Nature Comes Alive on the Upper West Side

New York

Bluegreen Resorts offers travelers to New York City a convenient, beautifully appointed, and affordable home base from which to explore the city. Stay at The Manhattan Club in midtown and enjoy easy access to some of the world’s most popular and beloved attractions.

The whole family could spend a month visiting the American Museum of Natural History and still keep finding new things to explore. Chances are that your kids are fans of the hit movie Night at the Museum, starring Ben Stiller as a night watchman at the Museum of Natural History. While you don’t need to worry about the exhibits coming to life, you should prepare yourself for your own family’s adventure by learning a little about the experiences that await you.

Originally chartered in 1869, the museum is situated right across from Central Park on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Within the museum are areas that focus on paleontology, animal life, astronomy, earth sciences, biodiversity, and the history of world cultures. The AMNH staff conducts high-level research and exploration, with many of their discoveries published in the magazine Natural History.

When you visit the museum, you can experience a stunning life-size blue whale model in its home in the Hall of Ocean Life. Crafted from fiberglass in the shape of a female whale, the figure is 94 feet long and weighs more than 20,000 pounds. Continuing your journey into the Hall of Biodiversity, you can visit a replica of the Dzanga-Sangha Rain Forest in central Africa.

Walk alongside reconstructed fossil skeletons and reconstructions of dinosaurs in the two halls of the Dinosaur Wing, which includes more than 100 specimens. These represent only a tiny portion of the museum’s total paleontological collection. Your young scientists may also enjoy getting a preview of the attractions with the AMNH’s new mobile app, DINOSAURS: American Museum of Natural History Collections.

Stroll through halls of gems, minerals, and meteorites in the Earth and Planetary Sciences area, and then pay an evening visit to the 87-foot sphere that houses the Hayden Planetarium. In the Space Theater, you will see three-dimensional astronomical maps and realistic images of stars, galaxies, nebulae, and our own solar system.

Entering and leaving the museum through the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda gives you a chance to admire the iconic display of a rearing Barosaurus protecting its young. You can also become inspired by the series of murals depicting the accomplishments of President Roosevelt, an ardent student of natural history and a supporter of conservation and research.

Hawaii’s Multicultural Heritage Is Reflected in Its Food

Kauai Stay on Kauai at Bluegreen Resorts’ Pono Kai oceanfront resort and experience a vacation with plenty of opportunities to play and relax. In addition to the area’s pristine beaches, stunning cliffs, and mile-high mountains, guests at the resort have access to a variety of restaurants. When selecting a meal, be sure to include a sampling of favorite local fare.

Hawaii’s ethnic and culinary heritages derive from a rich multicultural tapestry, with influences from Japan, China, Korea, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Portugal, the United States, and the many islands of Polynesia. Immigrants from all these cultures and more have blended their native flavors, seasonings, and cooking techniques to create the Aloha State’s distinctive cuisine.

The people of Hawaii love unusual taste combinations. For example, a common way to prepare lunch is to pair meat or seafood with white rice and macaroni salad. Macaroni and Spam both have a long history of popularity in the state, with some families mixing Spam directly into macaroni and cheese. Spam, which is more popular in Hawaii than anywhere else in the world, even finds its way into soups. It also features in picnics and snacks—sometimes wrapped in seaweed, and at other times in musubi. Spam musubi is made with Spam slices fried in soy sauce and sugar, then pressed with cooked rice and furikake seasoning into a musubi mold and wrapped in strips of nori seaweed. This mix of tastes and textures can become an addicting treat.

Among the ingredients that give Hawaii’s food its zest is poke, a salad made of raw fish, usually yellowfin tuna. Locals season poke with soy sauce, kukui nuts, seaweed, and sesame oil.

Many visitors consider poi, which is made from mashed taro root, to be an acquired taste. Because the dish figures prominently in Hawaiian culture, you should make an effort to try it. It might be easier to swallow when you consider that poi long enjoyed the status of a sacred dish, whose presence at the table invited one of the Hawaiian people’s ancestral spirits to join the meal.

You will often find poi served with lomi-lomi salmon. This dish consists of cubes of salted salmon mixed with pieces of green onion, tomatoes, and mashed ice.

Another specialty is Hawaii’s distinctive pink-hued sea salt, whose color derives from the addition of red volcanic clay.

Lau lau is a dish that folds vegetables, along with steamed pork and fish, into tamale-like shapes inside leaves of the taro plant. Kalua pork, a popular meat dish, is seasoned with liquid smoke flavor, banana leaves or whole bananas, Hawaiian salt, and the leaves of the ti plant.

The Outlet Malls of Orlando

Shopping A visit to Orlando, Florida, provides the opportunity to select from two Bluegreen Resorts vacation destinations: Orlando’s Sunshine Resort I & II and The Fountains. Both locations offer you a base from which to explore the wide variety of family activities in one of the world’s most popular spots. In addition, Orlando has plenty of room to indulge in shopping. The city features numerous malls and small boutiques, as well as several outlet malls where visitors can discover one bargain after another.

Orlando Premium Outlets, which is conveniently situated on Vineland Road near the heart of the city’s tourist corridor, provides access to some of the best designer goods in the area. You will find more than 150 name brands, including Ann Taylor, Fendi, Kenneth Cole, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch, and Tommy Hilfiger. The outlet merchants offer specials that may include holiday discounts and “midnight madness” shopping opportunities. Military personnel simply need to show their IDs to receive a VIP coupon book.

Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, located on Vineland Road, is also a short distance from Orlando’s other leading tourist destinations. The outlet offers the finest goods from Wilsons Leather, Old Navy, Rockport, Calvin Klein, Jones New York, Levi’s, and numerous other brands. Moreover, the outlet has a Disney Character store on-site. Providing a variety of online discounts, Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores makes finding the best bargains even more convenient.

At Orlando Premium Outlets’ location on International Drive, you can find high-end designer clothing for women, men, and children. Score a pair of jeans by 7 for All Mankind; get on-trend by visiting Charlotte Russe; find a classic DKNY, J. Crew, or St. John sweater; or get ready for the cold at The North Face. All of these retailers and dozens more maintain a presence at the International Drive location, and they all provide discounts that will make your vacation more enjoyable.

Summer Sporting Gear: A Few Basics

If you’re planning to take your family to one of Bluegreen Resorts’ popular vacation destinations in Big Bear Lake, California, the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, or Gulf Shores, Alabama, you’ll be able to take advantage of numerous opportunities for summer fun. As part of your planning, you may want to upgrade the gear you use for your favorite sports. Here are a few tips to help you begin:

First, assess what you already own to see whether a new investment will really be cost-effective. Additionally, consider whether renting the needed items, or even buying them used, is a better choice. Online sources such as eBay, Amazon.com, and numerous sporting goods stores offer pre-owned equipment in excellent or like-new condition, and at bargain prices.

Baseball bats, balls, and similar items can be purchased used at 40 percent or more off a typical retail price. Keep in mind that many experts recommend buying equipment such as helmets and facemasks new to ensure proper fit and optimum safety.

In the case of items such as bats, hockey sticks, and the like, buying locally may be the best choice, because you will need to handle the piece to make sure its weight and configurations are the best for your needs.

Baseball gloves are one item it may not pay to buy cheaply, particularly where children are concerned. Get the size that fits your child right now, to make certain that he or she can play in safety and comfort. And realize that name-brand gloves are often constructed with more care and attention to quality than alternatives.

Trekking coupleFor your hiking and camping needs, you’ll need to evaluate boots and tents. Choose boots that fit the type of terrain where you’ll be trekking. In addition, remember that newer trail running shoes can replace older models of heavier boots for many purposes. Just be aware that this type of lighter footwear can result in more sprains if you’re not careful, and may only last for a trip or two. Boots with Vibram soles can provide extra peace of mind where safety is concerned, and additionally can be easily re-soled. Heavy-duty hiking boots with extra support are excellent choices for those with ankle problems.

Your tent will be your home away from home in the wilderness, so choose it carefully. A trail tent is lightweight and packs up easily and compactly. It can withstand a range of severe weather conditions. Wilderness tents are made for extreme weather and hard use, and come with extra water- and wind-proofing features. Easy to set up and take down, campground tents are made for the conditions present at most family campgrounds and are not typically designed for climate extremes.

How to Speak New Orleans

When you stay at Bluegreen Club La Pension in New Orleans, you will experience more than comfortable, well-appointed, and affordable vacation accommodations. You and your family will find the entire French Quarter – the historic heart of the city – at your doorstep. The recently renovated property now reflects to an even greater extent the architectural face of one of the United States’ most beautiful and fascinating cities.

Aside from its delectable local cuisine, rich multicultural entertainment heritage, and sparkling nightlife, New Orleans offers the opportunity to become acquainted with a distinctive dialect and expressions that are partly based on the French language and culture and seasoned with plenty of Cajun spice and Southern charm.

Following are a few distinctively New Orleans words and expressions you may encounter during your stay:

If you make a purchase and a store employee gives you a special gift or a little something extra, you’ve just received a lagniappe. The term, which is chiefly used in the southern parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, derives from French Creole via Spanish.

Speaking of the Creole heritage, the term itself has come to denote anyone of French, Caribbean, or Spanish ancestry. Creole culture, language, and cuisine have deeply influenced the rhythms of New Orleans life. Avoid confusing “Creole” with “Cajun,” which refers to the heritage and culture of people who came to the area from French Acadia in Canada.

One of the many French-derived phrases you may hear in New Orleans is “Laissez les bons temps roulez!” which means “Let the good times roll!” The phrase expresses the typical New Orleans attitude of enjoying life to the fullest.

“Who dat?” If you visit the city during a New Orleans Saints football game, there will be no doubt that this popular chant refers to the home team, as in, “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?”

And if you really want to sound like a native, simply call the French Quarter “the Quarter;” remember that a “throw” is anything, such as beads or doubloons, thrown from a float at Mardi Gras; and recognize a “shotgun” house by its single-row structure in which rooms are joined through one hallway running to the back.