Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Do you want to live where most Americans only dream they could live? Islands ranging from a tropical climate, to snow skiing on the Big Islands 14 thousand foot peaks, Hawaii is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world and seems too good to be true! If steady warm weather and only 90 rainy days per year is what you prefer, Honolulu is for you!
You have six beautiful islands to explore. Each inhabited island has a different pace and culture, ranging from the city life of Honolulu on Oahu, to the largely native culture on Molokai. Where else in the United States can you both swim in warm water, snow ski and visit a volcano all in one day?
Honolulu offers a wide range of land and water based activities including sports, swimming, surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, camping, hiking, mountain biking, and even snow skiing or snowboarding. A popular magazine named Honolulu the “fittest” city in the United States. The city offers year round activities such as Great Aloha Run, Honolulu Marathon, and Honolulu Triathlon.
Although Honolulu has no professional sports teams, it does have three venues for spectator sports such as baseball, basketball and volleyball at: Les Murakami Stadium, Neal Blaisdell Center Arena, Stan Sheriff Center and Aloha Stadium.
How about a relaxing day at the beach? Waikiki is a beachfront neighborhood of Honolulu, located on the south shore of the island of Oahu. It was once a retreat only for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800’s. Today, the area is filled with large resort hotels and hosts many events each year, including surf competitions, outdoor performances, hula dancing and outrigger canoe races.
Help the kids find Nemo at Waikiki Aquarium! Listen for the extremely vocal Common Mynah bird at Foster Botanical garden, Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden, or Walker Estate!
How about a day with your host family visiting the Honolulu Zoo? There are over 1,230 animals to see! Afterward, take a ride on Waikiki Trolley to see the sites throughout Waikiki, Honolulu and East Oahu; or plan to stay for a Snooze at the Zoo. Yes, they schedule overnight camping with activities – imagine the sounds of the animals during the night!
Do you like natural history? The Bishop Museum displays the state’s largest collection of natural history specimens and the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific culture artifacts.
Head to the Ke’anae Arboretum and botanical garden, to see the most colorful and unique trees on the planet. The bark of the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree changes color as it sheds, so no two are ever alike and each is constantly changing. You can drive along the Hana Highway west of Maui to see them or visit the arboretum for free.
If shopping is your passion then you are in for a treat! Ala Moana in Honolulu is the largest mall in Hawaii and the 7th largest shopping mall in the United States with a total area of 2,100,000 square feet! Make sure you wear your walking shoes!
Diamond Head Theater is dubbed the “Broadway of the Pacific” and is the oldest performing arts center where music lovers go to enjoy live theater.
Honolulu Museum of Art is the largest of its kind in the state, with over 50,000 works of art and is housed in First Hawaiian Center, the tallest building in Hawaii. You can enjoy two cafés, gardens, films and concerts at the theater as well as take a studio art class or workshop. Some events and certain days offer free admission to all.
Want to work on a language? The Hawaii Japanese School – Rainbow Gakuen holds its classes in Kaimuki Middle School in Honolulu, serving overseas Japanese nationals. In addition, Honolulu has other weekend programs for the Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish languages.
No matter what you love to do, it’s impossible not to have fun here and create life long memories with your new host family! Come see what Honolulu has to offer!
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Dallas (or DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth as its most commonly known) is actually a group of several large & small cities and towns that make up one of the most diverse areas of Texas.
Fort Worth started out as a railroad and cattle town and still retains much of the ‘cowboy’ culture today. In addition to its zoo and arboretum, the Fort Worth Stockyards and rodeo are major tourism draws and a great way to spend a day or weekend. This is where you will find the “wild west”.
Dallas, or the “Big D” is home to some of the best shopping, dining, arts, culture and history in the state. You can spend an afternoon with your host family at the Perot Museum where they feature activities for children, teens and families or enjoy a weekend at the Dallas Zoo. The Dallas Arboretum is a dream in the spring where you can take a picnic and enjoy live music amongst the thousands of tulips. Dallas also has several farmers markets, museums, and sculpture gardens so there is never a shortage of things to do!
If shopping is your thing, there are several malls and outlet malls as well as vintage shops and craft festivals.
Weekends in and around DFW are always filled with options. In the spring, there are farmers markets, baseball (both professional and minor league), art festivals, a St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Greenville Ave, food and wine festivals (Greek Fest, Taste of Addison, Chocolate Festival, and much more). In the summer there are several water parks, lakes, Six Flags of Texas, and tons of shopping. 4th of July offers KaBoomtown in Addison, and fireworks in almost every town!
In the fall and winter, you can’t miss Oktoberfest in Addison, the Balloon Festival in Plano, train rides in Grapevine, Texas football games, or countless other activities.
Dallas is a 4 hour drive from Austin or San Antonio, and 6-7 hours to Houston, so weekend trips are a must! Austin has a great music and art scene and is our state capital. San Antonio is home of the Alamo, and the world famous Riverwalk, and Houston is close to Galveston, the beach, NASA and Moody Gardens nature museum.
Complete your application today, so we can match you with our friendly Dallas/Ft Worth host families!