Thursday, August 25, 2016
If you love gorgeous rivers and forests, awe-inspiring historical monuments, and vibrant metropolitan culture, then the Washington, DC area is where you want to be.
There is no shortage of things to do with children any time of year, not to mention a diverse range of leisure and nightlife activities for young adults. The greater metropolitan area consists of downtown Washington DC, which is surrounded by several cities, including Arlington, VA, and Bethesda, MD.
One of the most popular attractions in the DC area is the Smithsonian Institute. With 19 museums that cover a wide range of subjects from art to space exploration, you are bound to find something exciting for both you and the kids. Keep in mind that most of these museums are HUGE, so plan on spending a couple of hours at each.
Spectacular national monuments spread throughout the city are a “must see” when visiting the nation’s capital. Some of the most popular sites include the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial Wall and the Jefferson Memorial. A great way to see the monuments is to take a guided tour. You will learn many interesting facts about US history, and be free from having to navigate congested city traffic.
Another great choice for a daytime activity is to visit the three houses of government, the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and the Supreme Court. These are all impressive feats of architecture and offer an informative window into the history of the nation.
Ready to take a break from the hustle and bustle of urban life? Take a day trip to Great Falls Park and enjoy a variety of outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, cycling, and horseback riding. Bring the children for a fun-filled adventure, or enjoy some free time and decompress surrounded by the majestic beauty of nature.
Georgetown, Washington DC’s historic waterfront, is a great place to visit during the day or evening. If you love to shop, then you will be in paradise. The streets are lined with a large variety of retail shops and restaurants of every nationality. Weekends can get pretty busy in Georgetown, so be sure to make a dinner reservation if possible.
The sites above barely scratch the surface of all the fun and amazing things to do in the Washington DC area. It is a highly recommended city for au pairs due to its rich cultural diversity and huge variety of entertainment, culture, education, and leisure activities. Complete your application today to start your journey. You may find yourself in this amazing city before you know it!
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are a Mid-western hot spot! There is a phenomenal mix of outdoor nature and city activities. The Minneapolis – St. Paul area is second only to New York in artistic activity per capita. The parks are among the best in the world and the cities are well known for world class shopping and their natural beauty, providing a unique opportunity for au pairs to experience two cities in one.
The Twin Cities area is well known for exceptional shopping and many award-winning restaurants. The famous Mall Of America with over 500 stores is located in Bloomington, MN (Metro Minneapolis), and is the nation’s largest mall with dozens of restaurants, an indoor amusement park, an aquarium, Legoland and a butterfly garden! Did I mention that all clothes and shoe shopping is tax free at the Mall of America?
If you’re not interested in shopping, go for one of the many celebrity events, the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park, or see the psychedelic jellyfish at the Sea life Aquarium. Go through the Mirror Maze the House of Comedy, snorkel dive with the sharks or use the A.C.E.S. flight simulator. You can spend days inside this mall, the Metro transit rail will drop you off and return you safely home.
You’ll find Minneapolis to be trendier, and St. Paul to be somewhat quieter, but no less interesting. During the summer you will enjoy the Chain of Lakes, a scenic byway located southwest of downtown, which is popular among athletic travelers who enjoy jogging or boating. You’ll find 13.3 miles of pathways that encircle the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis. People are out enjoying both land and water, while roller-blading across the Stone arch Bridge or paddle boarding down the river. This area is really a gem for natural beauty, having fresh lakes, trails, woods and the Mississippi River.
Another interesting attraction in Minneapolis is the Mill City Museum, which was once the largest mill in the U.S. Today you can see how they produced old school flour with period style equipment and railroad cars. Ride the glass elevator from the Mill Ruins park to the top of this iconic museum. Visit the Cedar Cultural Center, which hosts more than 150 concerts, dances and community events every year.
Saint Paul on the other hand has an alluring history of notorious gangsters and whiskey runners that were part of the lawlessness of the 1930’s. The city was once home to infamous bank robbers and kidnappers like John Dillinger, Babyface Nelson and the Barker gang. You can take a tour of where the gangsters once lived and plotted their notorious crimes. The Wabasha Caves are also a great attraction in the Twin City area, these are actual caves that were transformed into an underground speakeasy known as the “Castle Royal.”
The Twin Cities have an abundance of art! A few attractions to mention are the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the largest urban sculpture parks in the country and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The Sculpture Garden is an 11 acre park developed jointly by the Walker Museum and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Within the Sculpture garden you can find over 36 larger than life size sculptures. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has 80,000 works of art that span more than 5,000 years, this is the place to go if you’re an art lover. You can find sculptures, photographs, paintings, drawings, textiles and prints from all over the world. Also worth mentioning, is the Frederick R Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, which is a museum focusing on American art from the early 20th century to the present.
Please do not fear the cold! The Twin Cities are well prepared for cold weather, having The Minneapolis Skyway System, which is an interlinked collection of enclosed pedestrian footbridges. The road crews are well prepared for snow and removal starts as soon as the snow falls. There is cross country skiing through the many parks, ice skating and ice hockey, and the city of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival. What’s more fun than building snow sculptures or enjoying the luminarias in ice sculptures? Join in any number of ski races, fat tire snow biking, crew skiing with 6 men teams on 25 foot long skis or skijoring, which is skiing behind either a dog or horse on a leash! Head Southwest of Minneapolis to the Eden Prairie Ice castles for a magical day. Winter doesn’t slow anyone down in the twin cities. Winter is a wonderland experience in Minnesota.
For more information about the GreatAuPair J-1 visa program, visit www.greataupairusa.com or call 800.604.2507 to speak with a GreatAuPair representative & request a free host family application. Au pairs call 1-775-636-8302, or contact us on skype at greataupair.com.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Salt Lake City, Utah truly is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground! With an abundance of parks, playgrounds, hiking trails and four ski resorts (with the “Greatest Snow on Earth”) all within 35 minutes of the city, activities are limitless. The city is brimming with museums, zoo, aviary, aquarium, gardens, shopping, farmers markets, gallery strolls and festivals.
Summer offers $5 concerts in the park downtown for the Twilight Concert Series, the Utah Arts Festival and Oktoberfest at the Snowbird Ski Resort. Park City is only a 30 minute drive into the beautiful Wasatch mountain range and offers Utah Olympic Park where visitors can bobsled or zip line. You don’t want to miss the famous Sundance Film Festival.
Salt Lake City also has an amazing global culinary scene with restaurants serving food from many cultures. A fantastic public transportation system, Trax, is available to take you anywhere within the city you need to go. For sports fanatics, the Utah Jazz, AAA Bee’s Baseball, University of Utah Ute’s football and our MLS team Reãl can all be enjoyed within city limits.
Salt Lake City is the ultimate family friendly city and is a wonderful place to live and play! For more information about the GreatAuPair J-1 visa program, visit www.greataupairusa.com or call 800.604.2507 to speak with a GreatAuPair representative & request a free host family application. Au pairs call 1-775-636-8302.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Dear Au Pairs,
Welcome to the USA and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area! In this area you get three very different towns for the price of one. I have lived in Chapel Hill for the past five years, and I love it. The weather is mild, and the people are down home Southern friendly. There is always something going on and plenty to see and do.
Chapel Hill is home to the University of North Carolina and the Tar Heels. UNC is a renowned university with an excellent medical system and hospital. Chapel Hill is a vibrant university community with just the right mix of a small town feel along with the diversity of the world. There are many shops, cafes, restaurants and night spots as well.
Right next to Chapel Hill is the town of Carrboro. Carrboro is a very ‘hip’ town that is artsy, and it is considered a part of the Chapel Hill community…so much so that the area is often referred to as “Chapelboro.” Every year in September, Carrboro has an amazing free music festival where you can wander the streets of the town and see many local musicians and bands perform…all for free!
Raleigh is home to the North Carolina State University Wolfpack. “State” is known for its veterinary school and engineering programs. Basketball reigns in this area, and there is an intense rivalry between all of the universities. Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina. In Raleigh, you will find the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, which has three theaters. It is also the home of the Carolina Ballet. Across from the performing arts center is one of Raleigh’s five entertainment districts, Fayetteville Street, with restaurants, shops and an ice skating rink. Raleigh is divided up into five different districts, each with it’s own unique flavor. In addition to Fayetteville Street, there is the Capital District (location of the state government and museums) Glenwood South (trendy restaurants) the quaint Moore Square (an historic area of Raleigh with shops and restaurants) and the Warehouse District (an entertainment complex).
Durham or “Durm” as it is pronounced (you will see bumper stickers around town instructing you on this fact) has an entirely different feel or vibe than Raleigh and Chapel Hill. While Chapel Hill/Carrboro is intellectual and artsy and Raleigh is sleek and upscale, Durham is edgy and trendy. It is home to the entertainment complex of the American Tobacco Campus, Durham Performing Arts Center and (of course) the Duke University Blue Devils. Duke is another world class university and medical institution and hospital system. You will also find Durham Bulls baseball here (and if you have ever watched the movie Bull Durham you will appreciate this). Also, not to be missed, is the beautiful and truly amazing, Duke Gardens, located on the Duke University campus.
Not only are there three well-known universities here, but there are also others you may or may not have heard of, such as Shaw University, Meredith College, St Augustine College, William Peace College, and North Carolina Central University. Durham Tech and Wake Tech are great community colleges that are good places for au pairs to take some of their courses. Durham tech offers free ESL courses that count for the 6 credits that au pairs must take for their J-1 program.
The Raleigh-Durham area is often referred to as the Triangle Area. This is because it is home to Research Triangle Park (RTP). RTP is a huge campus that houses a plethora of technology, science and biotech companies and other types of businesses, and as you might guess, is a major draw for employment in the area. RTP brings in people from all over the world to work in the various businesses and companies housed on its campus. It is literally shaped like a triangle and the cities of Raleigh and Durham and the town of Chapel Hill make up the points of the triangle.
Durham owes much of its wealth and history to tobacco. The city has since changed its motto from “City of Tobacco” to City of Medicine. Located halfway between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the pristine beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, both areas offer excellent opportunities to explore nature.
The museum of Life and Sciences has fascinating exhibits, where you can turn your motions into sounds, explore weather, design contraptions or flying objects, find creepy crawlies at the insectarium or get out into nature crossing rope bridges and exploring eight creative and unique tree houses.
There are so many events and festivals all around town that they are too numerous to list. Like I said in the beginning, there is always something going on, and nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina! You are going to love it here, start your application today.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
The city of Atlanta has endless energy, big-city sophistication and warm Southern hospitality. Atlanta is a favorite destination among au pairs, visitors and those who call it home. Atlanta invites you to indulge in International cuisine, sample some of the best shopping in the South, enjoy the ever-growing list of events and festivals and create a cultural experience while reliving history and so much more.
If you’re interested in drama, Atlanta offers amazing theaters that regularly premiere shows before they head to Broadway in New York City! If art is more your style, Atlanta has a list of incredible museums you’ll want to explore. You will even encounter vibrant murals throughout the neighborhoods. However, to really understand the magnitude of the Living Walls project, you’ll want to set out on a quest to find as many as you can.
The city has multiple pro sports teams who call Atlanta home. American sporting events are an exciting experience! You can even stay late for a beautiful fireworks show at the end of the baseball games!
Buford Highway has a 30 mile stretch where you can experience appetizing international cuisine ranging from Mexican taquerias; Sichuan, Cantonese, and other regional Chinese cuisines; Korean bakeries and barbecue joints; Vietnamese pho parlors; and introductions to Malaysian noodle dishes, Filipino fried chicken, and curry-like Indonesian beef rendang. You can also take a tour or attend events at the Coca-Cola factory!
Atlanta is full of family friendly fun as well! Take a visit to the amazing Atlanta Zoo or the Georgia Aquarium. If you prefer to experience something different, visit after hours for behind-the-scenes tours, music and adult beverages. The aquarium regularly schedules adult/family overnights.
Get out and explore the great outdoors. From parks and public spaces to nature preserves and river activities, there is plenty in Atlanta for the outdoor adventurer. Hike Stone Mountain, paddle down the Chattahoochee river, take the kids to Piedmont Park or take a run on the Atlanta BeltLine. Whatever your taste for adventure or nature, Atlanta has a smorgasbord of foods, cultural events and activities in the great outdoors. Start your application to enjoy Atlanta’s southern hospitality.