guidebooks offer names of trusted hotels and rental agencies. We tried these; they were already taken. Since everyone is reading the same books, you need to reserve at least six months in advance, if not more. Here are two places we can vouch for:

  • Sheraton Waikiki. 2255 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu; 1-866-500-8313, http://www.sheraton-waikiki.com. Rates vary depending on the size of the room and view; recent prices ranged from $219 to $575 per night. (We paid $190 a night.) It’s a gigantic hotel on Waikiki Beach with a large but not too deep kiddie pool. Several restaurants and shops are on the property; free music and hula dancers every night by the pool.
  • North Shore Cottage on Mokuleia Beach. We rented this two-bedroom cottage through its owner, Tom Shell, online. It is literally in Shell’s backyard, but it is right on the beach. It has a hammock by the water, a grill, a covered porch and deck. The owner’s little boys came to play with our children some and generously shared their toys. The family was never intrusive, but easy to reach if we needed something. The beach house is an easy drive to all the famous North Shore beaches. We stayed four nights in June and paid $1,200, including the cleaning fee. Rates vary depending on the season. Search for a place at http://www.greatrentals.com/HI/2909.html.

Where to eat

  • Hula Grill Waikiki, at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel, 2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 203, Honolulu, 808-923-4852. For breakfast, try coconut-pineapple pancakes with coconut syrup and fresh juices and fruits. Our breakfast for three was $18. Dinner, a beautifully prepared fish for me and entrees from the kids’ menu, was reasonably priced at $53, including tip.
  • Duke’s Canoe Club Waikiki, at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel, 2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 116, Honolulu, 808-922-2268. Make reservations two to three weeks in advance; we could never get into this restaurant, but everyone raves about it. Named for surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, the restaurant serves steak and seafood. It is a sister restaurant of the Hula Grill. Entrees in the $20s.
  • Beijing Chinese Restaurant, on the third floor of a shopping mall in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, 2301-C Kalakaua Ave., Third Floor, Honolulu, 808-971-8833.

RESOURCES

Books

  • “Frommer’s Hawaii 2007” (Wiley, $19.99): I am usually a Fodor’s user, so I wanted to give Frommer’s a chance. It had so much information it was almost overwhelming. I liked the pullout lists, such as Especially for Kids (editors picked the top activities for kids), and preset walking tours, which we did in China Town.
  • “Fodor’s Hawai’i 2007” (Fodor’s, $19.95): Fodor’s is always reliable and gives good warnings about crime and beach safety.

Web sites

  • http://www.gohawaii.com. Hawaii’s official tourism site has tips for planning a visit, including accommodations and activities, plus a free visitors’ guide/travel planner.
  • http://www.hawaiiweb.com. This site offers a comprehensive list and photos of most, if not all, of the beaches on each island in Hawaii. It is an invaluable tool when trying to figure out where you want to visit. It also lists hazards, general surf conditions and good times to go.
  • gohawaii.about.com/cs/travelplanner/ht/when_to_visit.htm. This site offers some very basic but good information about when to visit Hawaii.
  • earth.google.com. Google Earth is a 3-D mapping system that lets you plot points anywhere on the globe and then zoom in. This helped when we were trying to decide where to rent a house on the North Shore. My husband would plot the location of the house to see how close it was to different beaches, then zoom in on the type of beach.
    Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

A view of Mokuleia Beach, where there are lodgings for rent. Head for the beaches on the North Shore of Oahu if you want to get away from the touristy crowds on Waikiki Beach.

Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

Waimea Valley Audubon Center has a beautiful waterfall that some guidebooks recommend as great for children. Be careful: It takes at least a 20-foot swim over very deep water to get to it.

Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

Each night, families can enjoy free music and hula shows at many hotels, and the children are able to get up and dance.

Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

You really do need a rental car to get from Point A to Point B so that you and the kids aren’t too tired to enjoy such lovely scenes. Sunscreen is a must at all times.

 

 

TRAVEL
On land and sea, kids can learn, have fun on Oahu

DATE: October 29, 2006
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Main; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Travel
PAGE: K5

USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. The “Fodor’s Hawai’i 2006” guide editor Mary Beth Bohman did not recommend taking small children to the Arizona Memorial. The wait is usually greater than two hours to go out on a boat to see the memorial. However, you can do kid-friendly things on the mainland for free and still get to experience the memorial. Within the Arizona Memorial, there are multiple displays explaining what happened the morning the Japanese attacked. Next door is the Bowfin submarine exhibit. You have to be at least 4 years old to go on the sub (my son didn’t qualify), but they have multiple exhibits outside the sub that are free and fun. They have a working child-size periscope as well as large artillery guns children can man like World War II soldiers. One note: You cannot bring a backpack, diaper bag, purse or large camera bag into the memorial area for safety reasons. We threw our sippy cups, sunscreen and camera loose into the bottom of the stroller, and they let us in.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (also known as the Punchbowl). This official cemetery of veterans of the Pacific wars (including World War II, Korea and Vietnam) is a beautiful and moving place. The cemetery lies in the Puowaina Crater, an extinct volcano. Roughly translated, Puowaina means “hill of sacrifice.” The cemetery is perfectly manicured with tropical flowers at each grave. Names of more than 28,000 veterans who didn’t return are engraved all around the cemetery. More than 35,000 soldiers are buried there. Kids will be fine if they can be somewhat quiet and respectful.

Diamond Head. I’m glad we didn’t get all worked up about forcing the kids to hike up the side of the crater. You can park inside the crater so you get to see it, and there are great views outside the crater without any hiking. I recommend a drive-through viewing of Diamond Head. Cost: $1 to walk in, $5 to park.

Waimea Valley Audubon Center. Conveniently located across from Waimea Bay, this park is a beautiful, stress-free way for families to experience what a tropical rain forest looks like. Tropical trees, flowers, birds and animals can be seen in their natural setting; a paved path makes it easy to stroll your little ones through the “jungle.” The “Frommer’s Hawaii 2006” guide recommended the waterfalls at the end of park as great for kids, but I disagree. The waterfall is beautiful, but it takes at least a 20-foot swim over very deep water to reach it. Lifeguards are on duty and offer life vests to all visitors; we watched the lifeguards save a grown man. There was no way I was letting my 5-year-old swim across that deep cold water, and she was very disappointed. Bring mosquito repellent. Cost: $8 for adults, $5 ages 4-12, under 4 free.

The Bishop Museum. If you have a car and an extra few hours, the Science Adventure Center in the Bishop Museum provides hands-on learning about volcanoes and oceanography for kids of all ages. Despite a long bus ride out there, my kids really enjoyed the volcano exhibits (the oceanography area is a little dark and scared my daughter). Kids can make a replica of a volcano explode with lava and gas. They can also push buttons to watch lava seep through underground networks to eventually erupt at ground level. They had wonderful photo explanations of the life cycle of the land after a volcano erupts and also explained how a volcano forms land. Cost: $14.95 for adults, $11.95 ages 4-12, under 3 free.

Beaches for kids

When planning a vacation with small children to Oahu, travel in the summer. The sea is relatively calm and children can swim easily, but beware of tides and rip currents. Most of the Oahu beach parks have warning signs to particular hazards and lifeguards on duty. During the winter months, beaches around Oahu are not safe for swimming, even for adults, because of rough surf.

Snorkel gear is available all over the North Shore, but you’ll do just fine with a set from any local grocery store for less than $15.

There is very little food service at these beaches; you need to bring a picnic. Most have decent restrooms and water fountains, but you may need to bring diaper wipes or toilet paper.

Waimea Bay Beach Park. This was one of the most picturesque beaches we saw. The small parking lot gets crowded quickly, so show up before 10 a.m. (Your other option is to park along the highway and walk; the beach is far away and the walk is dangerous with small children.) The bottom of the ocean drops off after about 8 or so feet and the water gets deep, so kids need to be aware of their location as they float. Dolphins like to come into the bay to rest. You can watch them play, but the lifeguards warn visitors to keep their distance. (Pursuit and feeding of marine mammals are prohibited by federal law. You aren’t supposed to get within 50 yards of the dolphins; plus sharks tend to follow them around.)

Sharks Cove. This is one of our favorite spots. It isn’t a traditional beach, but a reef surrounded by tidal pools. (In the wintertime, the waves are so high you cannot even see the reef.) There are scuba divers and snorkelers all around the area, but you don’t need to get that fancy to enjoy it. Kids just need some surf socks to protect their tender feet and a parent’s hand to guide them safely around the rocky areas. Our kids saw sea urchins, sea cucumbers and loads of fish. They had a great time exploring.

Three Tables. This beach, known for three reef outcroppings that people like to snorkel around, turned out to be a great place to play with the children. A flat shallow area in the water extended about 12 feet out before dropping off. It was a nice little ledge to safely float with the children and let them ride some waves on a Boogie board. My husband put my 5-year-old on the Boogie board and took her out to see some of the coral reefs. He would tell her to dip her face in (she wore goggles) when he saw something neat for her to look at. There’s no restroom on this beach.

Mokuleia. If you want to feel alone on Oahu, this is the beach for you, on the far northwest side of the island. Some scenes from the TV show “Lost” were shot on this beach. The water isn’t as pretty as some of the bays, and it seemed to have a rocky bottom, but you will be alone. We rented a house on this beach, and despite being in a neighborhood, we never saw anyone walking on the beach. Sometimes at the main beach park, you will find a few kite boarders. They attach a very large kite (it kind of looked like a parasail) to a modified wakeboard or surfboard. The kite drags them around the surface of the sea, and if they hit a wave right, they will take off 15 to 20 feet into the air. The kids loved to watch this.

Hanauma Bay. Less than 30 minutes outside Waikiki, this bay is absolutely breathtaking, but it is crowded. It is also a far walk from the parking lot to the beach, especially with kids and all their beach gear. We got out to see the bay and to take pictures, but we didn’t end up swimming there. They charge $1 to park, but if you leave within 15 minutes, you can get a refund. They also charge $5 to go onto the beach for ages 13 and older (an unusual beach fee).
Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

Sharks Cove is a great place on the North Shore of Oahu for families to explore tidal pools in the summer. In the winter, the waves are too fierce. Be sure everyone wears water slippers to protect their feet from the sharp coral while they get an up-close view of sea life.

THEME PARK SPECIAL SECTION: Tips for taking tots to Disney World
DATE: May 22, 2005
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Travel
PAGE: K14

We’ve just returned from three stressful, tough days of dragging a 2- and 4-year-old through the four parks at Walt Disney World.

“The Happiest Place on Earth” is anything but with a whiny, 30-pound 2-year-old who just wants to run free. While the under-5 set is one of the prime targets of Disney’s magic, it takes a little sorcery of your own to survive and enjoy the experience.

Here are our best tips for taking toddlers and preschoolers to Disney World:

Enjoying the visit

  • Be sensitive to the youngest child’s age. In our case, we shouldn’t have taken our 2-year-old. Our 4-year-old handled everything great. The 2-year-old didn’t understand why he was waiting in line and just wanted to play in the hotel’s pool. Our experience the previous year had been so much easier because he couldn’t walk yet, and he napped throughout the day. Most kids 3 and older understand that they have to wait their turn, and they will be rewarded with the ride at the end of the line. Most 2-year-olds don’t.
  • Visit only the Magic Kingdom with toddlers. Although Disney spokeswoman Michelle Baumann points out that all the parks are relevant to preschoolers and each has activities to interest them, I contend that the Magic Kingdom offers the most concentrated area of rides and characters for that age group. You have to focus your efforts so the whole family doesn’t get worn out. Baumann says families should plan their “must-see” rides and accomplish those first.
  • Visit one park a day. If you feel like you want to see the other parks, don’t try “park hopping” during the day. The word “hopping” suggests a carefree and easy process, which it is not. To switch from the Animal Kingdom to the Magic Kingdom, we had to turn in our park-rented double stroller, carry the 30-pound toddler and 20-pound backpack and drag the 4-year-old by the hand to the bus stop. After a 15-minute bus ride, we had to walk to ride a boat and then get through security and ticket lines to get into the park to pick up our new stroller. If you bring your own stroller, you have to take everything out of it and fold it flat.

Baumann says that park hopping with preschoolers is possible, but here is how it should be done: Go to the park as early as possible (especially if you’re staying at a Disney resort and can use the less-crowded Extra Magic Hour). Stay for several hours, and then around lunch go back to the hotel. Sleep, swim, read — do whatever will refresh the family, and then head to a different park for the evening hours, when it’s cooler and less crowded. Those not staying at Disney can go home, too. Just get your hand stamped, and your ticket and parking pass will get you back in later that day.

  • Take a day off between park days. We did two days back-to-back (Friday and Saturday) and the kids were like zombies on Saturday despite a good night’s rest. We took Sunday off before returning on Monday to the park, and they were more receptive. My kids loved the All-Star Movie resort’s playground and pool. We also all enjoyed visiting Downtown Disney, but it did tempt us to shop more.
  • Two days in the parks is really enough for most young kids. After that, they’re just exhausted and tired of the lines. (My advice runs contrary to what Disney has found in satisfaction surveys, according to Dave Herbst, a spokesman for Walt Disney World. He said they found that the longer people stayed, the more they were willing to take breaks and slow their pace, which made them happier overall.)

Strollers, etc.

  • If you’re renting a stroller from the park, pay for all the days you’ll need it on the first day. It’s a new service called a “length-of-stay stroller.” You can get a partial refund at the stroller stand in any of the parks or at Downtown Disney if you return it early. You will avoid a huge wait (25 minutes for us) each morning.
  • Leave your big diaper bag in the stroller when you go on rides. It is unlikely that anyone will mess with it. Take your wallet, camera, one diaper, wipes, sippy cups and snacks in a smaller, lighter bag in the line. No one bothered our big bag two years in a row. (I wouldn’t leave Disney merchandise in the stroller.)
  • The strollers have very little storage, but you can balance your bags on top while pushing.
  • Leave your stroller in a central spot and don’t move it for several rides. We parked near Mickey’s PhilharMagic in Fantasyland, rode it and Dumbo and hit the bathroom without moving the stroller.
  • Take advantage of the baby care centers in all four parks. Baumann says they are a “nice retreat from the pace of the theme parks.” They have rocking chairs, high chairs, spoons and changing tables, all free (most park restrooms have changing tables, too). They also have diapers, bibs, formula and baby food for sale, if you need them.

Surviving the lines

  • Alternate between rides with short lines and rides with long lines so the kids get some quick satisfaction. The first thing we did Monday was get a FastPass ticket for the Buzz Lightyear ride. We had an hour to fill in Tomorrowland, so we waited 25 minutes to ride the race cars and then walked right on to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. After we got off those, it was time for Buzz Lightyear.
  • The FastPass is valuable only if there is stuff nearby that you want to do. While waiting for our Jungle Cruise FastPass time to arrive, we decided to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean, which we love but feared would upset our daughter (it didn’t). Baumann says that even if we had to kill some time, at least we weren’t standing in a queue. She says that is the purpose of the FastPass — to keep you out of line. She suggests getting ice cream, seeing a character or just sitting and relaxing if there’s nothing else nearby to do.
  • The FastPass is important in Fantasyland, which always seems crowded because preschoolers can travel any time of year. Baumann, who is a mother of a 6- and 3-year-old, offers this strategy: Head to Fantasyland first thing in the morning. Get a FastPass for Peter Pan’s Flight or the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. (She also likes to FastPass Mickey’s PhilharMagic show, but I’ve never experienced a long line there.) Then get in line for Dumbo. Next, ride Cinderella’s Carousel (which typically does not have a long line), and then your FastPass time should be up. If it’s not up, she says hit It’s a Small World. However, on our recent trip, the newly remodeled Small World was packed and had a 45-minute wait.
  • Bring small, healthy snacks with you. Snack-size plastic bags filled with things like pretzels, graham cracker sticks, granola, raisins and cheese sticks kept their minds off the wait.
  • Matchbox cars, Simon Says, 20 questions, Disney trivia and hand-clapping games also helped occupy them in line. Baumann adds to the list blowing bubbles — which I think the neighbor kids in line would enjoy, too.
  • Playgrounds in the parks are a relatively new thing and really help keep the kids sane. Playgrounds are in Toontown in the Magic Kingdom (no older than preschoolers); the Space Base in Mission: Space, and dancing fountains near the Imagination pavilion in Epcot; the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure playground (for bigger kids, too) in the back of Disney’s-MGM Studios; and the Boneyard in Animal Kingdom (also good for bigger kids). The train, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Country Bear Jamboree and the Carousel of Progress are good breaks as well.

Saving some money

  • Bring in food and drinks. We saved so much money and avoided many lines by bringing our own snacks and water. > Pay the $10 extra to have a refrigerator in your hotel room. Again, we saved money just by having milk, juice, yogurt and fruit in our room for breakfast and snacks. Plus, you save time feeding the kids while you’re getting ready.
  • Get the kid’s meal for everyone. The quick food service areas in the parks offer kids’ meals that come with a nice portion of the main course, a side of vegetable or fruit and milk or juice box. In Animal Kingdom, the kid’s meal had a hot dog, ear of corn, apple sauce and milk for under $4.
  • If you do nothing else, don’t buy single rolls of film in the park. I stupidly bought two rolls for $10 each (400 speed, 36 exposure) off a cart and found out later the larger stores in the park sell five packs (five rolls of 24 exposures) for $20. I was too embarrassed to even tell my husband (though I guess he knows now).

Strategies for everyone

  • Pay attention to the Disney hotel rates to determine the most crowded days in the park. More expensive means more crowded. For this year, Disney’s Herbst says: The value season, when attendance is the lowest, is January into mid-February, Aug. 28-Oct. 4 and Nov. 27-Dec. 19. The regular season, which has higher attendance than value but less than peak, runs Oct. 5-Nov. 26, mid-April to mid-August and Oct. 5-Nov. 26. The peak season is Feb. 17-April 16. The holiday season runs Dec. 20-31.
  • During peak times, the weekends and Mondays are the most crowded. During nonpeak times, weekends can be OK, but Mondays are often still congested. Herbst explains that people who travel by car drive down during the weekend. This way, their first day in the park is Monday.
  • Head left when entering the park. Baumann says research shows that most people turn right in the Magic Kingdom. She says the other thing people do is stop at the first ride they see (especially true at Epcot’s Spaceship Earth).
  • The Magic Kingdom is most busy at the beginning of the week because families want to go there first. For smaller crowds, visit the other parks first.
  • Even though the Extra Magic Hour (the parks take turns opening an hour early for guests staying at Disney hotels) is not congested, the park offering the Magic Hour tends to be more congested during regular hours. So if you can’t get in during the Magic Hour, you may want to avoid the park offering it that day. On the other hand, parks with Magic Hours at night don’t tend to be more crowded than normal.
  • For the next 18 months, visitors arriving by air and staying at a Disney hotel can use the Magical Express to whisk their luggage from the Orlando airport to their hotel room (like a cruise line does). And you can ride a bus to the hotel for free.

What’s your best tip for visiting Disney with children? Share it with us on our travel blog, Gotta Go!, at ajc.com/travel.
Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

Street performers near the France exhibit in Epcot also offer an entertaining diversion for the family.

Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

When kids need a break, head for one of Disney World’s playgrounds. Climbing the giant ants at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground in MGM-Disney Studios will let them burn off excess energy and get some exercise, too.

 

SUMMER TRAVEL / SPECIAL SECTION: Child’s Play in New Orleans
Queasy about the Big Easy with kids? Aquarium, zoo, museums put fears to rest

DATE: May 8, 2005
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Travel
PAGE: K1

New Orleans — Six years ago, pre-kids, the Big Easy was a lot of fun: late-night dinners at posh restaurants, drinking, throwing beads from balconies and checking out the cabaret shows.

None of these activities is appropriate for our 4-year-old and 2-year-old (not even the beads, a choking hazard), so I was a little leery when my husband invited us to accompany him on a business trip. There are plenty of attractions just for kids, but I was worried about the city itself.

New Orleans is not like the disinfected copies of cities you find at Epcot. It has history, culture, art, architecture, street artists and musicians. It also has con artists, lewd behavior and lots of drunks on the street. (Hey, but so does Athens on a game day — and there are lots of little Bulldogs visiting there.)

The city’s reputation for partying may cause families to hesitate, but, like us, they go anyway. An online poll released in March by Yahoo Travel and National Geographic Traveler magazine named New Orleans the top family vacation destination in America. According to the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., the city’s tourism organization, families make up nearly 15.5 percent of visitors, growing 225 percent in 2004.

Our family found plenty of activities that were easily accessible by walking or the trolley. The locals and tourists were helpful. And two separate visitors’ groups were very willing to name family-friendly lodgings and gourmet restaurants that kept the kids happy, too.

We found we could avoid most questionable sights by just being aware of where we were and the time of day. But we couldn’t avoid the lewd T-shirts: On the sidewalk in front of almost every souvenir shop you see shirts with curse words or naked breasts.

“I was thankful they couldn’t read it,” said Alicia Philipp of Lilburn. Alicia and Dan took their two children, then 3 years old and 8 months, to visit family last October. Alicia had concerns about the cleanliness of the city (physically and the actions of tourists), but said her children had a great time at the attractions.

So did ours. In three days, we explored the aquarium, the zoo and the children’s museum. We stumbled onto an open-air market on Saturday morning, and visited a fire house one night walking home from dinner. Plus, the children adored the fancy fountains, statues, strolling musicians and artists.

My little girl loved eating beignets from Cafe du Monde while we strolled the city window shopping before our afternoon nap back at the hotel.

Lisa King’s family from Bellevue, Neb., took in many of the same attractions that we did, including the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, where we ran into her. Her 5-year-old son Alex particularly liked the touch tanks that allow the children to pet sharks and starfish. She said they were a little disappointed at the penguin feeding because strollers blocked their view. The aquarium exhibits include sea life from North and South America and a special section on Mississippi River life.

Later, King’s family took a riverboat ride. She said even her 14-month-old son Jacob was fascinated by the barges passing by.

One thing the Kings did that we didn’t even consider was visiting a gator ranch. They drove about an hour north to Covington to visit the Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery Education Foundation. She highly recommends it and said it was perfectly safe. The two boys fed the alligators and held baby gators that had their mouths taped shut. Alex’s opinion: It was awesome.

We took a cruise to get to the zoo aboard the John James Audubon. I had worried about the kids falling overboard, but the two bottom levels are enclosed. The kids enjoyed seeing the barges, steamboats and cruise ships pass us. My son loved the cranes lifting cargo from the ships in the river. They were fascinated by the river being dredged. Several spouts spewed muddy muck from the sides of the river into the middle portion so the dirt could flow down stream.

Fairly early in the cruise, you could get lunch, with food that looked perfect for kids, hot dogs and fried chicken. One woman said she started at the aquarium, used the cruise for lunch and then spent the afternoon at the zoo. (It would be too exhausting for small children but a good idea for older kids.)

The Audubon Zoo’s interactive exhibits allow close access to the animals — in one case, too close: Small birds kept following us and one pooped on me. The giraffes, rhinos, lions, tigers and elephants seemed much closer than at Atlanta’s zoo. A bayou exhibit features alligators and fat raccoons.

My kids loved Monkey Hill, a grassy mountain they could run up and roll down on one side; on the other side, they could traverse a netted walkway like monkeys.

The zoo also had some beautiful open space with a fountain in the middle and shade from the sun, similar to the squares in Savannah. You could picnic or just let the kids safely run off energy.

The trolley ride home was tremendously fun, but be prepared if you’re managing kids and strollers. This is mass transportation for the residents of New Orleans, much like the subway in New York. You must enter and exit quickly. Expect to part with backpacks, diaper bags and strollers — those are placed up front near the driver. A double stroller will not fit aboard.

Your hotel and all the brochures continually warn that you must have exact change to ride the trolley ($1.25 one way). What they don’t mention is that part about quick entry and exit. The trolley driver scolded me the whole time she was helping me on because my umbrella stroller was not collapsed yet and my baby was not in my arms.

The ride through the Garden District is beautiful and the children loved the movement, the stops, the bell and seeing all the people getting on and off.

On Saturday, we tried to visit the D-Day Museum. I didn’t think the kids would be interested in the exhibits — I just thought they would be indifferent and I would enjoy it. Big mistake.

The lights are dim and the atmosphere is somber. Men who fought in World War II were reliving pivotal moments in their lives. All the while, my 4-year-old was shrieking, “It’s spooky in here Mama! Let’s leave!”

The museum is divided into the Pacific side and the Normandy side. Each path is slender and appeared to be one way. We couldn’t easily exit so we rushed through as quickly as possible. The museum’s spokesperson says they recommend children be at least 10 to see the Normandy side and 12 to see the Pacific side. I wish I could have explored it for hours — the parts that I quickly saw were amazing.

Completely embarrassed, we fled to the Louisiana Children’s Museum. I found the width of the bottom floor to be more manageable than Atlanta’s Imagine It children’s museum. I could keep an eye on both children even if they were interested in different activities. They loved the air hockey table where they explored the concept of ricochet. My daughter studied very hard how to lift her own weight on a pulley system.

The museum’s toddler area is much larger than Atlanta’s. It’s fenced in, and I could relax while they explored. Two of their favorite exhibits had New Orleans flavor: a pretend port where they could load and unload containers and a trolley my daughter could drive.

We didn’t make it to the Mardi Gras museum, the jazz museum, the dollhouse museum, the Confederate Museum or the Southern artists museum, which are just a few of the things still on our list when we return. Next time, we won’t hesitate.
Photo

THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

Children follow the path of a netted walkway at the Audubon Zoo’s Monkey Hill, where they can run, jump and roll like primates.

Photo

RICHARD NOWITZ / New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau

Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter, is a gathering spot for artists and musicians.

Photo

CARL PURCELL / New Orleans Metropolitan C&VB

A fast entrance and exit is expected on the city’s trolleys.

Photo

Audubon Nature Institute

Kids can have the animals eating out of their hands while visiting one of the Audubon Zoo’s interactive exhibits.

Photo

CARL PURCELL / New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau

Coffee and beignets are the order of the day at Cafe Du Monde, a must stop for both tourists and locals.

Graphic

TIPS FOR VISITING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

  • Return to your hotel by nightfall. Your kids will be tired anyway, and the city starts to get a little rowdier. You’ll see more people with drinks in their hands, and you’ll start getting looks like you’re the crazy one for having your kids out at 8 p.m.
  • Don’t go on Bourbon Street, no matter what time of day. We peeked from a corner around 6 p.m., and saw women flashing and people drinking, along with loud bands — all too intense for my toddler and preschooler.
  • Try to visit during weekdays. From Friday night on, the city gets more rowdy and crowded. During our Saturday morning walk to the children’s museum, we frequently caught the waft of old beer and urine.

Map

KATIE RIDLEY / Staff

Map pinpoints the location of New Orleans in Louisiana. Inset map shows Area of detail.

Graphic

IF YOU GO

Getting there

  • Flying: Prices vary from $250 to $550, nonstop, depending on length of stay and advance purchase.
  • Driving: From downtown Atlanta to New Orleans is about 495 miles. It took us 9 1/2 hours with three stops, including a sit-down dinner. Take I-85 south to Montgomery, I-65 south to Mobile and pick up I-10 west to New Orleans. Go online to neworleansonline.com and click on Plan Your Trip for the cheapest gas prices along the route.

Where to eat

  • Maspero’s, 601 Decatur St. 504-523-6250. Lunch or dinner. Casual atmosphere in the French Quarter with excellent food. Louisiana favorites, as well as kid stand-bys.
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., 429 Decatur St. 504-522-5800. The food at this chain restaurant was surprisingly good. There was no wait at 6:30 p.m. They have an elevator, so no stroller worries. The calamari was tasty; the coconut shrimp was plentiful and sweet. We ordered a regular fried chicken dinner for the kids to share because I wanted them to have some vegetables. It was way too much food and the waitress told me later I could have ordered any of the vegetables as side dishes. Items on the children’s menu come with carrots and celery.
  • Carmelo Ristorante, 541 Decatur St., 504-586-1414. This formal Italian restaurant was recommended by a local who takes his child there. The staff brought plain spaghetti with butter and cheese for the kids before I even ordered. It kept them busy while I enjoyed a glass of wine and some bruschetta. My pasta dish with mussels, clams, shrimp and calamari was fresh and well-prepared. We shared a large cannoli at the end of the meal. The restaurant was empty at 6 p.m. (the crowd showed up much later). No one noticed my daughter re-enacting with me the spaghetti scene from “Lady and the Tramp.”

Where to stay

  • New Orleans has plenty of hotels to choose from, including many with suites, which are nice when trying to put children to bed. Check them out on the visitor information Web sites.

What to do

  • Audubon Institute includes the zoo, aquarium, Imax theater, nature center, planetarium and the future insectarium. These facilities are spread throughout the city. All can be reached at 1-866-487-2966, http://www.auduboninstitute.org. You can buy zoo, aquarium and zoo cruise packages.
  • Audubon Zoo: 1,500 animals inhabit a 50-acre garden setting. Food available in the park, but you can bring in picnics. $12 adults; $7 ages 2-12.
  • Audubon Aquarium of the Americas: $16 adults; $9.50 ages 2-12.
  • Audubon Insectarium: Expected to open this winter. It will be a free-standing museum devoted to insects with 23,000 square feet in the U.S. Customs House.
  • Aquarium Zoo Cruise: 1-800-233-2628, http://www.steam boatnatchez.com. Offered by the New Orleans Steamboat Co., the cruise takes you seven miles from the aquarium to the zoo. The captain highlights activities at one of the busiest ports in the world. Book in advance online. Trip lasts 40 minutes to an hour. Round trip: $17 adults, $8.50 ages 2-12; one way: $13 adults, $6.50 ages 2-12.
  • Louisiana Children’s Museum, 420 Julia St. 504-523-1357, http://www.lcm.org. In the redeveloped Warehouse District with many other museums. Mostly snack food inside, and you can leave and return with that day’s receipt. $7 adults and children 1 and older.
  • National D-Day Museum, 945 Magazine St., 504-527-6012, http://www.ddaymuseum.org.

$14 ages 18-64; $8 students 13-17 and senior citizens 65 and over; $6 ages 6-12 or active and retired military or spouses with ID; free for members of the museum, military in uniform and for ages 5 and under.

  • Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery Education Foundation. 985-892-3669, http://www.insta-gatorranch.com. $10; $7 ages 12 and younger.
  • Tipitina’s, 501 Napoleon Ave., 504-895-8477, http://www.tipitinas.com. Alicia Philipp of Lilburn said her 3-year-old and niece had a fantastic time dancing at this Cajun dance club and bar. The kids tried on a washboard instrument and played their chests with spoons. Philipp said the stroller was a tight fit and it was a little too loud for her 8-month-old. Performers vary, so call to make sure children are welcome.

Information

  • New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau: 1-800-672-6124, 504-566-5003, http://www.neworleanscvb.com. Features hotel and restaurant information, and you can book online. Ask for “The Big Easy for Families” brochure; it has a small colorful map that details the sections of the city and highlights some points of interest.
  • New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp.: 1-800-203-2144, neworleansonline.com. You can look up and book hotels, find restaurants, and read about destinations and festivals. Also offers a free booklet with coupons.

 

Getaway: Irish kin strengthen ties with Savannah gathering
DATE: March 12, 2003
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Features
PAGE: F1

Among the 250,000 revelers converging on Savannah this weekend for St. Patrick’s Day will be three generations of my family.

While the rest of the country thinks Savannah’s celebration is a beer-guzzling parade for partiers, Irish families who grew up there know it’s a lot more special.

More than 25 Walsh aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins — ranging in age from their 60s to 6 months — will be together for this Irish high holiday, traveling from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland, Boston, Atlanta and Athens. My uncles will be bringing with them sweet memories of St. Patrick’s Days when all six were young and alive, watching their father and uncles resplendent in green “walking” the parade. This gathering is a new Walsh family tradition, the second annual reunion of what my uncles hope will be many more. They want to pass on their close family ties, their love for being Irish and their love for Savannah to a new generation, their grandchildren.

“I can remember seeing my father and my uncles and my cousins in the parade. No females were allowed in those days,” says 64-year-old Tony L. Walsh Jr., a retired chemical company executive who lives in Philadelphia.

Uncle Tony was the oldest of the six Walsh brothers and throughout my childhood was called “The Hammer” for his no-nonsense demeanor. Yet as he reminisced about his boyhood St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, he broke into tears several times. And so did some of the other brothers.

The boys grew up in Savannah during the 1940s and 1950s. Born over a 10-year span, the brothers are Tony, Steve, Emmet, Terence, Dennis and Johnny. After college, four of the brothers settled elsewhere. Military service, career and family often prevented them from getting to Savannah every St. Patrick’s Day, but that was the day they most wanted to be home.

Steve and Johnny both returned to Savannah to live. In 1990, we lost my Uncle Steve, my Uncle Johnny and my Grandfather Walsh. After the third funeral that year, the priest told us he wanted to see the Walshes gather in Savannah for a happy occasion, and now we are.

It is the St. Patrick’s holiday that is a common thread of my uncles’ childhood memories. Though the youngest boys and the oldest grew up in different eras, they all marched in the parade as elementary students at Sacred Heart Parochial School, wearing red beanies and red ties, trying to please the scary nuns. Later they marched as adults, greeting neighbors and old friends.

“We started at about the fourth or fifth grade. The Benedictine Military School [the Catholic high school] boys would come over about three or four weeks before St. Patrick’s Day. They would line us up according to height and age and parade us around the block,” says Uncle Terence Walsh, a 58-year-old maintenance technician from Jonesboro. “When we’d come down Bull Street, up on the balcony on the Knights of Columbus porch, all the nuns of the city sat, and they put their binoculars on you. You were dead meat if you didn’t look right.”

Uncle Dennis Walsh, a 57-year-old sales and marketing director in Paducah, Ky., remembers it as sort of a forced march. “When the nuns tell you to do something, you just do it.”

As the brothers recounted their marching experiences to me, they each broke into song. As children, they had learned the Savannah classic, “It’s St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah,” by A.J. Handiboe. One brother crooned over the phone “It’s St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah. All the boys are on parade.” Then a few days later, another would pick it up with “Sure the folks down here never miss a year.” By the end of the fourth interview, I had heard the entire song. My Uncle Terence even dug up sheet music for it.

All of the schools let out for St. Patrick’s Day, so after the boys marched in the parade, they would head to the Krystal for a dime hamburger, a nickel Coke and then go to a 14-cent movie. My cooler uncles remember having dates at the movies when they were in middle school. My father, Emmet M. Walsh Sr., a 59-year-old engineer and business owner from Stone Mountain, on the other hand, remembers taking his three little brothers while my grandmother, Mary Cecile Holland Walsh, was getting her annual break from her house full of boys.

After the parade, my grandmother and my grandfather, Tony L. Walsh Sr., would head to the DeSoto Hilton for corned beef and cabbage and then to the Knights of Columbus for dancing, drinking and socializing with the Old Fort Irish. The term came from a downtown Savannah neighborhood (formerly a fort) where many Irish Catholics lived in the early 1900s.

“Everybody they knew lived there. It was like an Irish gang,” explains Uncle Steve’s widow, Aunt Joann Walsh, 57, of Savannah. “They rejoiced in their heritage and their beliefs.”

Aunt Joann thinks that those feelings of love for heritage and family were why St. Patrick’s Day was the most important day of the year for Uncle Steve. A Feb. 29th baby, he adopted St. Patrick’s Day as his birthday, and he would take his three children to the parade every year. Much like my grandmother, my Aunt Joann would get the day off. She would fix green grits and eggs for breakfast and then send them off to Mass at the cathedral and then to the parade.

My cousin Sharon Walsh Clark, now 29 with two children in Savannah, says she felt like royalty when she would go to the parade with her father Steve because everybody knew him. He would kiss dozens of women and tell her they were his cousins.

“I didn’t know we had so many cousins. It turned out a lot of them were just friends,” says Sharon. “Nobody knows who I am without him.”

Sharon hasn’t attended the parade since her father’s death in 1990, but plans to go on Monday.

The St. Patrick’s Day after Uncle Steve’s death, his fellow classmates from BC (Benedictine Military School) wore black armbands to honor him as they walked the parade.

After Uncle Steve, my Uncle Terence has attended the most St. Patrick’s Days in Savannah, 27 times in the past 40 years. Asked why, he says he truly believes that the Irish are called to return to Savannah to honor St. Patrick.

Most of the time he still manages to slip into the parade and “walk” as locals call it. It’s like an Easter parade, he says; you stroll, stepping out to chat with your friends.

My Uncle Denny remembers my grandfather and some of my uncles stepping out of the parade and into a bar through its front door, grabbing a drink and then stepping back into the parade through the bar’s back door. You never march with the beer in your hand — that’s “declasse” he says.

My cousin Sharon says she’s most excited about being with her uncles this weekend because she wants her 3-year-old son Walter to learn about his grandfather, my Uncle Steve, from his brothers.

Walter and all the other grandbabies are exactly who my dad wants to see in Savannah.

“Time’s running out, and I want to see all my nieces and nephews and all their children. And bring my grandchildren down and brag about mine so all my brothers can see them,” says my father through some tears.

As for me, I am so excited to see my aunts, uncles and cousins, and the new babies that came since last year’s celebration, that I’m heading to Savannah this weekend eight months pregnant and at risk of early labor. I hope that my 2-year-old daughter, my baby and all the children of the Walsh cousins learn to love Savannah and cherish their relatives as much as we do.
Photo: Tony Walsh covers his heart while he and wife, Mary Cecile, enjoy an early-1960s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah. / Walsh family photo

Photo: Theresa Walsh Giarrusso with daughter Rose, then 1, at last year’s parade in Savannah. Three generations of the Walsh family will gather in the city to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day in what the family is making a yearly tradition. / Family photo

Map: ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE

Good places to view the parade are:

  1. Calhoun Square on Abercorn Street, near the start of the parade route.
  2. Colonial Park Cemetery, also on Abercorn Street, between Oglethorpe Avenue and Liberty Street.
  3. Chippewa Square, near the end of the parade route, also between Oglethorpe Avenue and Liberty Street.
  4. Bleachers will be set up by the Boy Scouts of America at Factors Walk on Bay Street, Pirates’ House at Broughton and East Broad streets, Colonial Cemetery at Abercorn Street and Oglethorpe Avenue, and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist at Liberty and Abercorn streets.

Sources: Savannah Police Department, Parade Committee / KATIE RIDLEY / Staff

Graphic: IF YOU GO

This is a great year to be spontaneous and head to Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day at the last minute. The president of the Savannah Convention and Visitors Bureau says the expected number of visitors is lower this year than in past years, which means there are hotel rooms available even at this late date. The number of people attending the parade has topped 400,000 in the past, but this year the city expects 200,000 to 250,000, partly because the parade isn’t on a weekend day. So pull out your green and hit the road for the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in America.

Getting there

> Savannah is 252 miles from downtown Atlanta, about a 4 1/2-hour drive. Take I-75 south to Macon. In Macon, take I-16 east toward Savannah, then follow I-16 east to downtown Savannah. The Savannah International Airport is 20 minutes from downtown, with more than 40 direct flights departing daily.

Where to stay

> Rooms are still available for the weekend in Savannah at a variety of prices. The Savannah Convention and Visitors Bureau is updating daily a list of hotels with rooms available on its Web site at http://www.savannahvisit.com. You may also find vacancies in communities surrounding Savannah. For more information, check out: Tybee Island, http://www.tybeevisit.com, 1-800-868-2322; Pooler, http://www.pooler-ga.com, 912-748-9121; Port Wentworth, http://www.portwentworthga.com, 912-965-1999; Richmond Hill, http://www.richmondhillga.com, 1-800-807-4848. Beaufort and Hilton Head, S.C., are about 40 miles from Savannah and should also have rooms available.

Where to eat

> Savannah has many locally owned restaurants with lots of personality. The following restaurants can be vouched for by one or more of the Walsh clan.

> Williams Seafood Restaurant, 8010 Tybee Road, 912-897-2219. You’ll find 22 members of the Walsh family here on Sunday night. Every trip down, the Walshes eat at Williams. It’s not fancy, just good, solid fresh seafood — much of it deep fried. The deviled crab and fried shrimp combo is a personal favorite. The 67-year-old restaurant does not take reservations, but the turnover is usually fast. 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays.

> Johnny Harris Restaurant, 1651 E. Victory Drive, 912-354-7810. Serving Savannah since 1924, it specializes in barbecue, steaks, chicken and local seafood. Uncle Tony Walsh says this roadhouse has the absolute best barbecue pork sandwiches anywhere. The restaurant is recommending reservations for Friday and Saturday, but will take walk-ins. On St. Patrick’s Day, it is first come, first serve. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays, closed Sunday.

> Sapphire Grill, 110 W. St. Julian St., 912-443-9962. This 5-year-old multistory artsy restaurant is a bit fancier and pricier than some of the other restaurants, but well worth the money. It has won a Zagat Survey Award for 2002-2003 and was voted one of the “Top 10 Neighborhood Restaurants” by Bon Appetit magazine. Offering seafood and meats, it also has a chef’s tasting table of five courses. Reservations are recommended and although it is smack downtown, it is seeking the sedate crowd for St. Patrick’s Day. 5:30-11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 6-10:30 p.m. Sundays and Mondays.

> The Pirates’ House, 20 E. Broad St., 912-233-5757. A tradition in Savannah with lots of folklore, the restaurant is said to have pirates’ tunnels underneath where kidnapped people would be spirited back to ships on the river. The parade goes by the restaurant, and it will be offering barbecue, fried oysters and beer in the parking lot, as well as a buffet inside. Open Saturday and Sunday only for dinner with its regular menu; open St. Patrick’s Day, 7:30-10:30 a.m. for breakfast, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for lunch, 5:30-9 p.m. for dinner. Reservations are recommended for all three days.

Where to park

> Parade organizers recommend using clearly marked city lots. Cars parked in makeshift lots or on city streets run the risk of being towed.

Other weekend events

> Friday-Sunday: Annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in City Market featuring live music. City Market, West St. Julian and Jefferson streets. 912-232-4903.

> Saturday: Tara Feis Irish Festival, offering authentic Irish entertainment including music, dance and food. Free. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Emmet Park. 912-651-6417.

> Monday: St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The 179th edition of the parade begins at 10:15 a.m. on Abercorn and Gwinnett streets, ends on Bull and Harris streets, about four hours later. 912-233-4804.

Information

> Savannah Convention and Visitors Bureau, http://www.savannahvisit.com, 1-877-728-2662

 

 

Summer Time: Hilton Head’s friendly nature
S.C. island offers more than beaches

DATE: August 11, 2002
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Travel
PAGE: K1
MEMO: A series on Atlantans’ favorite places to get away

Hilton Head Island, S.C. — When our fair-skinned family vacationed in Florida in the 1980s, we routinely spent four hours watching “CHiPs” reruns, playing bumper pool and taking naps to avoid the sunniest part of the day in a beach town with few trees and little shade.

Three years ago, my husband introduced me to a better way to beach — an island with enough shade and non-beach activities that even the palest can find plenty to do during the middle of the day.

Hilton Head Island, about 250 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta, is 12 miles long and 5 miles wide. Its beaches and ocean are clean and uncrowded, but one of the main things that attracts our family is its thriving wildlife and vegetation. More than two-thirds of the island was a hunting preserve in the early 1900s, and through strictly controlled development and some goodwill, much of the forest remains.

The island is filled with moss-draped live oaks, magnolias, yellow pines and palmettos. Nature trails for horseback riding, biking and walking weave throughout the resorts (known as plantations). Alligators, turtles, dolphins, deer, birds and frogs are as easy to spot as a tourist in a sport utility vehicle.

Most Atlantans know the island’s reputation as a great place for golfers and tennis players — it has 20 championship public courses and more than 300 courts. But island officials don’t turn cars away just because there are no clubs or rackets in the trunk. More than 81,000 Atlantans visited Hilton Head Island last year, and many of them never teed off or served.

During the July Fourth weekend, Doug Dershimer of Suwanee and his three little girls were mounting up at Lawton Stables in Sea Pines plantation. He brought 5-year-old twins Katherine and Elizabeth to ride ponies. Two-year-old Caroline watched under shady trees as she ate animal crackers. Dershimer’s wife, Lisa, has family on Hilton Head, so they visit three or four times a year.

“The island and Sea Pines [are] family-friendly,” Dershimer says as a daughter sits atop one of four ponies. Plus, “It’s just not as hot as Florida.”

Tom and Cookie Saladino of Conyers began bringing their three children to Hilton Head about 30 years ago after the family moved to Atlanta from New York. He heard about the island because of the tennis and golf, but they have returned about a dozen times for other reasons.

“It’s peaceful and quiet and yet you’re close to everything,” Tom Saladino says. “[The plantation] was self-contained; it was secured. The traffic in there can’t go very fast. It had everything that the children needed,” he says. “It’s a five-minute walk to the beach, [with] plenty of space on the beach.”

For Melissa and James Stevens of Vinings, part of the attraction is the casual atmosphere.

“Neither one of us wanted to bring slacks,” says Melissa Stevens. “We both have to dress up every day. We don’t want to be dressed up for everything.”

The couple say they will visit the island about six times this year. James Stevens’ parents have a home on the beach, and his grandparents’ home is right by the bridge. They like to play golf in the mornings, and then hit the beach in the afternoon. They also love the island’s happy hours, with lots of inexpensive seafood and drinks.

Sometimes after a morning of playing golf in Bluffton, S.C. (Melissa Stevens says the courses are great and the rates cheaper than on the mainland), they will pick up a pound of shrimp, take it back to the condo, boil it, put it on ice and sit outside with drinks, enjoying a relaxing lunch.

As for my family, the things we like about Hilton Head have changed, as we have. In May 2000, when we visited together for the first time, it was just the two of us and another couple. We stayed in a two-bedroom condo in Palmetto Dunes plantation.

We played tennis. We rode bikes, checked out turtles and spent loads of time on the beach. We made margaritas in the condo and played games late into the evening.

On our second trip, in September 2001, we had a 5-month-old baby. We met friends from Washington and stayed in Palmetto Dunes again. We spent mornings and late afternoons on the beach, and at midday took the baby for a stroll under the oaks and pines. Our townhouse had a screened porch so we rocked the baby to sleep in the fresh air at night. We took day trips to Charleston (95 miles northeast) and Savannah (45 miles southeast).

On our most recent trip, over July Fourth weekend, our 14-month-old daughter was ready to explore the island. She saw deer and alligators from the screened porch in our Sea Pines townhouse. She saw turtles in the little lagoons as we walked to the beach. We visited the ponies, the Coastal Discovery Museum and the little art museum at the visitors center. We checked out shops in Coligny Plaza and bought massive wands to make bubbles on the beach.

Our favorite part was the dolphin tour we took with Lowcountry Nature Tours. Captain Scott Henry took us out in a deck boat for two hours touring Broad Creek, which cuts through the center of the island. He takes only six people per tour, so he answered all our questions. We saw about 10 dolphins, two of which came close enough for the baby to see, and she loved it.

As our daughter grows, we plan to try more of the island’s activities — riding horses and bicycles, kayaking and fishing. We plan to return soon, and we’re hoping to take my fair-skinned parents so they can see there’s more to an afternoon at the beach than watching reruns and taking naps.
Photo: A rider heads back to Lawton Stables after her noontime excursion into a shady forest preserve. / THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

Map: Map of Hilton Head Island with an inset of South Carolina. / ROB SMOAK / Staff

Photo: Rose Giarrusso, 14 months, beams her approval of the Stars and Stripes. Are sand castles next? / THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO / Special

Photo: If you want an alternative to Hilton Head, head for a relaxing day at the beach in Bluffton. / Bluffton [S.C.] Chamber of Commerce

Photo: James Stevens of Vinings goes for a stroll with Dextuh near his grandparents’ community in Hilton Head Island. A typical day for Stevens and his wife, Melissa, includes golf in the morning and the beach in the afternoon. / MELISSA STEVENS / Special

Graphic: IF YOU GO

Getting there

It’s about a five-hour drive from downtown Atlanta. Take I-75 south to I-16 in Macon. Head east to I-95, then north on I-95. Take Exit 8 onto U.S. 278 to Hilton Head Island. For attractions and accommodations on the south end of the island, take the Cross Island Parkway. It will cost you $1 but cuts time and traffic.

Where to stay

> The island offers scads of hotels, homes, villas and condos. Many of the accommodations are inside “plantations,” but it’s easy to find rooms that are not. You can always go through the plantations’ rental offices, but you can generally find lower rates using independent rental agents. They don’t like to rent the villas for less than a week, but you can get partial weeks if you wait until about 10 days before you go. You’ll find many independent rental agents listed at http://www.hiltonheadisland.org.

The Hilton Head Chamber of Commerce has gathered many sources for accommodations, and you can book your stay through the above Web site or call 1-800-523-3373.

Where to eat

> The Old Oyster Factory: Probably one of the best-known restaurants in Hilton Head, it is well worth the long wait (about an hour each time we’ve gone). It overlooks the water and has a roomy smoke-free bar for drinks and appetizers. Try the hush puppies. 843-681-6040.

> Charley’s Crab: A sophisticated decor and menu. The restaurant overlooks Skull Creek’s broad waters. It has outdoor seating as well as screened porches. Reservations recommended. 843-342-9066.

> The Smokehouse: Great barbecue at reasonable prices. Family-friendly, with seating indoors or on a large deck. Takeout menu. 843-842-4227.

> Giuseppi’s Pizza and Pasta: This family-friendly restaurant in Shelter Cove serves some of the best pizza on the island. Also salads, subs, pasta and calzones at reasonable prices. 843-785-4144.

> Bluffton Oyster Company: If you’d rather cook your own seafood, Melissa Stevens of Vinings highly recommends this shop on the mainland. “It’s a little old shack, but the guy has the best oysters I have ever put in my mouth.” 63 Wharf St., Bluffton (about 20 minutes from the island). 843-757-4010.

Attractions

> Lowcountry Nature Tours: The two-hour dolphin cruise is well worth $30 ($25 under 13; under 2 free). Longer cruises go to Daufuskie Island, where you can beachcomb and swim ($50 adults; $40 under 13; under 2 free). In Shelter Cove Marina. 843-683-0187.

Other companies offer nature tours of this type. Some take out larger groups on big boats, others use smaller pontoon boats.

> Coastal Discovery Museum: On the second floor of the welcome center, this small, free museum teaches kids about the Lowcountry environment. It offers information and hands-on activities about wildlife, vegetation and the ocean. Check out the art museum to the right as you enter the welcome center; it’s small but has interesting work. At the north end of U.S. 278 at Mile Marker 1 as you cross the bridge from the mainland. 843-689-6767.

> Lawton Stables: Offering trail rides and pony rides. The stable’s guides lead 100 to 150 people a day into a 600-acre forest preserve. Trail rides last about an hour and cost $40; reservations required. Pony rides in the paddock are $5. In Sea Pines. 843-671-2586.

More information

> Call for free dining, shopping and activity guides, plus a schedule of monthly events, or order the guides online. 1-800-523-3373, http://www.hiltonheadisland.org.

You also need to know

> Traffic circles: Hilton Head has several traffic circles and smaller roundabouts. If you’re not careful, you will end up going around and around before figuring out you have to merge right to get off. Town manager Steve Riley says they’re great to manage traffic without having four-way stops or lights. But they do take some getting used to.

> Signage: One of Hilton Head’s hallmarks is its low-key signage for businesses — even the Golden Arches are short and wooden. This can be a bit frustrating when searching for the Publix entrance at 10 p.m. Keep your eyes low.

> Questions to ask when renting: One of the downsides to renting through an independent agent is that you may not have access to all a plantation’s amenities. For example, we stayed in Sea Pines on our last visit, but our tennis privileges were at courts miles away and our pool was not within walking distance. Ask exactly how far the accommodations are from the beach, pool, tennis courts, golf course and basketball courts.

> Bugs: Just as we enjoy the trees and shade on the island, the mosquitoes do, too. Bring bug spray, anti-itch cream and a mosquito net for your baby stroller.

> Free guidebooks: They’re available at many local businesses. We found two particularly helpful: “Where to Go on Hilton Head Island” and the “Hilton Head Island Restaurants” guide, with more than 125 menus.

 

 

Chapter and Verse just for kids
Choosing a Bible or religious storybooks for children can be hard. Experts offer ideas on stocking the bookshelf for the younger set.

DATE: August 24, 2002
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Religion Faith & Values
PAGE: B1

Meta Miller’s granddaughter, Sophie, is only 9 months old, but she’s already learning about her Jewish faith.

“We have these little hardback books about Shabbat and the Sabbath table,” Miller says. “And at night before Sophie goes to sleep, we say a prayer [with her].”

Miller, who is the early childhood education coordinator for Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Sandy Springs, has taught for 17 years. She’s fortunate because she knows when and how to introduce her grandchild to God and their family’s religion. She also knows which of the multitude of children’s Bibles and religious books are worth buying.

Not all parents are so lucky. And as thousands of kids head to Sunday or Hebrew school in the coming weeks, we asked faith leaders, professors and people in the publishing industry what criteria should be used when seeking books designed to help children develop faith.

Ronald Hecker Cram, associate professor of Christian education at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, says, “The introduction of the child to the community of faith starts before birth. It doesn’t start, like, age 2. That’s too late.”

Cram says by age 3 the child’s image of God is already beginning to form. By age 7, the child has the image he will refer to all through life. At that age, the child is beginning to think concretely and use the language that he has heard. So, for example, if God has been talked about as judge, the child will think of God in that manner and may be afraid.

Carol Garrison, preschool and children’s minister at Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, agrees that starting young is best.

“I’ve noticed that when someone is pregnant, they will tell the baby that they love the baby, play classical music. They will do all kinds of things, and they believe the child is learning from that,” says Garrison. She believes religion should be included in that learning.

“Introduce the Bible to babies by using pictures and Bible thoughts, like ‘God loves you.’ You can buy little Bible books made out of fabric or cardboard. They can handle those and chew on them.”

Chew on the Bible?

Yes, it’s true. The publishing industry offers an amazing array of children’s Bibles these days. There are cloth baby Bibles with handles and movable characters, Bibles for toddlers, craft Bibles, adventure Bibles, recipe Bibles, bath Bibles, and stories inspired by the Bible, to name a few. And you don’t have to go to religious bookstores to find them. Mainstream bookstores and online booksellers feature hundreds of options.

Bibles for children aren’t a new trend in publishing. Religious primers for children existed as early as the 1830s, explains Cram. And in the 1920s, people became interested in how a 3-year-old’s thought process was different from that of a teenager, and children’s Bibles developed in the next decade, he says.

In the 1980s, children’s publishing expanded, explains Elizabeth Devereaux, children’s religion book review editor at Publishers Weekly. Affluent baby boomers were buying books to create home libraries. Concurrently, there was an increase in adult spirituality. Adult Bible sales were on the rise, and children’s publishers decided to jump on the opportunity. Devereaux says mainstream bookstores began carrying more religious titles. She adds that in the 1990s, the impending millennium also influenced an increasing spiritual awareness.

Devereaux says there’s no dominant trend in children’s religious titles right now — but rhyming and poetry Bibles, baby Bibles, special-purpose Bibles (such as for the bathtub) and learn-to-read Bibles (which focus on teaching phonics as the child learns about God) are all selling well.

When it’s not verbatim

So if a Bible is written in rhymes or with other variations, is it a true Bible? Is it bad to introduce a child to a Bible that is not verbatim to an adult version in chapter and verse? The experts offer mixed opinions.

Wendy Porter, a postulant for holy orders in the Episcopal Church and seminarian at the General Theological Seminary in New York, is disturbed by “Bibles” that aren’t true versions. “You take out so many of the things that make it Scripture, it is no longer holy text. It becomes a children’s story.”

Porter, who did her undergraduate work at Shorter College, says it’s great to share biblically based books with children but thinks it’s a misnomer to call those books a “Bible.”

Alison Schultz, director of Christian education at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Dunwoody, says she also doesn’t care for some videos that turn biblical characters into cartoons.

“I have a hard time with vegetables giving moral directives to kids. I don’t mind moral messages in videos, but it somehow says that we have to water this down.”

However, Cram and Garrison disagree. Marie Trujillo, director of religious education for 25 years at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Decatur, also says age-appropriate Bibles are fine.

“We pick and choose the Scripture we’re going to use with the little people. You’re trying to get things at their level — things that they do understand,” says Trujillo.

She says some folks have lovely Bibles sitting on the coffee tables but a child couldn’t lift them. “[It’s good when] they can bring this up to you just like they would a storybook.”

The Rev. Ceci Duke, associate rector at St. Michael and All Angels in Stone Mountain, doesn’t mind a child-friendly Bible but thinks parents need to change their children’s Bibles as they grow.

“You can go back to any story and find something new in the story,” she says. So as the child gets older, the parents should revisit the stories, maybe even using a different Bible, and offer more detail and insight.

Censor the Bible?

So are there certain stories that should be avoided or censored with children? Will children be upset that other than Noah’s family, the population of the planet died when God flooded the Earth? Or how about God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son? Will they worry they are next?

Garrison says kids definitely understand different parts of the Bible at different ages. When they’re little, she says, teach that God told Noah to build the ark and he did. Because Noah was obedient, God protected him.

“As they get older they may say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, something more happened.’ Then they can begin to hear how the other people failed to be obedient. Introduce more with every story.”

Cram says it is wise to postpone some stories until the children grow older.

“The child will raise questions at the time when they are ready for answers. You don’t have to tell them about the gory details. From [newborns] to age 5, help them to learn that God is trustworthy, that God loves us, and that God cares for us.”

Cram stresses that learning about the Bible can’t stop when you are a child.

“Many adults learned certain stories of the Bible very young. Then they stop — that’s all they have their whole life. [What they learned is] appropriate as a child, but is not going to be adequate for an adult.”

He says adults need to continue to educate themselves, and their understanding of God and the Bible will become more complex and mature with time.
Photo: Never too young: Meta Miller (right) and her daughter, Chanie Steinberg, read a Jewish storybook to Steinberg’s 9-month-old girl, Sophie, before bedtime./ RICH ADDICKS / Staff

Photo: Collection of children’s Bibles and Bible stories / JEAN SHIFRIN / Staff

Graphic: MORE TIPS

Alison Schultz, director of Christian education at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Dunwoody, recommends that parents ask themselves these questions when searching for a children’s Bible or religious book:

> What translations is the child’s church or school using? Is the Bible being paraphrased or translated accurately?

> What is the format of the Bible? Is it easy for your child to understand and navigate? For example, what size type is used and what is the spacing between the lines of text? Are there illustrations? Are the publishers using the traditional chapters and verse formatting? If not, is that important to you and your child?

> What is your reason for wanting the Bible? Is it for study, bedtime stories or a keepsake?

— Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

ON THE FRONT

“The Toddlers Bible” by V. Gilbert Beers, illustrated by Carole Boerke (Cook Communications Ministries, $15.99).

> Summary: Compact book with short text and an illustration on every page.

“The Growing Reader Phonics Bible” by Joy MacKenzie, illustrated by Jill Newton (Tyndale House Publishers, $18.99).

> Summary: More than 60 stories written in rhyme and infused with phonics. Intended for 3-year-olds to 8-year-olds.

“Lift the Flap Bible,” retold by Sally Lloyd Jones, illustrated by Tracey Moroney (Reader’s Digest Children’s Books, $9.99).

> Summary: Old and New Testament stories illustrated with movable flaps that reveal a different scene underneath.

“The Children’s Illustrated Bible,” retold by Selina Hastings, illustrated by Eric Thomas (DK Publishing, $22.95).

> Summary: A more serious approach, with longer stories and illustrations on each page. Includes maps and photographs.

“A First Book of Jewish Bible

Stories,” retold by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Julie Downing (DK Publishing, $14.95).

> Summary: A selection of popular Bible stories in an easy-to-follow form, with plenty of illustrations on each page.

Graphic: THE RIGHT CHOICE

Tips for parents on choosing children’s Bibles and religious books:

> Check with your religious leader or the religious education minister at your church for recommendations of books.

> Choose religious books that are on par with the types of books you normally purchase for your child. For example, if you generally buy beautifully illustrated books, then you should seek similar styles in Bibles.

> Choose books with strong visual storytelling. Children really respond to illustrations. That doesn’t mean you have to choose cartoony books. Many books offer beautiful realistic illustrations.

> Choose a Bible appropriate in size, material, content and readability. Ones with handles are nice for younger children. Also be aware of whether the child can lift the book and turn the pages.

> Take your children with you to shop. Sit on the floor of the store and let them look through different versions. See which ones they respond to the most.

> Don’t shy away from using appropriate music, computer disks and videos to help teach about the Bible. Children respond very well to music and moving images.

— Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

En route to their future
Graduates get pointers on finding the way to a life that counts

DATE: June 1, 2002
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Religion Faith & Values
PAGE: B1

Before the diplomas, family parties, smiles and photos, there was the commencement speech — that last lecture before thousands of graduates grasped at a new future.

The speakers’ job wasn’t an easy one. They knew they should be brief, funny and inspiring. But what values should be emphasized? Attitude? Compassion? Public service? Many times, speakers said there were “three things” we all should know — but unfortunately, there was no consensus on what they were.

We took a look at some of the college graduation speeches from around the state to see what life lessons the students were left with. Here are excerpts:

> School: Morehouse College

> Valedictorian: Harold Lee Martin Jr.

> Bio: Martin, the senior class president and valedictorian, is a business administration major from Winston-Salem, N.C. He will begin a career as a business analyst with McKinsey & Co. in Atlanta.

“Of course, the credit for our accomplishment is not solely our own, for we have made it this far not by ourselves, but with the indispensable help of our families. This day proves that, contrary to the media’s portrayal, the African-American family is still the most powerful in the nation. . . . Elevated by my Morehouse College education, things look much, much different. When I look at our communities, I see black males still going to prison, sitting on death row, and filling graveyards at much faster rates than we fill college classrooms. I see our young brothers still viewing the strength of their arms and the swiftness of their feet as the source of their salvation. I see the tears of mothers, crying for a generation of young black men. And I see evidence of the expansive poverty ravishing our communities. . . .

“With our diplomas comes a tremendous responsibility. One by one, we must remove the deceptive masks of hypocrisy.

“As we leave Morehouse today, the world may seek to take our innocence, rob us of our excitement, our hope, our dreams, and taint them with its pessimistic understanding of reality. But, brothers, I challenge you to be youthful, to be dreamers, to keep your heads to the sky, and remember that only through continued examples of black excellence can we hope to rise above the stereotypical positions to which society has attempted to consign us.”

> School: Georgia State University

> Speaker: John Hunt III

> Bio: Hunt, who lives in Tifton, represents the 2nd Congressional District on the state Board of Regents. He is the president of JH Services Inc. He is also the president of Hunt Advertising and Communications Inc. and treasurer of R-One Inc. in Tifton.

“Your experience up to this moment has been the foundation work for the structure you will raise.

“This structure — your personal and professional life — will only be as sound as the foundation that has been poured. But unlike a real house, individuals can’t just go back and dig up the foundations that form their personality. One of the key elements of any foundation is something else you can’t buy. It’s hard to teach, though I can tell you that the Board of Regents has discussed ways in which we might do so. It’s not a computer software package or a nice wardrobe. It’s an attribute — one that I think is central to anyone’s ability to be successful. It’s attitude. . . .

“So what is attitude?

“To me, it is the way someone approaches both people and situations.

“And it is an approach that signals to others that a person is ready and eager, not only to help contribute to a given situation, but also to learn from that event and from others.

“It’s the ability to see what can be and what should be in a situation.

“Attitude is about seeing the potential in others and in situations, even when on the surface they may not seem too attractive. Attitude also is a process of self-discovery. It is about finding your weaknesses, building a better you, doing that which does not come easily or naturally.

“A person with a great attitude doesn’t mind changing habits. Or admitting that they are wrong.

“Don’t spend your life avoiding your fears. Face them — and grow. Such determination is a hallmark of a good attitude.

“There will be situations in your life that won’t be fair. The deck will be stacked against you. It’s at this moment that your sense of attitude will help you make the right decision. It will give you confidence, and it will strengthen your integrity.

“With attitude — the right attitude — you have the foundation you need to be successful, regardless of where you go or what you do.”

> School: University of Georgia

> Speaker: U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm

> Bio: Gramm is a Republican senator from Texas. Born in Georgia, he graduated from the University of Georgia with an undergraduate degree in economics in 1965 and a doctorate in economics in 1967. He taught at Texas A&M University, was a congressman, and has been elected to three terms as a senator.

“I want to share sort of three secrets with you as pieces of advice and they’re very simple. And you can view them as trite or profound.

“The first is that today you’re among the educated elite of the world. Today your tools are very sharp. But when you wake up in the morning, your tools are going to be a little bit duller than they are today, and that process will continue every day for the rest of your life. Unless you begin a process of lifelong learning, you’re eventually going to become noncompetitive no matter how much you know today because the progress of knowledge moves on. . . .

“Secondly, I want to argue that character counts. When I was a boy, when I was a student at the University of Georgia, I admired people that were pretty. I admired people who had good social graces. I admired people who were athletes and, most importantly, I don’t even know if the term is still used, I admired people that were cool.

“And then as I moved on to graduate school and academics and life, I admired brilliant people. I admired brainpower. But I would have to say, about to turn 60 and looking back at my life, the indispensable ingredient in true success, in true achievement, is character. Because without character, coolness and brains simply don’t matter much. . . .

“In the end, success requires character, and in looking back and achieving the ultimate success — which is not having people say wonderful things about you — the ultimate success is being able to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m proud of what I did.’ Ultimately the cheer that matters the most is the one from yourself.”

> School: Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law in Macon

> Speaker: Griffin Bell

> Bio: Bell graduated from Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law in 1948. He served as a judge and as attorney general of the United States during the Carter administration. He is currently a senior partner at King & Spalding.

“We have an ample supply of lawyers in our country, and some of the lawyers overlook the obligation to serve others. They also distort the privilege of practicing law by converting it into a mere occupation. . . .

“In the administration of justice, you must abide by the rules and conform to the highest principles of professional rectitude, irrespective of the desires of the clients or others.

“To the public you owe the duty of making certain that the system of administering justice is fair and efficient, and you should do what you can to improve the system.

“Finally, to our country you owe the duty of leadership. You are in the class ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ ”

> School: Georgia Institute of Technology

> Speaker: Albert Thornton

> Bio: Thornton is the vice president of operations for Waffle House and president of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association.

“There are three things I want you to absolutely keep in mind as you move out of this coliseum and into the next world, whether it’s the job world or the graduate student world:

“First, never underestimate the value of your Georgia Tech education. It is, in a word, ‘immense,’ not just the education, but the discipline you acquired at America’s greatest institution of learning — about science, about business, about life. . . .

“No. 2 on the list of things I want you to remember is this: Keep a great attitude, always. (Guy in the front row said, ‘Holy smoke. What do we do now? He’s gonna preach to us.’) Nope, but what I’m about to tell you translates into big bucks.

“Listen carefully now, because if we all live to be 100, this is the most important thing I’ll ever tell you. Ready? Your attitude is the single most observed thing about you. More than your fancy car. More than your flashy clothes. More than your amazing good looks. Your attitude is the single most observed thing about you. In the workplace, people have only two things to sell — an attitude and a skill set. When you show up on your first day, you won’t have a great skill set, so you’d better have a great attitude. And, as you develop that great skill set, the attitude becomes even more important. Think about this. Think about the last crisis you went through. Six months after any crisis, no one remembers the crisis. Everyone remembers the attitude of the leader during the crisis. Your attitude is the single most observed thing about you.

“And last, I want you to keep Georgia Tech working for you by staying connected to Tech. Sometimes, we lose track of each other for a few years as you make the transition from school to starting careers and families. Be sure to leverage your Tech experience by staying connected to

Tech.”

> School: Kennesaw State University

> Speaker: Dan Papp

> Bio: Papp is senior vice chancellor for academics and fiscal affairs of the University System of Georgia.

“In my few remaining minutes with you today, I’d like to stress three things that you should concentrate on if you intend to succeed as human beings. And that, after all, is what an education should be all about. So let me begin with my three-entry version of what you need to do to succeed as a human being.

“First, acquire knowledge. That’s one reason — but, I stress, only one reason — why you went to college. Some experts estimate that the amount of scientific knowledge doubles every decade and predict that by 2015, all the knowledge known to humankind will double every 73 days. The same experts predict that in the first two decades of the 21st century, the average worker will change careers three times . . . and not always by choice. These are sobering numbers, so I stress, if you are going to succeed, you need to have knowledge, you need to know how to update that knowledge, and you need to know how to be able to employ that updated knowledge to be productive and to change. They call today ‘commencement’ for a reason. With your graduation you will not stop the quest to attain knowledge. Rather, in a very real sense, you have just begun that quest.

“The second component I believe that you need to succeed as a human being is sympathy. As a human being, or I should say if you are going to be a success as a human being, you must be sympathetic to the hopes, dreams, needs and fears of others. . . .

“Finally, you will also need understanding. Understand yourself and understand others. Don’t over-generalize, and don’t leap to conclusions on the basis of incomplete information. And make sure your information is accurate. Develop an understanding of people, situations and issues. Some might call this wisdom, and I wouldn’t argue with them. But regardless of whether you call it wisdom or understanding, don’t let the incredible quantity of data and information that we have at our disposal hide the fact that wisdom and understanding are what the human condition requires, at least if we are to be successful as human beings.”
Photo: Photo illustration of students throwing their caps into the air./ Staff

Photo: HAROLD LEE MARTIN JR., Morehouse College valedictorian

Photo: During the exercises, Regent John Hunt told graduates that attitude is the key to success.

Photo: Georgia State University students celebrate the finale of their undergraduate years. During the exercises, Regent John Hunt told graduates that attitude is the key to success./ Special

Photo: U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas)

 

 

Archived Article

Options: Search Results | New Search | Printer Friendly version

 

Shopping Destination: Helen
A breath of alpine air for frazzled urbanites

DATE: November 19, 1998
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: The Atlanta Journal Constitution
SECTION: Buyer’s Edge
PAGE: BE12
MEMO: Home

Crisp winter air, vistas of hibernating mountains and the echo of water rushing through gently sloped ravines relax and refresh shoppers as they stroll along Helen’s sidewalks. After a long day of exploring the more than 90 stores in the downtown district, weary shoppers also can find respite at warm German-style houses offering plenty of beer, wurst and strudel. Although some say the Bavarian-themed town about 90 minutes north of Atlanta is kitschy and commercial, there are many shoppers who tout the stores for their handmade wares and the town itself as a less hectic option for holiday shopping. Helen D. Fincher, until recently executive director of the Alpine Helen-White County Convention and Visitors Bureau, worked to position the town in the minds of Georgia residents as just that — a natural escape from mall and city stresses. “There’s none of the hustle and bustle of city shopping,” said Fincher. “Visitors can come up and spend the night or come up for a day trip. They can stop and stroll along the streets in a leisurely manner. They can enjoy a good meal in a quaint restaurant. Things like that make shopping much more fun.” Eric and Regina Linpinsel of Snellville discovered that years ago, without a marketing pitch. The Linpinsels visit the North Georgia mountains 10 to 12 times a year and make it a point to eat at Hofer’son North Main Street, and later they sit and soak up the village atmosphere. For Regina Linpinsel, it doesn’t have be close to Christmas for her to check gifts off her list. Her last purchase in Helen, made earlier this fall — a Goebel figurine of a sFincher says about 1.2 million visitors come to Helen each year. In 1997 alone, visitors spent $123 million while they were in the county. At one time the area was home to the Cherokee. In the 1830s, during the Trail of Tears, the tribes were forced from their land. Gold-rush settlers soon took over the area, mining the North Georgia mountains until the end of the century, when bigger strikes lured them west. The early 1900s brought lumberjacks and the railroad, and the resulting settlement was named Helen, after the daughter of a railroad surveyor. By the 1960s, there was nothing left of these industries except a dreary row of concrete block structures and a population that had dwindled to 100. It wasn’t until 1968 that artist John Kollock was approached by a Helen businessman about how to revitalize the town. Kollock, who had just been to Germany, suggested an Alpine theme and sketched out his vision. Local businessmen financed the venture, and renovations on several buildings were completed in 1969and 1970.

Now, stores carry goods ranging from T-shirts to blown glass, imported cuckoo clocks to original artwork.

Visitors can watch skilled carpenters create wooden stocking stuffers at Jolly’s Toys on North Main Street. Operating for 19 years in Helen, the shop offers moms and dads Old World toys that are timeless. Spinning tops, yo-yos and trains are a few of the classics that owner Jolly Nichols keeps in stock. Also known for its woodworking, Mathena’s Handmade Woodcrafts on River Street has collapsible trivet baskets cut from black walnut for less than $30. The store also makes decorative door harpsfor less than $50. Looking for a less expensive gift for your child’s teacher or a colleague? The store also carries wooden carved pens, perfume pens, compacts and toothpick holders, all for less than $20. If you’re searching for a more authentic Bavarian gift, go for the cuckoo clocks. The House of Tyrol offers cuckoo clocks in many sizes, colors and price ranges (about $175 to $1,000). Austrian lace place mats and napkins may give you an equally authentic option for less than $20. For the quintessential German collectible, there’s always the stein. Recently, Rife Hughey of Atlanta wandered into Kaiser Bill’s I on North Main Street, which carries hundreds of steins. Despite a skepticism about shopping in Helen, he seemed happy to find thedecorative mugs.

“I can buy a T-shirt, pair of shoes or fudge anywhere,” he said. “But these caught my eye because they are unique.”
Photo Helen2 map29.eps5YAN: On a roll: In a plaza near the House of Tyrol, Birdie McClaine of Helen entertains shoppers. / DWIGHT ROSS JR. / Staff

Photo: Browsing through shops in downtown Helen, we found . . . 16-piece wooden Nativity set. $43. Jolly’s Toys, North Main Street. 706-878-2262.

Photo: Two-liter beer stein with fox handle. $210. Kaiser Bill’s I, North Main Street. 706-878-2182.

Photo: Nutcracker cuckoo clock. $425. House of Tyrol, North Main Street. 706-878-2264.

Photo: Dutch tile tray. $68.95. Windmill Dutch Imports, Whitehorse Square. 706-878-3444.

Graphic: Shop talk

A listing of shops in downtown Helen, grouped by category: APPAREL

Das Ist Leather, North Main Street

Roper’s Clothing, South Main Street

Shoe Corner, North Main Street

ARTS AND CRAFTS

Alpen Rose Quilts & Gifts, Chattahoochee Street

Alpine Festival of Arts and Crafts, North Main Street

Spirit Mountain Arts and Crafts, South Main Street

CHRISTMAS SHOPS

Carol’s Christmas Shop, North Main Street

Holiday Haus, North Main Street

COLLECTIBLES

The Angel Shoppe, Chattahoochee Street

Bavarian Glass, North Main Street

Becky’s Small Wonders, North Main Street

Classic Elegance, North Main Street

The Curiosity Shop, North Main Street

Damron’s Glass, North Main Street

Fine Things, North Main Street

The Glass Blowing Shop, South Main Street

Holly House, North Main Street

House of Tyrol, North Main Street

Kaiser Bill’s I, North Main Street

Kaiser Bill’s II, North Main Street

Master Works, North Main Street

Mathena’s Handmade Woodcrafts, River Street

Richard’s Alpine Gifts, Chattahoochee Street

Scandinavian Imports, North Main Street

Sticks & Stones, North Main Street

Treasures-N-Trolls, North Main Street

Uptown Country Gifts, North Main Street

Wesson’s Alpine Collection North Main Street

Windmill Dutch Imports, Whitehorse Square

FOODS/WINES

Betty’s Country Store, Yonah Street

Chestnut Mountain Winery, North Main Street

The Gourmet Shoppe, North Main Street

Habersham Winery at Nacoochee, South Main Street

Helen Health House, River Street

Nora Mill, South Main Street

FURNITURE/HOME DECOR

Appalachian Design, North Main Street

GIFTS

Biggest Little Shop, Chattahoochee Street

Claws & Paws, South Main Street

Country Home, South Main Street

Gift World, North Main Street

Grammy’s Country Store, South Main Street

J & J Gifts, North Main Street

Johanna’s, Helen Square

Kennedy’s Irish Cottage, North Main Street

The Penoka Collection, North Main Street

Wildewood Shop, River Street

The Wooden Shoe, South Main Street

OUTLETS

Alpine Village Factory Outlets, South Main Street

SPECIALTY

Alpine Music, South Main Street

Alpine Tattoo Co., Schloss Weg

Collector’s Gallery, South Main Street

Fantasy Lane, North Main Street

Helen Jewelers, North Main Street

Jolly’s Toys, North Main Street

Kandlestix, North Main Street

Mountain Floral Shop, North Main Street

Music Box Plus, North Main Street

Old Tyme Portraits, Chattahoochee Street

1890 Photo, North Main Street

The Rock Yard, South Main Street

Rocks to Riches, North Main Street

World’s Largest Gallery of Afghans, South Main Street

T-SHIRTS/SOUVENIRS

Alpine Actionwear & Gifts, North Main Street

Alpine Fantasy, North Main Street

Alpine T-Shirt Factory, River Street

Bavaria Haus of Gifts, North Main Street

Heart of Helen, North Main Street

Hi-Ho Silver, North Main Street

Spinning Wheel, North Main Street

Tip Top Tees, North Main Street

Graphic: Beyond shopping

After hacking away all day at your long list of Christmas must-haves, you can stay into the evening to enjoy Helen’s holiday festivities.

Helen kicks off its celebrations at 6 p.m. Nov. 27 with the Lighting of the Village. Beginning in the Helen Band Shell, music and costumed characters will welcome Santa to the village. After the show, the

Alpenlights — Bavarian scenes created with colored Christmas lights

— will be turned on all over town.

On Nov. 28, the Alpenstroll, a two-to-three-hour 10K self-guided walk through Helen, will offer close-up views of the Alpenlights.

Registration begins at 4:30 p.m.

On Dec. 5 and 6, the 15th annual Foothills Guild of Arts and Crafts invites guests to visit the homes and studios of North Georgia’s most popular artists and crafters. It’s a free self-guided driving tour around Helen, with maps available at the welcome center. The tour is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 1-800-858-8027 for information on all these events.

Nearby events include Babyland General Hospital’s 19th annual

Appalachian Christmas, which will be Saturday in Cleveland (706-865-2171 for schedule) and Unicoi State Park and Lodge’s Christmas program Dec.

12 (706-878-3982 for more information).

Graphic: IF YOU GO

GETTING THERE: From I-85 north, take I-985 north. When you get to

Gainesville, I-985 turns into Ga. 365. Proceed 42 miles. Turn left onto

Ga. 384. Go 16 miles, then turn right onto Ga. 75 and drive three miles into town. (Ga. 75 is called Main Street in Helen.)

HOURS: Most stores are open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and noon-6 p.m. Sundays.

PARKING: Free parking is available in municipal lots. Handicapped parking is located off Main Street between Dye and Spring streets. There are two lots off Chattahoochee Street and Edelweisstrasse and another lot off White Street. Visitors also can park at the Alpine Helen-White

County Convention and Visitors Bureau Welcome Center on Bruckenstrasse, behind City Hall on Chattahoochee Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays,

Saturdays and Sundays, and trolleys will transport them downtown.

ACCESSIBILITY: Most of the ground-level stores are handicapped-accessible. There are sidewalks to make getting around easier. However, many stores and restaurants are on second levels and below ground level and difficult for shoppers in wheelchairs to enter.

RESTROOMS: Public restrooms are located at the Alpine Helen-White

County Convention & Visitors Bureau Welcome Center on Bruckenstrasse.

PHONE: Alpine Helen-White County Convention and Visitors Bureau,

1-800-858-8027.

Graphic: WHERE TO EAT

Hofer’s Konditorei: Specializes in wursts, kraut, German beer and strudel. Prices range from $5 to $12. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays starting in December. 8758 N. Main St. 706-878-8200.

Betty’s Country Store: Inexpensive sandwiches and soups, plus homemade muffins and cookies. Prices range from $2 to $7. 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. 18

Yonah St. 706-878-2943.

Chattahoochee Barbecue: This eatery overlooking the Chattahoochee offers pork, beef, turkey, chicken, plus trout and baby back ribs.

Prices run from $3.45 for a half-pound sandwich to $15.95 for a full rack of ribs. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. 369 Edelweisstrasse.

706-878-1952.

Bernie’s at Nacoochee Valley Guest House: Beef Wellington, roast duckling and fresh seafood are among the entrees; reservations are recommended, especially for dinner. Lunch prices run $4.95 to $8.95; dinner ranges from $12.95 to $18.95. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 6-8:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. 2220 Ga. 17. 706-878-3830.

Graphic: WHERE TO STAY

Best Western: Rooms run $39.50 weekdays to $49.50 Fridays and

Saturdays. South Main Street. 706-878-2111

Chattahoochee River Front Motel: Rooms run $50 to $125 a night. Some suites have fireplaces or Jacuzzis. North Main Street. 706-878-2184.

Hampton Inn: Opening in December; rooms will run about $75; honeymoon suites, $100; three-room suites, $150. 147 Unicoi St. 706-878-3310

Map: Map of downtown Helen. / MICHELLE MACK / Staff

Map: Map of roads around Helen. Inset map shows how to get from Atlanta to the area shown on the map. / MICHELLE MACK / Staff

 

Archived Article

Options: Search Results | New Search | Printer Friendly version

 

SHOPPING DESTINATION: Historic Roswell
Antiques, art draw modern-day shoppers to old mill town

DATE: October 22, 1998
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: The Atlanta Journal Constitution
SECTION: Buyer’s Edge
PAGE: BE12
MEMO: Home

Men working at the Roswell Mill on Vickery Creek in the 1830s could count on two things in life: They would live in apartments built by their boss, Roswell King, and they would shop at his general store. Their wives would crowd into the store to redeem scrip for flour, coffee and fabric. If they saved up, they could get something nice for the house. Today, the tradition of shopping continues in the antebellum town of Roswell, but visitors aren’t locked into one general store, and they’ll need more than scrip to leave town with the multitude of locally produced goods. More than 60 stores fill the two main shopping districts in Roswell, located in north Fulton County off Ga. 400. The 640-acre Historic Roswell District stretches from the Chattahoochee River to Woodstock Road and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Historic Town Square, which was developed in the 1840s and became the site of the third store built for the millworkers, is the first area shoppers will hit heading up Atlanta St.. It contains more than 10 stores, plus the Historic Roswell Convention and Visitors Bureau. The second area, the Heart of Roswell, is a couple of miles farther north and contains more than 50 stores. Visitors also will find shops sprinkled in between these two areas.

During the Civil War, the Roswell Mill, which was one of the largest suppliers of cloth, yarn and rope to the Confederacy, became a prime target for Gen. Sherman and his Union troops. When they arrived in town in July 1864, the forces destroyed the mill. However, they spared most of the houses in the area. One of the homes that survived was Bulloch Hall, a white-columned Greek Revival, one of the first six houses built in Roswell. It served as the residence of Mittie Bulloch, mother of President Theodore Roosevelt.

There is a quiet sense of history as you walk around the fountain in the center of the Historic Town Square. Each side of the fountain and the surrounding square is dedicated to one of the town’s founders. Although the square sometimes is empty and quiet, the quaintness can be shattered by modern reality as traffic whizzes by along Atlanta Street. “The historic component is vital to Roswell,” says Dotty Etris, executive director of the Historic Roswell Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It givesus an identity.”

Appropriately, antiques and art of all kinds are the mainstay of Historic Roswell stores. Items run the gamut from sterling silverware sets of your grandmother’s era to hand-painted pine armoires to brass and pewter candlesticks. Artwork ranges from warm-toned oils with a Southwestern look to copies of old masters. Feminine florals hand-painted on china, ceramic bowls and pitchers and decorative wall hangings also are abundant in town.

A quilt shop, Calico Quilter, and thread store, Cast-On Cottage, carry on the mill tradition. At Calico Quilter, bins line the walls from top to bottom displaying intricate fabric designs divided by color family. Jewelry and clothing stores are sprinkled throughout the areas, but shop owners focus more on handicrafts, housewares and typical Southern fare, such as jams and jellies.

Traditions on Atlanta St. carries hand-painted china cabinets and oversized chintz floral and striped couches. The Chandlery on Canton St. offers a bridal registry for its hand-painted dishes, fine French linens and picture frames. And Tisket A Tasket on Canton St. carries a fantastic array of hats and accessories.

Don’t miss the Moss Blacksmith Shop, well worth a walk up Canton St.. Owner Ken Moss, a seventh-generation Georgian, can make any metal item you can imagine and draw. He has fireplace equipment on hand, but needs 30 to 90 days to craft you an iron bed, chandelier or mailbox. Prices on the beds start at $500, chandeliers $1,500, mailboxes $250. Owner David Schubert of Go With the Flow Sports says his two-story establishment provides refuge for bored shoppers — often husbands. Filled with bright primary-colored canoes, kayaks, skateboards and outdoor clothes, it is a nice change of pace.

“This is the guy place,” says Schubert. “The dads and kids will come in, and it plants a seed for the next time.”

The well-stocked, colorful Hobbit Hall Children’s Bookstore on Bulloch Avenue is another entertaining stop. It offers a wide variety of educational and entertaining books, crafts and puzzles, and is hands-on kid-friendly.

Heather Danziger of Woodstock knows the store well and sought it out when she moved to the area three years ago. After lunch at the Tea Room, 18-month old Hanna was ready to drag her mother and grandmother, who was visiting from Pittsburgh, all around the colorful store.

“I love this bookstore because it’s very child-oriented, very personal and very helpful,” says Danziger. “They are very focused on child development.” For Ellen Schnurr of Marietta, it was a visting sister and mother who spurred her to try shopping in Roswell.

“We already did the mall scene, and we just wanted to see what they had,” Schnurr said. “We like the thrill of the hunt.”

If you go

GETTING THERE: From I-285, take Ga. 400 north to Exit 6 (Northridge Road). Bear right off the exit crossing over 400. Take a hard right onto Dunwoody Place. Turn right onto Roswell Road and cross the Chatahoochee River. (Roswell Road turns into Atlanta St..) One mile down is the Historic Town Square. If you continue on Atlanta St. and bear left onto Canton St., you will be in the Heart of Roswell. HOURS: Most businesses are open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesdays–Saturdays. Few stores are open Mondays be found off Mill St. and Sloan St.. Parking lots for the Heart of Roswell can be found on Canton St. after Webb St.. ACCESSIBILITY: Most stores are wheelchair-accessible. All the shopping areas have sidewalks. RESTROOMS: Located in the Historic Roswell Convention and Visitors Bureau. PHONE: 770-640-3253 or 800-776-7935 (Historic Roswell Convention and Visitors Bureau).

Where to eat

THE TEA ROOM. On Canton St. amid all the action, this is the ladies’ lunchtime mecca. Come at 11 a.m. or after 2 p.m. to avoid a 15-to-20-minute wait. But once you’re in, the lobster bisque and shrimp salad make it worth your while. High tea is served every afternoon (3 p.m.). Lunch: $6 to $8. 952 Canton St. 770-594-8822. THE PUBLIC HOUSE. A general store for the Roswell Mill in the 1850s, the Public House has preserved parts of that decor, maintaining exposed brick walls and beams. On the Historic Town Square, it is an upscale establishment owned by Peasant Restaurants serving crab cakes, lamb, duck and more. Lunch: $12; dinner: $25. 605 Atlanta St. 770-992-4646. SLOPE’S BBQ. After almost 10 years in Roswell, the family atmosphere and bargain barbecue are as popular as ever. Slope’s offers a wide variety of wood-smoked meats, including chicken on the bone, chopped chicken, St. Louis-style ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. Lunch: $5.50; dinner also available. 10360 Alpharetta St. 770-518-7000. SOUTHERN SKILLET. For 18 years this restaurant has dished out classic Southern food. The home-style food is served in a relaxed, rustic atmosphere that is child-friendly. Breakfast all day. Lunch and dinner: $6. 1037 Alpharetta St. 770-993-7700.

Beyond shopping

Down the road from Roswell’s shopping district is the Chattahoochee Nature Center. With 127 acres along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, this environmental sanctuary offers guided canoe floats; raptor, reptile and bald eagle exhibits; guided nature walks; a look at animal rehabilitation; and woodland and wetland trails. The Nature Center is located at 9135 Willeo Road. Hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and noon–5 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $3 for adults, $2 for children. Call 770-998-0680 for more information.
Photo: The heart of antebellum Roswell offers a wide array of shops. Art and antiques figure largely in the eclectic mix./ WILLIAM BERRY / Staff

Photo: “Miss Liberty” gourd sculpture. $260, American Sampler, 959 Canton St., 770-993-1843.

Photo: Friendship ball. $11.50, The Chandlery. 950 Canton St., 770-993-5962.

Photo: Dillon’s peanut brittle, 9 ounces. $4, Fiddle-dee-dee, 944 Canton St., Suite C. 678-461-0506.

Photo: Tiffany pig. $285, Artistic Glass of Atlanta. 942 Alpharetta St. 770-992-2900.

Photo: Hand-painted corner cabinet. $3,289, Traditions. 599 S. Atlanta St. 770-552-7388.

Photo: Orange fish ceramic platter. $114, Avanyu Gallery. 43 Park Square. 770-587-3660.

Map: Maps of Roswell shopping areas in the Heart of Roswell and the Town

Square. Maps highlight stores where the above items were purchased. Maps by MICHELLE MACK / Staff

Graphic: Shop talk: A complete list of shops in Roswell’s town square and the Heart of

Roswell, grouped by category: COLLECTIBLES, GIFTS AND ACCESSORIES

Adrianna’s Attic, Canton St.

Alford Antiques, Webb St.

American Sampler, Canton St.

Board of Trade, Alpharetta St.

The Chandlery, Canton St.

The Corner Collection, Canton St.

CottonBlosom, Canton St.

Cynthia Aiken Interior Design, Fur and Accessories, Mimosa Blvd.

Fiddle-dee-dee, Canton St. (upstairs)

Grand Harbour Import Co., Alpharetta St.

King Galleries, Atlanta St.

Moss Blacksmith Shop, Canton St.

Mulberry House Antiques, Canton St.

Roswell Antique Gallery, Crabapple Rd.

Roswell Clock & Antique Co., Canton St.

Sowers Pewter, Crystal & Gifts, Canton St.

Traditions, S. Atlanta St.

Victorian Dreams, Canton St.

Weems & Assoc., Antiques and Restoration, Atlanta St.

The Willow Place, Atlanta St.

HOME DESIGN AND FURNISHINGS

Affordable Floors, Alpharetta St.

Calico Quilter, Elizabeth Way

Cast-On Cottage, Canton St.

Decorating Den Interiors, Webb St.

Design Fabrique, Sloan St.

Downtown Roswell Interiors, Magnolia St.

Fabulous Fabrics, Canton St.

Roswell Rug Co., Alpharetta St.

ART GALLERIES

Amir Gallery, Park Square

Ann Jackson Gallery, Canton St.

Avanyu Gallery, Park Square

The Dutch Palette Studio

Fired Works, Atlanta St.

Gallery V. Ltd., Elizabeth Way

Heaven Blue Rose Gallery, Canton St.

The Lamplighter, Atlanta St.

The Potters Guild, Atlanta St.

Raiford Gallery, Canton St.

SPECIALTY SHOPS

A Tisket A Tasket, Canton St.

Artistic Glass of Atlanta, Alpharetta St.

Emile Baran Music, Alpharetta St.

Go With the Flow Sports, Elizabeth Way

Hamilton Flowers, Canton St.

Hobbit Hall Children’s Bookstore, Bulloch Ave.

Hollingsworth Books, Alpharetta St.

Impressions by Suzanne, Atlanta St.

Kiddie-Go-Round Boutique, Atlanta St.

Lotsa Cotton, Canton St.

Peachtree Quality Salvage, Canton St.

ReRuns Fashion Boutique, Canton St.

Sunglo Metaphysical Bookstore, Alpharetta St.

Trade Winds, Park Square

Map: Map of Metro Atlanta locates Roswell / MICHELLE MACK / Staff

Photo: Orange fish ceramic platter. (Teaser)

 

 

 

Archived Article

Options: Search Results | New Search | Printer Friendly version

 

ALL ABOUT BUBBLY
Here’s a primer on festive sparkler: Dry, sweet, French or domestic, the effervescence is sip-ly irresistible

DATE: December 24, 1998
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: The Atlanta Journal Constitution
SECTION: Buyer’s Edge
PAGE: BE1
MEMO: Home

Poised to pop the obligatory New Year’s Eve champagne, you catch the snide remark: “Who’s ever heard of that brand?” That comment — uttered sotto voce by a somewhat ungracious guest — might just ring in your ears for years to come if the sparkling wine you purchased was indeed a dud. So how do you go about selecting a sparkling wine that will please your guests without busting your budget? The decision can be complicated, but with some basic facts about how sparkling wine is made, a few tips to determine quality and some taste-testing of your own, you’ll be primed for the purchase.

Prices of sparkling wines are influenced by many factors — among them the way in which it was created (the more time-consuming French method, for example, will cost more than a bulk process) and whether the wine carries an import tax. So, no, you don’t have to choose the most expensive brand to ring in the new year with style. It is possible to find enjoyable sparkling wines in various price ranges.

Champagne vs. sparkling wine

First, some basics: Every champagne is a sparkling wine (wine with carbonation), but every sparkling wine is not a champagne. The term champagne is protected by French law and is only supposed to be applied if two requirements are met: The grapes must be cultivated in the Champagne region of France, about 90 miles northeast of Paris, and the methode champenoise must be used to prepare the wine, explains Jim Sanders, owner of Sanders Wines of Atlanta and a wine shop proprietor for 38 years.

Despite the requirements, however, some makers in other areas do label their product champagne, but with a qualifier. “The U.S. government before Prohibition gave up the right to use the term cognac, and we call it brandy. But we would not give up the right to champagne, as long as the origin appeared before it,” said Gary Heck, president and chairman of Korbel California Champagne Cellars, a 120-year-old company that produces champagne in Sonoma County.

It can take more than five years to create a bottle of champagne using the official French method. Although the method is complicated, the most important distinction is that the sugar-eating yeast creates the carbon dioxide inside the bottle it will eventually be served in, says Sanders. After the yeast has eaten all the sugar, it dies in the bottle and must be removed. A delicate process of rotating and tilting the bottles by hand forces the yeast residue into the neck. The winemaker then usesthe carbonation inside the bottle to shoot the dead yeast out.

Two faster methods

Two other methods of making sparkling wines are the charmat and the transfer methods, explains Heck. Using the charmat — or bulk — process, the wine is fermented in a large tank. It usually takes 30 to 60 days to create the final product. The transfer method, which takes three to four months, ferments the sparkling wine in the bottle; the wine is then removed to filter out the yeast and rebottled. Read the label closely to determine the method used: a label reading “Fermented in This Bottle”signals methode champenoise, but “Fermented in the Bottle” refers to the transfer method.

Dry or sweet?

How sweet the sparkling wine is depends on the dosage — or how much wine and sugar syrup mix has been added to balance the acidity of the grapes to achieve whatever style the winemaker wants to achieve. Hans van der Reijden, director of food and beverage at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, says those who want a dry wine should look for the word “brut” on the label.

However, don’t feel bad if you prefer a sweet sparkling wine. Heck says that some people really like “that heavy, yeasty-style” champagne of France, while others do not. So what’s the best way to find a sparkling wine you’ll enjoy? Experiment, and don’t be afraid of brands you’ve never heard of. Find a wine shop proprietor you trust, and try different styles to figure out what suits your palate.
Photo: A glass of champagne / RICH ADDICKS / Staff

 

 

Archived Article

Options: Search Results | New Search | Printer Friendly version

 

News for Kids
GO Speedracer GO
Once a small-town beach race, NASCAR rivals top sports in popularity

DATE: February 22, 1999
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: Constitution
SECTION: Features
PAGE: C6
MEMO: Home

Pushing 190 mph rounding the 2.5-mile track in Daytona Beach, Fla., Jeff Gordon had more to worry about than bugs smacking his windshield. “The Kid,” a three-time season champ at just 27, had 10 laps to go in the premier NASCAR race and “The Master,” Dale Earnhardt, was hot on his trail. Earnhardt wasn’t just tailing Gordon — he was bumping and pushing and diving low on the track to force his way past. Gordon let off the gas to force Earnhardt to slow. Then he kicked into high gear, speeding ahead to win the $2.1 million prize and his second victory at the Daytona 500.

That kind of action has made stock-car racing one of the top sports in America. In Atlanta, more than 197,650 households watched the Daytona 500 on TV.

Stock cars are powerful versions of street cars. In 1947, gas station owner Bill France Sr. convinced businesses in the Daytona Beach area to organize races. Named the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing — NASCAR — one year later, the racing spread to small tracks around the South.

In the 1990s, the sport has picked up steam. Races have moved to larger tracks. TV broadcasts many of the contests. Sponsors (companies that pay for ads on the cars) have flocked to the teams. Some include M&Ms, Cheerios and even the Cartoon Network.

NASCAR’s top drivers compete from February to November. Races are held on most weekends and are 400 to 600 miles long. Often drivers will circle the tracks 200 times during a race.

Drivers win money for individual races, and they compete for points to be champion for the season. The winner gets 175 points, second place 170 and on down to the 45th finisher who gets 28 points. Also, drivers can earn five bonus points for leading at least one lap during a race, and five more for leading the most laps.

— AJC news services and David Davidson contributed to this report.
Photo: Neck and neck: Jeff Gordon (24), Rusty Wallace (2), and Mike Skinner (31), race during the Daytona 500 Feb. 14. Gordon went on to win. / TERRY RENNA / Associated Press

Graphic: IF YOU GO

Check out NASCAR for yourself March 14 at the Atlanta Motor

Speedway. The Cracker Barrel 500 is $15 to $45. Call 770-946-4211.

 

SPECIAL CRUISE SECTION: For novices, three ways to go, whatever your comfort level
DATE: February 13, 2005
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Travel
PAGE: K4

For first-time cruisers, when and how to book a trip is almost as big a decision as where to go.

Now is the “when” to book: Through March is the busiest time to book, and 30 percent to 50 percent of the cabins are reserved in the first quarter of the year.

Cruise experts say you’ll find the cheapest rates and best cabins if you book early — some say four to six months in advance; others advise two to nine months, with at least nine months ahead for New Year’s and Christmas, and up to 18 months ahead for the best and worst (cheapest) cabins, which tend to go first. For Thanksgiving and school vacations, it’s six to 12 months.

Don’t panic about prices dropping after you’ve booked. In the 2005 cruise climate, the price is unlikely to drop. But if it does, a good travel agent will track your fare and most of the time be able to adjust your charges accordingly or give you an upgrade. Some online sites also will adjust the fare, but you’ll have to call them with the change.

Here are the pros and cons of how to book a cruise:

Using a travel agent

With so much information out there, a good travel agent can help you focus in a short time on a few lines or a few ships or a few destinations that would best match your needs. The agent I called immediately started asking questions and within five minutes focused on the cruise lines I felt we would be interested in.

Aimee J. Ricca, owner of Bonne Amie Travel in Rockport, Maine, and one of the experts featured on the Travel Channel’s Vacation Challenge, says that most Internet travel sites are actually travel agencies — that just make you do all the work.

Here are some other reasons:

  • 90 percent of all cruises are booked through agents. Many readers suggested the same thing: “Use a professional travel agent.”
  • You do not get charged any more to use an agent than if you booked through the line directly. “The cruise lines pay them; it’s not money out of your pocket,” says Bob Sharak, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Cruise Lines International Association.
  • A good agent should give you unbiased advice. We had already tentatively settled on a port and ship because we wanted to drive to the port to save money. When we told the agent our plan, she said she could not recommend it. She didn’t feel it would give us the experience we were seeking. I don’t think the cruise line would have told us that.
  • Many agents are certified through Cruise Lines International Association and the Travel Institute. They take tests to become accredited, and many are avid cruisers.
  • With an agent, you have someone to blame and/or someone to go to bat for you if something goes wrong. “As a travel agent, I have more clout,” Ricca says. She explains that she has a representative with each cruise line and books volumes of cruises each year — they have more reason to keep her and her clients happy.

Booking online

Brad Jones, director of cruise, tour and destination services for Orbitz, says that booking online is all about convenience and information.

“We’ve taken all the information that used to be for travel agents’ eyes only, taken all that information that used to be a mystery to people, and made it accessible and easy to navigate.”

He says getting people to feel comfortable booking cruises online is a progression — first people got used to ordering flowers online, then they got familiar with booking flights or paying a bill. He says next they’ll be comfortable with booking a more expensive trip, such as a cruise. Many people already are.

  • Online travel sites are generally open 24/7. We researched our cruises at 10 at night after the kids were finally in bed.
  • Online sites offer powerful research tools, such as photos of the interiors of ships, deck diagrams, passenger reviews, professional reviews and matrixes to compare itineraries side by side. However, be wary of how old some ship information might be. One site made multiple references to changes coming to ships in 2003.
  • Using the online services, I could see how prices changed week to week. We had some leeway as to travel time, and after seeing those price variations ($200 in some cases), we chose the cheapest week.
  • You may stumble across lines, boats and destinations you didn’t know existed.
  • Online sites offer the ability to research each line without getting entered into the line’s data banks — so no phone calls or e-mail.
  • Many online sites offer round-the-clock operators to take your questions. Orbitz says its cruise specialists have sold cruises for at least three years and have toured ships or cruised themselves. You can ask for the same person.
  • Since big discounts aren’t being given, some online services are sweetening their deals, offering triple reward points on your credit card, money for your ship credit card or gift cards to retailers such as Target.
  • I was worried that if I booked online, I wouldn’t get to pick the exact cabin I wanted or choose my dining time. When I explored deeper into the site, I did find that it gave me those options and even asked if we were celebrating a birthday or anniversary. It also gave multiple chances to back out if you decided this wasn’t the cruise you wanted.

Through a cruise line

  • If you know which line you want to take, the cruise line should be able to answer all your questions in detail.
  • The cruise line is going to offer the same price as agents. However, they are not going to tell you about other lines that match your needs.
  • If you register on many of the cruise sites for information, the lines will contact you often. We received weekly phone calls and e-mail from one cruise line for months.
  • Once you’ve talked with a travel agent, the cruise lines do not want to cannibalize that relationship. When I called to compare prices, the line told me to book through my agent.

 

Outdoor Adventure / SPECIAL SECTION: RESOURCES
DATE: August 29, 2004
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Travel
PAGE: K10

Whether you want to swim with sharks (www.sharkdiver.com), explore Portugal by bicycle (www.easyridertours.com) or take a culinary tour of Asia (gorp.away.com), the active traveler will find plenty of online resources to plan and book adventures. Adventure travel includes activities like hiking, camping and diving. It also can include wildlife safaris, culinary and cultural tours.

Some 140 million Americans took an outdoor or adventure trip in 2003, according to an Outdoor Recreation Participation Study conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association. Strong activities, according to the survey, are bicycling, camping, canoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, kayaking, rafting, snowshoeing, telemark skiing and trail running.

Web sites

While there are many Web sites for specific activities, we have gathered some of the best general interest sites to get you started.

> About.com: This site offers articles and resources on how to get started, travel essentials, possible destinations, buyer’s guide for equipment, safety and many other topics. Also includes travel agents, tours and discounts aimed at the active traveler. adventuretravel.about.com.

> Adventuretravel.com: Search packages broken down into four categories: cruise, family, romantic and eco-travel. Quick hit descriptions include type of trip, cost of trip, itineraries and dates available. Price quotes and expert advice are available online and by phone. Site also features travel, weather and health advisories, exchange rates and time zones. The site is run by Adtrav Corp., an Alabama travel agency with more than 25 years of experience. 1-866-233-2053, http://www.adventuretravel.com.

> Adventure Travel Society: Aimed more at travel professionals, this site is still a worthwhile stop while planning your vacation. The site asks you to search your soul about such questions as: How independent do you wish to be on your trip, what luxuries are you willing to be without, what physical limitations do you have and how much danger are you seeking? It offers resources such as packing lists, visa, money and health site referrals. 719-530-0171, http://www.adventuretravelbusiness.com.

> Adventuretraveltips.com: Companies post their trips on this site. It features more than 2,800 possible adventures ranging from animal treks and expeditions to motorcycle tours and women-only trips. http://www.adventuretraveltips.com.

> Away.com: This neatly organized site offers inspiration for planning your trip. It includes top 10 lists of places to visit, activities to try and adventures to explore. Download catalogs to your desktop or check out deals online. Site is part of the Away Network, which features the resources of GORP and Outdoor Magazine. http://www.away.com.

> Ecotravel.com: This site offers a searchable database of eco-tour operators, lodges, private guides and nonprofit organizations. For each company, the database provides the basic information, such as contact, types of trips, target age group, size of groups and type of accommodations. It also offers each company’s eco-philosophy and what it does to preserve the environment. http://www.ecotravel.com.

> GORP: The site combines the resources of GORP, Outside Magazine and Away.com to create an outdoor encyclopedia. Learn about destinations, activities and gear. The site’s specialty is comprehensive national park info and recommendations, as well as a focus on hiking and camping. gorp.away.com.

> iEXPLORE in association with National Geographic: Search this site by region, country, activity and departure time. Founded in 1999, the site offers more than 1,000 adventure and experiential (such as culinary) choices. National Geographic was an early investor and supporter of the company. 1-800-439-7567, http://www.iexplore.com.

> Mountain Travel Sobek: Founded in 1969, Mountain Travel (later merged with Sobek) has promoted the exploration of mountain wildernesses for more than 30 years. This California company’s site will help you plan and book a trip, such as trekking in the Himalayas, hiking the Alps or exploring the Galapagos Islands. You also can talk to an agent for help. 1-888-687-6235, http://www.mtsobek.com.

> REI Adventures: Known even by the unadventurous as an outdoor equipment provider, REI also can help you plan your trip. REI offers adventures for all skill levels, experienced local guides and authentic lodging. You can search the site by region, activity or date. Even those leery of booking online will be comforted by the sheer volume of details this site offers about each trip, including a gear list and explanation of expected weather. Also receive REI trip discounts with membership. 1-800-622-2236, http://www.rei.com/adventures.

Books

A few comprehensive adventure travel guides are on the market; however, most guides focus on an individual country or activity. Here are some recommended adventure-focused books. But keep in mind that book information can become outdated quickly, and the Web is best for up-to-date adventure itineraries.

> “National Geographic Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook” by Paul McMenamin (National Geographic, $20.40). Even though this guidebook was published in 2000, Jerry Mallett, president of the Adventure Travel Society, says it’s very good and still worth having. You can find it new and used online. The author is a seasoned traveler who breaks his adventures into 25 categories. He profiles top outfitters and guides, tells you how to get started in a sport like kayaking, and provides resources and maps to begin your adventure.

> The Sierra Club: The Sierra Club offers adventure guidebooks for locales ranging from North Africa to the Chesapeake Bay. Check out its site for tomes about nature, countries and wildlife. Mallett likes this series as well. http://www.sierraclub.org/books.

> “Camping & Wilderness Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book” by Paul Tawrell (Falcon Distribution, $16.97). With illustrations and text, this book will teach you how to make camp, choose equipment and find water, shelter and food. It also teaches map and compass skills.

> “Wilderness 911: A Step-by-Step Guide for Medical Emergencies and Improvised Care in the Backcountry” by Eric A. Weiss (Mountaineers Books, $11.87). Straightforward step-by-step instructions teach basic first-aid and more advanced wilderness medicine. It tells adventurers how to improvise if they don’t have the proper supplies. This book is rated highly online by police and emergency medical professionals.

> “John Shaw’s Nature Photography Field Guide” by John Shaw (Watson-Guptill Publications, $24.95). An updated best seller, this book offers specific advice for selecting equipment, composing shots, getting close-ups and other techniques.

> “Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die” by Chris Santella (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95). The book is a global tour of where to land your big one. It visits the Seychelles Islands, the rivers Dee and Tay in Scotland and Cairns, Australia.