- Dine with Characters. Several of the character meals are located outside the theme parks. Try Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary (breakfast and dinner), ‘Ohana at the Polynesian (breakfast), Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club (breakfast), or 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian (breakfast and dinner).
- Play miniature golf. There are two courses on site, Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens, accessible via Disney’s free transportation system.
- Take in a movie at AMC’s 24 theater complex at Downtown Disney.
- Visit the horses and watch the blacksmith at Fort Wilderness.
- Watch an outdoor movie at your resort.
- Attend the free Chip & Dale Campfire Singalong at Fort Wilderness.
- Go parasailing or waterskiing at the Contemporary.
- Hang out at the Downtown Disney Lego Store. Kids can play for hours in their open block area.
- Visit the Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs or the Grand Floridian.
- Rent a Bike and explore the resorts.
- Go for a run. Many of the Disney resorts have lovely jogging trails nearby. Inquire at your hotel’s concierge desk.
- Go fishing. For bass tours, visit disneyworldfishing.com. Pole rentals are available at Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans.
- Play golf. Disney’s Palm, Magnolia, and Lake Buena Vista links are standard 18-hole courses. Oak Trail is a nine-hole course perfect for beginners. Call 407-WDW-GOLF for more information.
- Rent a canoe. Stop by the Fort Wilderness bike barn for hourly rentals.
- See Disney World from the air on the Characters in Flight tethered balloon ride.
- Take a spin in a stock car at the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
- Volunteer at Give Kids the World. This wonderful organization provides cost-free vacations for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It an awe-inspiring place.
- Take a tour of Fort Wilderness on horseback.
- Send the kids on a pirate adventure. Boat trips for children depart from the Yacht Club, Port Orleans Riverside, Caribbean Beach Resort, and the Grand Floridian. Call 407-WDW-PLAY for more information.
- Play tennis. Courts are available at Saratoga Springs, Yacht Club, Fort Wilderness, Contemporary, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk, and Old Key West.
- Conquer the Kitchen Sink.
- Ride the monorail. All the Walt Disney World transportation is free.
- Discover DisneyQuest.
- Check out the animals at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Evening visitors can borrow night vision goggles to view the savannah.
- Take a horse-drawn carriage ride at Fort Wilderness or Port Orleans.
- Tour a Golden Oak. Pretend you’re Thurston Howell and get an agent to show you the poshy posh posh homes located right on Disney property.
- Hoop Dee Doo! The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue is a classic dinner show performed at Fort Wilderness Pioneer hall. Hootin’ and hollerin’ with beer, wine, and sangria included.
- Hang out in the arcade.
- Watch Wishes. The Magic Kingdom fireworks show can be seen from many locations outside the park. Pull up some sand on the Polynesian beach or grab dinner at the newly renovated California Grill and see the lights from a different vantage point.
- Ride a carousel. The mini carousel at Downtown Disney is the perfect place for little ones to get their first play on the ponies.
- Dine with an Imagineer. Get up close and personal with a real Disney Imagineer during a meal at the Boardwalk’s Flying Fish restaurant.
- Take an archery lesson at Fort Wilderness. Merida better watch out!
- Return to prehistoric times. The audioanimatronic dinosaurs at Downtown Disney’s T-Rex Cafe will have you thinking you’re back in the Stone Age.
- Take a free tour of the Wilderness Lodge.
- Dance with Mickey at the Backyard BBQ.
- Learn to hula at the Spirit of Aloha dinner show..
- Watch the Electrical Water Pageant. This free boat parade passes by the Magic Kingdom and area resorts every evening, weather permitting.
- Borrow a DVD. Guests of the Disney Vacation Club villas get free DVD rentals during their stay.
- Build a sand castle. There are sandy beach areas at the many of the Disney resorts. While you can’t swim in the water, the sand is perfect for digging and sculpting.
- Build your own remote control car. Ridemakerz at Downtown Disney stocks engines, bodies, wheels, and lots of auto bling for you to assemble into your very own remote control racer.
- Make your own treat at Goofy’s Candy Company, Downtown Disney. Choose cookies, apples, pretzels, or marshmallows. Dip them in caramel, white chocolate, or milk chocolate. Cover them with nuts, sprinkles, cookie crumbs, or more chocolate. Yes!
- Strike out. The new Splitsville luxury lanes feature bowling served up with great eats.
- Pose for formal photos.
- Hunt for Hidden Mickeys at your resort.
- she does stop by occasionally and often chats with guests when she’s in town.
- Visit Cinderella’s horses. The team of white ponies uses to pull Cindy’s carriage boards at Fort Wilderness. You’re welcome to watch their grooming and feeding, and maybe even give them a hug.
- Play volleyball. Most of the resorts with sand beaches also have a volleyball net on site. Ask the nearby lifeguard to lend you a ball.
- Become a princess. The Downtown Disney location of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique has all the same services as the one in the Magic Kingdom.
- Pick A Pearl. Stands are located at the Beach Club resort and at Downtown Disney. Choose an oyster and see what lies within.
- Take the free Sanaa Cultural Tour.
- Watch a brewmaster in action at the Big River Grille.
- Snack your way through dinner at the new Downtown Disney food trucks.
- Listen to some jazz. A jazz and Dixie band performs nightly at the Grand Floridian, for free.
- Scout for wildlife. Take the path between the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness to see creatures from the forest.
- Toss a ball or Frisbee. Most of the Disney resorts have open areas suitable for active play. Be careful not to disturb other guests, but feel free to let the kiddos burn off some steam on the grass or the beach. Many resort gift shops have balls available for purchase.
- Learn to surf. Typhoon Lagoon offers lessons.
Disney Parks may be the happiest places on Earth, but even the biggest Disney fan can tire of visiting the parks over and over and over…and over. However, though little known to the public, there are many more aspects of Disney to see and explore! Check out this list of things to do on your Disney vacation that doesn’t include strolling the Magic Kingdom.
Located in both Florida and California, this massive outdoor mall themed entirely on Disney is sure to entertain every member of your family for a full day or longer. Whether you’re just window shopping or earnestly browsing for the perfect Disney souvenir, Downtown Disney is the place for you. Pick up the Disney memorabilia that first catches your eye at one of the 40+ stores. Stop to watch and listen to the fun bands and stunning performers that showcase their trades on the stages in the streets. Please your palette at one of the many dining experiences. And definitely don’t miss the World of Disney- an enormous, department-store-sized version of the Disney Store you have back home, which is sure to have anything you could possibly imagine to serve as a reminder of your Disney vacation!
Disney Water Parks:
Walking around the Epcot Center all day in the sweltering Floridian heat with worn-out, over-stimulated children in tow can be less than pleasant as the day wears on. Why not cool off at one of Disney’s water parks? Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, the two Disney parks that go far more unnoticed than their older, more popular cousins, with slides, wave pools, and relaxation galore, are sure to be the perfect contrast to the rest of your Disney vacation. Featuring thrilling slides and rides, family-style raft rides, chairlifts, and plenty of kiddie areas for the littlest ones who can’t yet swim, Disney water parks can be just as fun, if not more so, then the Animal Kingdom or any of the other popular parks. (Disney pools and water parks also provide free life vests for your non-swimmers which gives parents a little peace of mind!)
This part of Walt Disney World is by far the most unknown aspect of the Disney experience because of its relative newness. Established in 1996, this quarter mile promenade along the waterfront is more geared towards older kids due to the extensive walking involved and what is laid out at the attraction. However, don’t let this deter you. If you get the chance, you won’t want to miss out on the exquisite dining, the timeless shops, and the exciting nightlife that the boardwalk has to offer. You can dance the evening away like Belle and her Beast at the Atlantic Dance Hall, or sing along to uproarious piano duels at Jelly Rolls like your family is part of your very own Disney movie! Simply meander along and view the classic, timeless shops to get a full Boardwalk experience, and be sure to grab a bite to eat while you’re at it.
Though many think only of the Magic Kingdom and its counterparts when someone suggests a Disney vacation, there are many other things Walt Disney thought up to please every one of his guests, whether aged 2 months or 102 years. Do yourself a favor; the next time your kids beg you for a trip to Disney World, try any of these alternatives instead for a happy family.
Part Swiss, part French, part Cosmopolitan, the small city of Geneva is located in the south-western corner of Switzerland. The city is situated along the banks of Europe's largest lake, Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), at the mouth of the Rhone River and is bordered by the Jura Mountains to the west and the French Alps in the east.
The beauty of this location is the easy access to many of the picturesque towns along the lake via paddle steamer. On a lovely Saturday morning, we boarded a boat from the Mont-Blanc launch area and then took in the beautiful views along the lake as we traveled about two hours stopping at little villages along the way. After meandering past Versoix, Coppet, Hermance, and Nyon, we landed in Yvoire where we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Le Vieux Logis and wandered through the town. The town is very picturesque, but there are few genuine “sights” to visit. They have a lovely garden with a labyrinth (Jardin des Cinq Sens), the requisite church (Saint Pancras) and the Yvoire Castle stands guard as you enter the town. The castle is private so you can just view the grounds.
If the weather is warm, there are recreational opportunities on the lake to while away your afternoon. Regardless, this is a lovely little excursion away from the hustle and bustle of Geneva.
Hotel Bristol Built in 1851, Hotel Bristol is conveniently located just minutes away from Lake Geneva and the old town of Geneva. Formerly owned by the Leppin family, Count Guy de Jacquelot-du-Boisrouvray purchased the property in 1972. The lobby is filled with pictures of the family. Upon the death of the Count, the Countess Albina du Boisrouvray, his daughter, became the owner of the SEGH and President of its Board of Directors.
The rooms are spacious, well-appointed and very quiet. Our room looked over a small quiet garden. The staff is extremely helpful and efficient. The wifi is excellent. The spa and fitness area look very modern. We did not have an opportunity to try the spa – maybe next time. I would not recommend the room service as the meal we ordered was quite disappointing. Undercooked chicken with massive herbs and cold pizza. Otherwise, this is an extremely wonderful hotel that I would highly recommend. http://www.bristol.ch/uk/hotel-luxe-geneve-official-site.php
Yvoire Boat Transportation: http://www.cgn.ch/en-gb/content/cgn/l%C3%A9man.aspx
Windows Restaurant: We enjoyed a lovely meal at this restaurant located in the D’Angleterre Hotel. The food was excellent and the staff was extremely helpful and very friendly. Comfortable restaurant. The entrees were reasonably priced by Swiss standards. The wine list was a bit expensive. The cheese selection was very diverse and delicious. There is a bar downstairs with music. If you ask upon arrival, the staff may be able to reserve a table for you. http://www.dangleterrehotel.com/aliments-et-boissons/restaurant-windows
Leopard Bar: Also located in the D’Angleterre Hotel, this is a fun little bar with live music and comfortable seating. Not real dancing, but a nice place to end your evening.
General Information about Lake Geneva: http://www.lake-geneva-switzerland.com/lake-geneva-cities-and-towns-in-switzerland-france/
During our recent trip to Switzerland, we found ourselves in Interlaken for several days. The last day there was rainy and cold which can put a real damper on your vacation! We had considered a side trip to the Matterhorn, but had concerns about the weather. Thursday morning, we decided to take a chance. We drove two hours to Tasch via beautiful mountain towns and roads with an assist by a car-train ferry. At Tasch, we parked the car and grabbed the 24 minute train to Zermatt where cars are verboten!
Zermatt is a small resort town surrounded by the majestic Alps. This means their hours of sun are limited so in the early morning it is dark and just 33◦F. When we arrived at 10:30 AM, the sun was starting to shine on the town and the temperature was gradually increasing. Still, we decided to purchase some gloves for our bike ride.
Based on some advice in Trip Advisor, we had planned to go up to the Sunnegga and ride down. However, we stopped at the local bike shop to inquire about renting bikes. They had good bikes and the shopkeeper was extremely helpful. After inquiring about our plans, he recommended an alternative plan that sounded pretty good so we followed his advice instead.
We rode our bikes by the Vispa River through town, picked up our tickets at the gondola station and then headed to Schwarzsee Station via Furi. We enjoyed the spectacular views of the Alps and the Matterhorn at the top before proceeding down the trail to StapenAlp where we stopped for lunch at the Stapenalp Restaurant that has an outdoor deck with sheepskin covered chairs. We enjoyed a lovely traditional Swiss lunch of rosti with red wine while enjoying the incredible view of the Matterhorn. After lunch we continued to Furi riding through the woods and stopping by a turquoise lake fed by glacier run off. Just before you arrive in Furi, the trail changes from gravel and mud to asphalt. At Furi we took a break from our bikes and took a little 40 minute hike on the glaciergarten trail over the hanging bridge that bridged Gorner Gorge below. The glacier garten was not that interesting so we kept walking back to Furi. Then we were off on a quick trip back to Zermatt. The whole trip took about four hours. We dropped our bikes and enjoyed a glass of wine on our balcony overlooking the panorama of the Matterhorn as the sun began to set behind the mountain ridge. Really lovely way to spend a day at the Matterhorn.
Le Gitan – This is a lovely family owned restaurant. The owner is quite friendly and helpful. The fish are grilled with light and fresh tasting herbs. The chef works at an ember fed fire grill right in the restaurant. On a cool evening, the heat from the fire is quite comforting. The side dishes of potatoes and rice are served from a big pan and dished out as needed. Seconds are no problem. The cost of the entrees was reasonable by Swiss standards. I really loved the lime shrimp and my husband enjoyed an excellent lamb filet. The wine list is a bit pricey, but the wine selection is good. I would highly recommend this lovely restaurant in Zermatt. http://www.legitan.ch/home_17.html
Gee’s – Just two doors from Le Gitan this little bar has live music every night. It fills up with locals about 10:30 in the evening. Good music and good drinks. Nice place to end your evening in lovely Zermatt. http://zermattgees.com/
Schloss Hotel – This is a beautiful hotel completely renovated in 2012. The rooms are comfortable and the bathrooms are very well appointed. The staff is extremely helpful and friendly. The owner was working at the desk both mornings when we were here. He is very nice. They have a new spa area as well. We didn’t have time to try it, but we will definitely try it in the future if we have the opportunity to return. We had room 400 which has a balcony with a spectacular view of the Matterhorn. I would definitely request this room again! http://www.schlosshotelzermatt.ch/
Bike Rental – We rented bikes from here. The gentleman that helped us was extremely helpful and friendly. He recommended a great route for a gentle bike ride down the mountain. Our ride was extremely enjoyable thanks to his suggestion. The bikes were in excellent condition with good suspension. http://www.bayardzermatt.ch/
Bike Route – We took the gondola to Schwarzsee via Furi. We enjoyed the spectacular views of the Alps and the Matterhorn at the top before proceeding down the trail to the StafelAlp Restaurant. We enjoyed a lovely traditional Swiss lunch of rosti with red wine while enjoying the incredible view of the Matterhorn. After lunch we continued to Furi riding through the woods and stopping by a turquoise lake fed by glacier run off. Just before you arrive in Furi, the trail changes from gravel and mud to asphalt. At Furi we took a break from our bikes and took a little 40 minute hike on the glaciergarten trail over the hanging bridge that bridged the gorge below. The glacier garten was not that interesting so we kept walking back to Furi. Then we were off on a quick trip back to Zermatt. The whole trip took about four hours. Really lovely way to spend an afternoon at the Matterhorn. http://www.zermatt.ch/en/mountain-biking/Mountain-bike-tours/Biketrail-Schwarzsee-Zermatt
Historically, Krakow was the intellectual center of Poland with a world famous university, lovely town center plaza, beautiful Renaissance Wawel Castle and home to Pope John Paul II. Fortunately, unlike Warsaw and northern Poland, many of the historic buildings survived World War II, so the flavor of their rich heritage is evident in every nook and cranny. And if you get tired of the historic cultural attractions, they also have their share of nightlife and gentlemen’s clubs as well.
We visited the traditional sights, but particularly enjoyed the National Museum in Krakow (www.muzeum.krakow.pl); it has an exceptional military display and a worthwhile 20th century Polish art collection. After you visit the castle and the churches, you may want a break from the busy town center. Consider a leisurely bike ride along the Vistula River to Tyniec. I would recommend renting a bike from the Cruising Krakow (http://www.cruisingkrakow.com/phone/index.html ) on Ulica Mariacka. The bikes are in good shape and reasonably priced as compared to other bike shops we checked out.
The trip to Tyniec is about 40 minutes by bicycle and includes a visit to the Benedictine Abbey (www.tyniec.mm.com.pl). If you are there during prayers and are dressed appropriately, you are welcome to listen to the serene and melodic chanting. The view of the river is lovely and the peacefulness of the setting is a relaxing change from the busy life of Krakow. Enjoy an ice cream break and head back to town!
Once you return to Krakow, if you are looking for an exceptional meal that is a nice change from traditional periogis and apple strudel, you may want to consider one of the following restaurants.
If you want to escape the restaurant scene and pick up a nice bottle of wine and some gourmet food, check out Vinoteka 13 on the plaza.
Ed Red is a contemporary restaurant with a Bohemian atmosphere. They serve outstanding steaks that are dry aged, nice side dishes, and sauces. Ed’s butter was delicious. Ed also served refreshing lemon-flavored mojitos. Friendly service and just a block off the main square.
La Campana has the potential to be excellent. The wait staff is very attentive, friendly and professional. The hosts, not so much. We made a reservation for their lovely courtyard for dinner, but it had rained two hours prior so it was closed when we arrived. All of the other restaurants in town continued to offer patio seating, but not La Campana. We were disappointed, but still enjoyed a good meal. We returned the next day to eat in the courtyard for lunch. It was open. Their ice machine was broken so they couldn't serve chilled drinks with ice. Overall, still a lovely lunch, but they obviously have some supervision challenges. http://lacampana.pl/en
Aqua e Vino is a lovely little restaurant just off the market square. The food is wonderful and the wine selection is extensive. The staff was extremely attentive, knowledgeable and helpful. Would recommend highly! http://aquaevino.pl/en/
We stayed at the Bonerowski Palace just off the main square. Good location, friendly staff and spacious rooms. Traditional uncomfortable furniture, but comfortable beds and bathrooms – most important! The interior sort of looks like the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, but the hotel is only 8 years old. http://www.palacbonerowski.com/