It’s not often that a hotel room feels like a destination, but after our stay in the spacious, family friendly Kids Sensory Suite at the Omni Mandalay near Dallas I can honestly say I couldn’t wait for my family to return to our hotel room!
Designed with Kids in Mind
Kid Friendly Furnishings and Decorating
The Kids Sensory Suite is a massive two room corner suite on the 23rd floor of the Omni Mandalay in Los Colinas. Connected to the adjoining King Suite via interior door, the Kids Suite features kid friendly decor in shaeds of pale greens and blues. The twin beds are covered in stuffed animals and toys wait in a bin near the tv. Plenty of open space is available for play near the comfortable denim covered couch and chair. A mosaic of dry erase boards and chalk boards cover one wall and the desk features a roll of paper, perfect for artistic creations.
The Kids Suite has its own full bathroom and special kids towels- full body green frogs- which make bath time extra fun. The nightly delivery of milk and cookies, along with the Omni Kids Packs, make this hotel room the complete package for kids. Read More »
Albuquerque, New Mexico isn’t exactly known for its wine, but that hasn’t stopped the folks at Casa Rondeña Winery from making award-winning vintages for more than 15 years. Located on the northwest side of town, the winery welcomes locals and tourists to fall in love with wine again or for the first time at an estate that looks as if it’s been transplanted directly from the Tuscan countryside.
The winery started as a family vineyard with enough space for John Calvin to live, grow grapes, and make wine with his wife and two sons. Today the property features gardens and fountains, a public gift shop and tasting room, and a private club attached to a barrel aging and storage facility.
Visitors to the winery can walk between the grape vines and snap photos in the gardens before entering the tasting room to sample ten hand-crafted wines. A tour allows you to see the wine-making process from grape to glass.
In addition to pouring, winery staff will also help educate you on what you’re tasting and what — according to the experts, anyway — makes good wine. Learn about “wines with good legs” and the importance of proper wine-glass holding in addition to what actually goes into each glass. Perhaps the best bit of advice to be heard here, however, is that there is no right or wrong opinion to have about wine. A dry red is no more sophisticated than a sweet white or a blushing rosé. At Casa Rondeña Winery, they offer enough variety to please any palette.
Photos Britt Reints
“It’s a building,” my kids said.
“Yeah, I’ll pass,” my husband added.
None of my family members could understand why I was so excited to spend an afternoon touring a house in western Pennsylvania that no one had been vacant for forty years. Even I, a Frank Lloyd Wright fan, wasn’t sure what to expect beyond an initial moment of awe upon seeing a home teetering on the edge of a waterfall.
The waterfall, as it turns out, was only a smart part of what made the former home of Pittsburgh department-store tycoons, the Kaufmann family, such a marvelous spectacle to explore.
Fallingwater was built for the Kaufmanns in the 1930s as an escape from the dirt and noise of the Steel City. When they originally commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright for the project, the Kaufmanns assumed they were having a home built with a view of beautiful waterfalls. It wasn’t until they saw the first sketches that they learned their home was to be built on top of the falls and into the surrounding mountainside.
A home teetering above rushing water is a sight to behold and an auditory wonder, no doubt. But the architectural genius is most evident inside the home where Wright’s firm hand controlled precisely how his building would be enjoyed. He used tight corridors and narrow doorways to force relief and an outward facing perspective upon entering his rooms and built-in storage spaces to dictate a clutter-free living space. Wright envisioned a family living among nature, not just looking out at it through windows, and he created sweeping decks, wide angel windows, and a waterfall-level patio to accommodate this vision.
Self-guided ground tours of Fallingwater start at $8, although a $20 guided tour of the house and guest quarters offer much more information than what can be gathered with the naked eye. An in-depth tour is $65 per person and is the only tour option that permits photographs of the inside of the house. Reservations should be made several weeks in advance for any of the guided tours, especially during the fall months when the autumn leaves allow for breathtaking photographs of the area.
Photo Britt Reints
American artist Grant Wood is a native of Iowa, and his home state has embraced his art and his memory. Perhaps best known for “American Gothic,” Wood had a knack for capturing the essence of rural life. Traveling through Iowa, there are several places where enthusiasts can learn more about this folk artist and his life. You can follow Grant Wood’s trail through Iowa in these places:
- Grant Wood Studio, Cedar Rapids: See where Grant Wood created many of his famous pieces of art, in his studio/apartment in downtown Cedar Rapids. Here you can learn how he got his start, how he spent his time when not painting, and about his family life while standing in the same sunlight he used while painting his famous works.
- Stone City, Iowa: The painting was named after the city, and if you drive slowly while approaching Stone City from the southwest, you can see Stone City as Grant Wood depicted it. Today the tiny town honors Grant Wood with a replica of the American Gothic House where you can pose for your own photo. Grant Wood also started an art colony and school in Stone City.
- Grant Wood Art Festival, Anamosa: The city where Grant Wood was born honors its native son with an art festival each June, and the Grant Wood Art Gallery offers another look at the local artist.
- Art Museums: The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art boasts the largest collection of Grant Wood art in the world, but other pieces can be found in art museums in Dubuque and Davenport as well. (If you want to see American Gothic, you’ll have to drive out of state to its home at the Art Institute of Chicago.)
- American Gothic House Center, Eldon: The house that inspired American Gothic is still standing in the small town of Eldon, Iowa, and a museum provides more information about Grant Wood as well as free loans of costumes and a pitchfork if you want to be featured in your own American Gothic photo.
To learn more about Grant Wood, see the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art’s Grant Wood Trail page.
Photos courtesy of the author.
Linda (minnemom) writes about family travel
at Travels with Children.