All posts by Travelammo

Smithsonian’s National Zoo – Washington DC

Located just a few miles from the usual tourist hot spots in Washington D.C, like the white house and the capital building, there is the perfect addition to any trip to the DC area, the Smithsonian National Zoo. Not only does it provide a fantastic break from exploring monuments and museums, but it can also provide a welcome break for all the family whilst escaping the heat of the city. Another plus is like virtually all the Smithsonian properties, entrance is free, which is a big bonus if you are a family group.

Set among 163 acres in the south of Rock Creek Park, 5 miles to the North of the National Mall, the Biological park and Zoo is home to over 200 different species of animals including the very popular and endangered Giant Pandas. The Park and Zoo provide the perfect place to spend an a summers day with plenty of spaces to have lunch with the family and given that it is free to visit, on arrival you just walk straight though the gates and get set to explore.

Given the park is reasonably large it is often nice to visit several times, exploring a different area in detail with each trip. This is obviously only convenient if you are staying nearby but if you are looking to just visit for the day it is wise to plan for a whole day, you will need it.

Smithsonian Zoo is subdivided into various themed areas, each designed to provide natural environments and give visitors a helping hand where to look for certain species as well as educating as to the animals origins at the same time. For example the Giant Pandas are located along the Bamboo lined Asian trail next to the Asian Elephants.

As the Zoological park is a working research facility there is often the chance to see or even take part in some of the extremely important research that takes place year round. All of the staff at the zoo are extremely keen to chat and answer any questions you may have and we encourage you to do so, it will make you visit unforgettable whilst learning personal accounts on the lives and history of some of the animals that call the zoo home.

A selection of the Smithsonian’s favorite animals:

  • Giant Pandas, Red Pandas, Sloth Bears
  • Elephants
  • Great Cats including Lions and Tigers
  • Meerkats
  • Great Apes including Orangutans and Gorillas
  • Reptiles including Anacondas, Cobras, Tortoises, Turtles and Alligators
  • American Bison
  • Grey Wolves

Obviously this is a tiny selection of the animals available for viewing, there is much more to explore at the park and as it is a working facility there are many new arrivals, exchanges and newborns so there is always something new to see even if you have visited before.

Being set in the grounds of a park the Zoo, unlike many others is spacious with large enclosures,all of which offer unrivaled views of the animals. Many enclosures are designed in such a way that few have fences obscuring the view making you feel closer to the animals. This also leads to less crowded viewing areas with plenty of time to observe the animals behavior.

Food, Drink and Amenities at the Smithsonian Zoo:

There are several restaurants and cafes available located around the park serving a range of meals. Burgers and fast food, children’s meals, salads and sandwich’s are all available at reasonable prices. There is also a few grill offering sit down meals in a slightly more formal setting whilst food kiosks and stands are located around the park for a snack on the go.

The zoo also welcome visitors to bring in their own food into the park but please remember to be careful with waste.

Zoo opening times and dates:

The zoological park is open everyday with the exception of December 25th. Hours vary by time of year but are generally 8am-7pm (5pm in winter). Dinning, Shopping and some exhibit halls have earlier closing times.

The park often has special events surrounding holidays so please be sure to check the Zoos website before visiting.

Getting to the Smithsonian Zoo and Parking

Visiting by Car – So we mentioned entrance is free, Parking however is not and is currently charged at around $22 per day. Not a bad price considering that is per car. Entrances to most zoos is often more than that per person. All main car parks are located along the North road which is accessible from both the scenic Beach Drive and the Connecticut Ave NW.

Metro – The zoo is easily accessible from three Metro stations within a few minutes walk, the closest is the Woodley Park-Zoo station with the Columbia heights to the west and Cleavland Park on Connecticut Ave to the north a 10-15 minute walk.

For More information visit the Smithsonian Zoo Site here.

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Myrtle Beach South Carolina Travelammo

Myrtle Beach Visitor Guide

Myrtle Beach in South Carolina is one of Americas favorite holiday destinations. With miles and miles of golden beaches, Boardwalks and Amusements galore the beach resort can satisfy almost every holiday makers needs.

Myrtle Beach Palms - TravelammoSituated on the coast shared with neighboring North Carolina, Myrtle Beach forms the beginning of over 60 miles of beaches which run all the way though into its northern sister state. The resort itself has been a popular holiday destination for those in the northern states not wanting to travel as far south as Florida and the Gulf Shores for decades. The beach resorts also attracts tens of thousands of international visitors annually.

North Myrtle Beach looking southWell developed and long established, every visitor is well catered for and there really is something for every one. With a host of Amusement parks, mini golf parks, plenty of shopping and numerous restaurants the resort is well able to cope with the millions of visitors it attracts every year. With this in mind finding somewhere to dine is easy and not feeling rushed is a real plus. The uncrowded general feel of the resort makes for an enjoyable stay.

Myrtle Beach sand and pier travelammoThe beach area has several distinct areas starting with the unspoiled beauty fronting the Myrtle Beach State Park. Beyond the state park access to the beach front is offered via South and North Ocean Blvd. Running Parallel to the beach, most of South Ocean blvd is lined with beach front high rise hotel resorts and rental apartment buildings. These are located directly on the beach and offer unhindered access to the less crowded sections of the beach.

Family Fun at the Amusements

Moving further along South Ocean Blvd the pace of the resort picks up a bit and located between 6th Ave S and 3rd Ave S is the first of many amusement parks, the Family Kingdom Amusement Park which along with the Water Park includes roller coasters, Go-Karts along with candy stands and try your luck stalls. From this area and continuing northwards along the beach front road the restaurants and amusements grow in density with amenities spreading inland to the South Kings Hway.

Myrtle Promenade TravelammoShortly after crossing the water inlet and amusement park the road turns into the North Ocean Blvd where you will find the second major pier and the beginning of the superbly clean and beautifully winding Boardwalk. Starting next to the pier at 2nd Ave N and Running for approximately a mile in front of the beach hotels the concrete Boardwalk ends and the wooden Boardwalk and Myrtle Beach Promenade Begins. Home to burger bars and beach outlets the Boardwalk then continues beyond the Myrtle Beach Sky wheel and on to the northern Pier, beyond which the beach is again lined with numerous Hotels. Much Beyond 31st Ave N the beach is fronted by private houses and holiday rentals.

Shopping In Myrtle Beach:

Recommended Hotels in Myrtle Beach:

    • Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort. Out of town, Quiet beach front location.
    • Bluegreens Vacations, Seaglass Tower Ascent Resort Collection. Promenade Location.
    • Carolinian Beach Resort with Water Park. N Ocean Blvd, Beach Front.

Top Attractions and amusements in Myrtle Beach:

    • Ripley’s Believe it or Not, N Ocean Blvd.
    • Myrtle Beach Zip-line Adventures, 9th Ave N and Main St.
    • Broadway at the Beach, 29th Ave N & Robert M Grissom Hway.
    • Family Kingdom Amusement Park, S Ocean Blvd.
    • Jungle Lagoon Mini Golf Myrtle Beach, S Kings Hway.
    • Pine Lakes Golf Course, N Kings Hway.
    • Myrtle Waves Water Park, 10th Ave N.

Top tips:

    • North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach can be confusing as they share many road names, Double check locations.
    • Shopping at Barefoot landing offers a more relaxed shopping experience and selection of restaurants although located 10 mins drive away in North Myrtle Beach.

Related Travelammo Articles and Guides:

    • Take in the East Coast of America – Drive I-95
    • South Carolina

 External Links:

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Disney Hotel

Disneyland Paris Visitors Guide – France

Located to the east of the French capital, Disneyland Paris offers the perfect short break for families looking for some Disney magic with offers and packages available to suit most budgets.

So we all know what Disney is and probably have ideas of what to expect from the park, but here we will explore some facts specific to the European little sister to the sprawling bigger brother in Orlando.

Disneyland Paris consists of two parks, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. These are conveniently located directly next to each other with the entrances right at the heart of the resort only a hundred or so meters apart. This makes it easy to move from one park to the other in the same day, assuming multi park tickets are held.

Disney Princess CasteDisneyland park is the home of the iconic Disney Princess Castle and all the other things that traditionally come to mind when thinking Disney like parades, princes and princesses, thrilling rides, cartoon super hero’s and all the quaint and cute Disney fun you can imagine. Of the two parks this one is far more suitable for smaller children in the group with lots of areas dedicated to more traditional rides and lots of cuddly soft cartoon characters and princesses waiting to for a hug and a photo. Rides aside the park features a wealth of other entertainment including cinematic experiences, workshops, playgrounds, workshops, mazes, train rides and fun zones.

Walt Disney Studios is somewhat more intense and themed on the movie making industry. Right from the moment you enter the park you will be immersed in the movie making world with numerous interactive exhibits and attractions, explosive shows and behind the scene tours.

 Feature Rides and attractions:

  • Crush’s Coaster – Walt Disney Studios
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril – Disneyland Park
  • RC Racer – Walt Disney Studios
  • Rock `n` Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith – Walt Disney Studios
  • Space Mountain Mission 2 – Disneyland Park
  • Star Tours – Disneyland Park
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Walt Disney Studios

On top of all these big thrill rides there are hundreds of smaller rides including Mad Hatter Tea Cups, Buzz Lightyears Laser Quest, Studio Tram Tour – Behind the scenes and many more.

Disney Parade Disneyland Paris - TravelammoDuring peak times the queues at some of the bigger rides and attractions can become extremely long so the park offers a selection of Fastpass services. Unlike other big name parks around the world Disneyland Paris offers every customer a free Fastpass service. To use the free service just enter your admission ticket into the machine located at the participating rides and you will be issued a ticket with a return time to ride on. Note: You can only hold one Fastpass ticket at any one time or one ever two hours if they are unused. Other Fastpass services are available including VIP at a cost and VIP Disney Hotel pass both of which vary in terms of use.

Both parks have a large selection of restaurants serving up everything from Hot Dogs and Fries to sit down Barbecue and Tex Mex. Located all over the parks you will also find stalls, mobile sellers and food stands selling everything from ice-creams to popcorn. Snacks and sweets treats are also offered in abundance around the parks in the candy stores and souvenir shops.

Disney Village Disneyland Paris - Travelammo

For Entertainment and dinning when the parks are closed head to the Disney Village, again located at the center of the park and next to the hotels. The village offers restaurants such as Planet Hollywood, McDonalds, Starbucks, Billy Bobs Country Western saloon, The Rainforest Cafe and many more. For entertainment there is a multiplex Cinema, Arcades, Bowling alleys and the Buffalo Bills Wild West Dinner show.

Disney Hotel Disneyland Paris - TravelammoThe park has seven on-site hotels each with its own unique theme implemented to the highest detail and when you return from a long day at the park the magic is continued. Whilst there are many other hotels in the surrounding area, we believe your Disney experience is honestly not complete if you choose to stay else where, not forgetting the convenience of being able to walk to the parks in the morning ( free shuttle buses are also available ).

On-Site Hotels:

Deals: Disneyland Paris always has a deal on offer and if on the rare occasion it is not offering one just wait a few weeks and there will be one. Deals on offer are usually kids go free up to certain ages, free nights when you stay and play and free dinning. Often the best deals are available late in the year for bookings early in the next.

Getting to Disneyland Paris:

  • Car: If your arriving via road the resort has a dedicated entrance road located at junction 14 on the A4/E50 highway.
  • Eurostar/Train: The resort has its very own station ( Marne La Vallee ) located right at its heart with regular train links in and out from Paris via Eurostar and the French Rail provider SNCF.
  •  Bus / Coach: Regular bus links run from Paris to the park centre.
  • Nearest International Airport:Charles de Gaulle ( CDG ). Located 22 miles by road from the resort.

Top Tips:

  • Price up the meal plans, these can offer exceptional value and keep the holiday budget under control.
  • Use the fast passes allowing more time to enjoy the rest of the park.
  • Don’t rush around, try to get in to the park early and stay late enjoying your time there.
  • Dine at the hotel buffets for fixed priced dinning if not on the meal plans.
  • The best value deals include hotels, dinning and park tickets so look out for these when on offer.

Quick Links:

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Alcudia Majorca Holiday Guide

Situated on the north eastern tip of Majorca, Alcudia with is long soft sand beaches, clear waters and relaxed atmosphere has been a favored holiday destination for European families for decades.

The area of Alcudia is divided into three separate areas, the old fort town, the port and the main tourist area to the south which lines the miles of beaches.

Majorca Alcudia Beach - TravelammoFronting the beach, south of the fort town resides the main tourist area where you will find numerous restaurants, hotels, apartment complexes and shops with most major chains represented like KFC, Burger King, Spar and Lidl. Those looking for home comforts are well catered for.  The majority of these are located along  the Ave Pere Mas i Reus. This main road is located directly opposite the jetty on the beach and is lined with restaurants serving both authentic Spanish food, barbecue and European delights. Late night bars are also present for those looking to party and dance away into the early hours whilst alternative nightly entertainment is available for families until midnight in many locations .

Majorca Alcudia Beach 5 - TravelammoThe beach in Alcudia along with the waters are without doubt some of the finest in the Mediterranean and visitors are well catered  for and  looked  after. The water during the summer months is beautifully warm, crystal clear and calm.  Shelving gently, the water out to about 50 meters is mostly only a few feet deep and at most times is extremely calm with barely a wave so provides the perfect safe location for children to take a dip whilst the parents relax and soak up the sun. Amenities in the beach area and small refreshment shop and toilets/showers can be found dotted along the boardwalk which extends all the way to the port.

Majorca Alcudia Beach Peddalos - TravelammoAll the usual holiday beach activities are on offer with parasailing, jet-skis, pedalos and sailing available from the beach. From the Jetty and at various other locations tickets can be purchased for boat trips
including snorkeling trips, glass bottom boats and day trip to discover the coves and hidden beachesMajorca Alcudia Boat trip to Platja Des Coll Baix - Travelammo only accessible by boat. Boat trips generally run several times a day and pick up from both the port area and at the end of the Jetty. Please don’t forget to pack you sunscreen if going out on the water for the day as the sun is reflected by the water and very Strong.

Majorca Alcudia Town Square - TravelammoThe town of Alcudia is steeped with history and for any family visiting the tourist area a day trip should not be missed. When arriving in the old town you will be greeted by the ornate entrance arches leading to the town which still to this day is surrounded by the original fortified walls. Once behind the walls its like walking back in time, narrow cobbled streets where wheeled carts would once haveMajorca Alcudia Town Market - Travelammo been used to transport the market goods and produce. Today the area is mostly pedestrianized and the cobbled streets are home to cafe tables where authentic Spanish restaurants, Cafes and tapas bars serve their goods in the shade provided by the buildings.

Majorca Alcudi Fort Wall - TravelammoStrolling around the outer edge of the old town take the opportunity to scale the areas of the fortified wall where access is  still possible and walk around the top where the view of the old town is vast and beautiful. A taxi ride into the old town from the hotels is typically around €10 and if your feeling fit is around a 30-45 minute walk. For something a little different take a horse drawn carriage, reasonably priced these can be found located next to most taxi ranks.

So what else has Alcudia got to offer, well there is a water park, Hidropark located on Av. Tuca to the north of the tourist area. ForMajorca Alcudia Museum - Travelammo something a little more relaxed and for those seeking to learn about Alcudias rich past the is the museum of Sant Jaume located within the fort area which is combined with a church. For those even more adventurous car hire is available at several locations and within easy reach is an array of tiny villages, quiet beach coves and mountain parks.

Alcudia Majorca Key Facts:

  • Severed by Majorca’s main Airport in Palma ( PMI )
  • Drive time from the airport is approximately 40 minutes
  • Holiday season from April – September.

Nearby Towns and Resorts:

  • Port de Pollenca
  • Can Picafort

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grandfather mountain north Carolina travelammo

Grandfather Mountain – North Carolina

Standing proud in the heart of the Appalachian mountain range, Grandfather mountain is one of the tallest peaks in the region. Lying west of picturesque town of Boone and easily accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway the area is a popular destination for tourists looking to access a the glorious landscape view and untouched beauty of the contained within.

Swinging Bridge GrandfatherCentered within the state park, Grandfather mountain rises to a height of 1812m above sea level. The peak itself it actually named Calloway Peak and stands just north of the main visitor center. Located at the visitor center is one of the biggest attractions within the park, The swinging bridge. Suspended at a height of around 5200 ft above sea level the suspension foot bridge spans between to peaks which lead to one of the steepest cliffs of grandfathers ridges. Once crossing the bridge onto the exposed rocky outcrop the views are spectacular and the whole of the skyline opens up looking across to the Grandmother Gap, Linville and the ridge town of grandfather itself.

Black bear grandfather mountainThe state park is also home to a small wildlife park which is focused on preservation of the local ecology and wildlife and is home to seven wild habits housing native animals including black bear, bald eagles, river otters and cougars. Its has to be noted that unfortunately Cougars no longer live in the wild within the state park area and are becoming increasingly rare throughout the Appalachian mountain range.

Grandfather mountain entrance roadThe grandfather wildlife park is located about half way along the entrance road which finally leads to the visitor center at the peak. Accessible from the same car park as the wildlife attraction is a large eco-friendly lodge building which is home to a small restaurants selling delicious treats where there is the opportunity to dine outside on a balcony with a view of the beautiful valleys below.

Try the Fudge Shop in the visitor center

Once you arriving at the upper car park and location of the famous swinging bridge you will find another lodge containing a souvenir shop and tourist information. Within the lodge you will be greeted by very informative park workers who will be able to advise on the various trails and answer any questions you wish to ask regarding the park.

grandfather north carolinaThe Grandfather state park due to its high elevation is unfortunately only usually open seasonally and opening times are subject to change. Access is still available to hikers and trail walkers entering at various points from the highway but services will be very limited or closed when the main access road in shut to traffic.

Getting to the park:

The entrance is located along the Blowing Rock Highway – US-221 between Linville and Blowing rock. The nearest exit from the Blue ridge parkway is mile marker 305 where the road joins US-221, if heading to Grandfather via this route once joining the highway head south towards Linville.

Top Tip:

If travelling from the north or south we recommend going via the Blue Ridge Parkway for the most scenic view.

What’s nearby:

    • Linville – 2.5 miles – 5mins
    • Blowing Rock – 15 miles – 30 mins

Official Links:

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