Archive for the ‘Activities for Kids’ Category

San Diego – Amazing Hidden Gem of California!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

With its miles of glorious beaches, ideal year-round weather and countless cultural and historical attractions, San Diego is one of the most visited cities in the world! If you’re on the fence about where to spend your program year, here are some of the top reasons to choose San Diego.


Balboa Park:

Like no place else in the country, Balboa Park offers a magnificent combination of art, architecture, history and agriculture all in one park. From wonderful concerts featuring the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, The Spreckels Organ, to tours through science, art and history museums, a day spent in Balboa Park is an unforgettable experience.

 

Coronado Island:

On the beautiful island of Coronado, you’ll discover a charming collection of shops, art galleries, fine restaurants and fun eateries surrounded by tree lined walkways, swaying palms and sparkling ponds. Across the bay is one of the best views of downtown San Diego. Developed 130 years ago as a haven for the rich and famous, this oceanfront community maintains an air of luxury. Admire the mansions, Duchess of Windsor Cottage and the Museum of History and Art, which highlights the relaxed and enriching atmosphere on the island.

 

Torrey Pines State Reserve:

Named after the Torrey Pine tree, this reserve is just north of La Jolla and is a lovely place to see indigenous wildlife in its native environment. With more than eight miles of trails, you can explore the serenity of Torrey Pines in the same atmosphere as the first settlers to California. Take a hike to Blacks Beach, popular with surfers. The Torrey Pines Gliderportoh is the only place on the west coast for visitors to go paragliding and hang-gliding.

San Diego Zoo:

One of the world’s most famous zoos, the San Diego Zoo offers hours of fascinating entertainment for people of all ages. Of the several thousand animals that live in the zoo, you’ll have an opportunity to see everything from Giant Pandas and Polar Bears to the Tasmanian Devil and African Wild Dogs—and so much more. The many hundreds of species include rare amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles and insects that come from all over the world and are cared for in their natural habitats. As you walk through the lush pathways and thriving gardens that frame the zoo, keep in mind that much of the flora are exotic plants and vegetation. Spend an afternoon or the whole day and gain an understanding of the many beautiful animals that inhabit our world.

 

Gaslamp quarter: 

The heart of downtown San Diego is the historic Gaslamp Quarter. It’s a fun and busy area where you can find: shops, galleries, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theaters, sporting arenas, conferences, concerts, Comic-Con and more. Head towards Horton Plaza’s outdoor shopping mall to find the likes of Macy’s, Victoria Secret and Claire’s or enjoy the baseball game at Petco Park.

 

Children’s Pool Sea Lions:

Another famous San Diego attraction is Children’s pool where you can observe seals and sea lions in their natural habitat. Silly, loud, ultra-lovable, and a little smelly, they are sure to bring a toothy smile to your face. Sea lions are often compared to being the dogs of the sea for a good reason. After all, they are smart, playful, and newborns are even called pups. They capitalize on San Diego coastline as prime real estate, colonizing rocky and sandy beaches during nesting season.

 

Beautiful Beaches:

San Diego is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. There are 70 miles of shoreline and a diverse selection of beaches to explore. If you like surfing, you’ll be in heaven; if you prefer getting lost in your thoughts on a secluded sandy stretch, you’ll also be in heaven. From La Jolla and Mission to Coronado and Pacific Beach, there’s a beach for you in San Diego.

 

For more information about the GreatAuPair J-1 visa program, visit www.greataupairusa.com. Families can call 800.604.2507 to speak with a GreatAuPair representative.  Au pairs can call 1-775-636-8302, or contact us on skype at greataupair.com.

 


Washington, DC: Au pairs love our nation’s capital!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

 

WA 1If 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.

 

WA 2One 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.

 

 

WA 3Spectacular 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.

 

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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.

 

 

WA 5Ready 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.

 

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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!


Twin Cities Minnesota, Ultimate Au Pair Destination

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

 

The twin citieMN bridges 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.

 

mn jelly

mn mall of AM

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 mn legolandone 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.

 

MN state partk

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.

 

mn mill museum

 

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.

 

MN caves

 

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.”

 

mn sculpture
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.

 

mn ice

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.

 

mn dog

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.


Why au pairs love Arizona, let me count the ways

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sedona SunsetIf you love the sun and want to live in the desert southwest, with year round sunshine, surrounded by some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the United States, then Arizona is the place to be.

Not only are Phoenix and Tucson packed with fun things to do with children, they’re filled with great young adult activities and incredible places to explore during your free time.

 

az water2

However, you need to be a good swimmer.  Most households in Arizona have a pool to keep cool in the summer heat.  If you’re comfortable in the water you’ll want to take the kids to some of these fabulous water parks:  Big Surf, Flowrider, Grande Resort Oasis, Wet‘n’Wild, and Enchanted Island.

 

 

heard museum

It would also be fun to take the children to explore local Museums, the Science Center, Puppet Theater or the Railroad Park.  There are collections of handmade dolls and Native American crafts at the Heard Museum and pre 1940’s Navajo and Hopi textiles at the Tucson Desert Art Museum.  You can take a ride on the Adobe Mountain Railroad. Visit the Science Center for interactive games and sports or for those under 8, visit Imagination Avenue, a kid sized town.

 

 

az childrens museum

You could spend the day at the children’s museum and walk through the Noodle Forest or the Rock n Roll ball room, or head out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to see a zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden all in one. There are over 40,000 plants representing 1,200 species as well as a gem, mineral, and fossil collection.

 

az rawhide

 

Visit Rawhide Western Town for gun fights and stunt shows, or head to Tombstone southeast of Tucson, where some of the biggest legends of the Old West originated – Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and the gunfight at the OK Corral. You can stay at local hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, go on horseback, stagecoach and wagon train tours. There are gunfight shows, monuments, some intriguing museums and historic buildings to view.

 

 

 

 

The I.D.E.A. Museum has something for kids of every age, with interactive areas to learn and develop your creativity.   Build something out of recycled materials or play in the glow in the dark blacklight room. For older kids, Airworx is a trampoline park that sponsors dodge ball tournaments.  Xtreme Pursuit is a paintball facility where they can run off that extra energy or play laser tag at the Laser Quest facility. Your future firemen won’t want to miss the Hall of Fame Fire Museum and everyone will enjoy Out of Africa Wildlife Park.

az music

 

 

 

In your free time, you’ll love the Music and art scene in Phoenix.  From the Arizona Jazz Festival, Artwalk on Thursday evenings, the Musical Instrument museum to the Phoenix Art Museum, you’ll never run out of exciting outings.  The world-class Jazz Festival is in Tucson in January, followed by the Folk Festival in May.

 

 

az window shopping

 

If you’re a fashionista or love to shop, there are outlet malls, Scottsdale fashion square, Kierland commons and the Biltmore Fashion Park.  If your tastes are more eclectic and artsy, visit the American Park n’Swap, or Mesa Swap Meet.  Those into food, art and wine will find unlimited year round events put on by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance.

 

 

monument valleyPhoenix and Tucson are surrounded by some of the most beautiful and unique country in the United States. Countless western films were shot in Monument Valley, and the Grand Canyon in Flagstaff is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ is a natural slot canyon, and a photographer’s dream.

 

Rafting Grand Canyon

No trip to Arizona would be complete without visiting the red rocks in Sedona.  Sedona is famous for its incredible hiking trails.  You may want to visit Hoover dam at Lake Powell, rent a boat and paddle to the Rainbow Bridge, a natural rock arch.  If you’re adventurous, take a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River.

 

az chiricahua

 

 

 

Visit Anisazi cliff dwelling ruins at Mummy Cave in Canyon De Chelly, or head to the Chiricahua national monument south of Tucson to enjoy hiking and rock climbing.

       

 

tucson bird

 

 

Saguaro National Park is part of the Sonoran Desert, and extends east and west of Tucson. It features saguaro or candelabra cactuses, desert flora and fauna and hiking trails.  There is so much more to do and see in Arizona, we just can’t list it all in a short post.

 

 

phoenix4

 

If you love the outdoors and are fascinated by art, photography, Native American culture, the Wild West and natural wonders, Arizona is a fabulous place to live and work as an au pair. Complete your application today, so you can be on your way to sunny Arizona.

 

 


How To Keep Kids Busy During the Summer

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

            For most children across the world, school is out, and they can hardly wait for the summer fun to begin! If you’ve been hired as a summer nanny, or if the children you watch year-round are out of school for the summer, the parents will expect you keep their children occupied and safe. While an occasional movie or trip to the library is an option, there are lots of other things to do in the summer! Here are some of GreatAuPair’s tips to keeping everyone safe and happy this summer!

Play-dates:

           If you are watching school-aged children, you may notice them missing their school friends as the summer continues on. Set up a few play-dates where they can get together and socialize! Ask the parents and children for a few phone numbers of school friends, and give them a call. Make sure not to agree to watch more children than you can handle, and always get permission from the parents before agreeing to invite over someone’s else’s children.

Plant a Garden:

 Gardening is a great outdoors activity for children to take part in. Not only is it fun, it’s a confidence-booster to children that get to see their hard work pay off! Try planting some easy-to-grow crops first, like sunflowers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, and lettuce. Kids will be eager to see results, and you can make the garden a part of their daily summer routine. What a fun way to spend time outdoors!

Go to the Park:

           School-aged children are used to keeping busy with their daily routines, so they’re likely to have a lot of energy, even in the summer. Why not take them to the park? Always be sure to supervise them playing on the playground. Bring along a few snacks and always pack plenty of water to make sure the children stay hydrated in the summer heat. Be sure and pack a first aid kit, to clean up any scrapes or cuts!

Arts and Crafts:

           Sometimes, it’s just too hot to play outside. Why not enjoy part of the day inside with some arts and crafts? You can do fun things with the kids like make tie-dye shirts, finger-paint, create fabric necklaces and bracelets, or even put on a play with hand-made masks and costumes. Try Pinterest for more ideas on different arts and crafts activities you can do with the children.

Get in the Water:

If you have a pool nearby, or even in the backyard, you’re one lucky nanny! If you don’t, and the beach is too far away, why not check out your local recreation center, (YMCA or Boys and Girls Club) to see if they have a community pool? Swimming and playing in the water is great way to conquer the summer heat.

It’s extremely important to always keep an eye on the children when they’re in the water. If you’re at a community pool with a lifeguard, don’t assume that they will always have their eyes on the children. It’s your responsibility! Going swimming and getting to play in the water is a great summer activity the children will enjoy, but only if you’re comfortable watching children in the water. Don’t forget sunblock, towels and floaties. 

Zoo/Aquarium:

           If you have a zoo or aquarium nearby, why not take the kids there for the day? Pack a light lunch and plenty of drinks, and head out for a day of exploring! Younger children will appreciate looking at the animals from their strollers or your arms, while an older child will enjoy a more-hands on approach. Sometimes, these places provide exhibits that allow visitors to feed or touch the animals. Look to see if there is a petting zoo exhibit open. Challenge the kids to mimic the sounds of the animals and have a great time! It’s best to go on a weekday when it’s less crowded.

Museums:

           Museums are a great way to avoid the heat and spend time indoors. If you have a Children’s museum in your area, take the kids there to have some hands-on playtime. You can also visit a local art or science museum. Call in advance and ask if they have any activities planned for children. Some museums have special exhibits centered around children during the summer. Always keep a close eye on the children!

No matter what you decide to do, be sure to keep you and the children safe and hydrated. Have a great summer!