Fancy a White Christmas?

Jackson Hole in Wyoming can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Jac, as the locals call it, is about 2,000 metres (6,000) feet above the valley floor. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, a short drive from Jac, boasts one of the longest, steepest continuous vertical drops of any ski area in North America. When you see it, you realise why people come here.

I don’t ski, so why did I come? Jac offers plenty for the non skier too –

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Top USA destination for Kiwi Kids other than Disneyland.


The Southern Style


Atlanta in Georgia state has so much to offer for a family vacation. My grandchildren 8, 6 and 4, live there so I know what fun there is in the ‘Peach‘ state! I think it’s worth the additional  flight from California, and my UK rellies agree with me, they have 7 year old twins and loved their time in Georgia.

So here is my suggested itinerary depending on your time away from home and the ages of your children..  Remember when planning your trip the height of summer (July – August) is very hot and oppressive and the winters (Dec. January February) are very cold with possible snow in the mountains. So I’m suggesting April school holidays. The benefits are that you expose your family to a culturally different experience while still speaking English.  In the  south, as Atlanta is known, the food  varies: for example  shrimp and grits, waffles, hot dogs, smoked and pulled meats, the best steaks and check out the Red Velvet Cup Cakes if you have a sweet tooth.

Here is my suggested educational and FUN filled USA holiday for the pre teen family.

Of course there is much more to do than my suggestions,  but this will keep you busy for two weeks. You could also  add in Savannah out on the coast if time allows. Personally I wouldn’t take small children there, great for parents though. Cape Canaveral in Northern Florida!

And Disney World in Orlando instead of Los Angeles. It just takes some planning and lateral thinking.

Day 1

Fly to Los Angeles and

Day 2 and 3 stay two nights at Disneyland…  Or save this for another trip! 

Day 4

Fly to ATLANTA, Georgia just 41/2 hours direct flight on Delta. Flying via San Francisco gives different time options to hop across to Atlanta, which may be easier for you. Arrive Atlanta , the busiest airport in the USA so take it easy and don’t rush. Most flights require a train ride to baggage collection.

Rent a car at the airport or use taxis and rent a car the day you head out-of-town. Suggest you stay in a mid city hotel such as The Marriott in Buckhead. The Ritz Carlton has good deals on weekends too.

Maybe get a baby sitter and dine at one of Americas’ finest restaurants – Bacchanalia 4.1/2 stars.1198 Howell Mill Road Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30318 – but difficult I know when travelling with children.

Day 5

Today visit the Home of Coca Cola in the morning. Or head to Stone Mountain. We visited pre-Christmas and they had a snow tobogganing run, the entertainment changes with the seasons. It is not a mountain by NZ standards but it is fun. Two photos below  from my trip to Stone Mountain.




After lunch take in a pre booked show at the Atlanta Puppetry Theatre or at night-time. I love this small theatre. The Center for Puppetry Arts is a unique cultural treasure – a magical place where children and adults are entranced. Early Bookings essential … After the show they provide a “hands on” make your own puppet session. Great fun.

Day 6

Today is a treat – visit the famous Georgia Aquarium. This is the world’s most inspiring aquarium with over 8 million gallons of water the top Atlanta attraction, right in the heart of downtown, don’t miss the Beluga Whales. This venue opened debt free thanks to one families generosity! Georgia Aquarium’s new Beluga & Friends Interactive Program is a never-before-offered opportunity for an exclusive animal encounter with Georgia Aquarium’s beloved beluga whales! This inspirational, educational program allows guests to don Aquarium wetsuits and wade into the water to interact with the animals alongside Aquarium beluga whale trainers. Guests will also get a chance to meet some of the other animals that live in the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest gallery. With only eight slots per session, it’s an intimate experience you and your family will never forget but you must pre book!


Then maybe a visit to the biggest fishing shop I’ve ever seen “Bass Pro“.

LMC-8749-EditInside the Bass Pro store

One has to keep the Dad’s happy too – There is a shooting arcade in this store and a climbing wall plus a few tanks of live fish. Features fishing tackle and equipment, hunting, camping, marine, and outdoors supplies, plus clothing, it’s crazy…

‎Day 7

Maybe visit the Giant Pandas  at the Atlanta Zoo or pack up and head out-of-town.  The zoo is one of four zoos in the U.S. currently housing giant pandas.

 The Tellus Museum delights most youngsters as they gaze in awe  at life-size dinosaurs. Again this place was  created by the generosity of one wealthy family. There is a planetarium there too.  Tellus Museum in Cartersville …** Tellus Science Museum.


see the mouth of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, catch a glimpse of a saber-tooth cat and discover how life on Earth began in the Tellus Fossil Gallery. Parked outside are some big Euclids and other pieces of machinery. Also try your luck  searching for fossils in the big sandpit!

If you have daughters The American Girl Doll shop is a must see. If you own a doll they will give it a hair do in their special Salon but be warned this is credit card territory! It is 45 minutes approx from downtown Atlanta.slide1-121514

Other places  if time allows are The Children’s Museum of Atlanta especially for pre-schoolers.

And the Atlanta Botanical Garden, at certain times of the year they run special exhibits and events.

SHOPPING – Atlanta has the best shopping in the USA some would say. So while Dad is at Bass Pro eyeing up a new boat or fishing Rod I suggest 2-3 hours at Lennox Mall for the shoppers in the family. Don’t miss Anthropologie a superb homeware and clothing store. Another personal favourite is Kate Spade.  Close by is an excellent eatery  with tables outside (opposite Anthropologie. )   Lennox Square.  Since 1959, Lenox Square® has been the premier shopping destination. Macy’s and nearly 250 specialty stores like FENDI, Burberry, Cartier,

Day 8

Out of Town so perhaps stay somewhere north of The Tellus Museum.**Decisions and choices are numerous. Time is the enemy. Google the links and make your decisions, impossible to everything  especially if anyone needs an afternoon nap! Probably the parents

More options:

The Biltmore Estate


America’s largest home-built by George Vanderbilt. Stay and explore the 8000-acre beautiful and grand estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Biltmore Estate is a large private estate and tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. Biltmore House, the main house on the estate, is a Châteauesque-styled mansion built by George Washington. It is a beautiful stately home worth a visit if time allows. If not head for a couple of days in the foothills of the The Appalachian Trail is a 2,185 mile long public footpath that traverses the scenic, …  pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains.IMG_4746

I like Lake Burton too, it is  not touristy at all. Stay 2-3 nights and relax. Maybe do a spot of fishing.  remember too it is cooler in the mountains than back in Atlanta.






While at Lake Burton area don’t miss Sliding Rock at Lake Burton, a swimming hole with hours of child entertainment. My grandson aged 8 loves this place!

Day 9

Return to Atlanta via  Goats on the Roof a great fun place for children. The children  get to pan for gold and keep their findings. The goats are crazy! Children love it. You buy goat food but worth it really! I suggest a night in a hotel in Atlanta  to catch your breath before the flight home.

Maybe visit the  Marietta Square for great boutique shops and restaurants. A top Restaurant with wonderful southern food is The Butcher The Baker More an adult restaurant but soooo good.  23 North Park Square, Marietta.


Also nearby is the historic Civil War Battleground. Good eateries like Willie Raes  for Southern foods, colouring pencils etc for small people. Or the Marietta Pizza Company,or any one of the local pizza places. and a historic old Tram Ride if you want to sit and watch historic old homes and relax a while. It isn’t a priority but it is enjoyable.

Then fly directly to LAX and onto Auckland that night…you’ll all sleep well on the plane after all that excitement and Georgia hospitality. Any other ideas please comment below and where ever you take your children  enjoy the journey.