Western US

Universal Studios Hollywood: 10 Insider Tips for the Park and Wizarding World

Things just got a little more magical at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In case the end of a long day at Universal Studios ever felt like it needed an extra something to send everyone off with a smile, the theme park has added a new lights display for the summer, Christmastime, and certain other holidays. Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle is a dazzling and delightful light show projected on and around Hogwarts Castle, accompanied by John Williams' familiar score and narration by the Sorting Hat. This goes way beyond pyrotechnics, creating a breathtaking effect that is definitely worth hanging around until nightfall to see—just like it's worth hanging around to the end of our list of insider tips for our advice on the best way to view it.

Universal is a big park, as your calf muscles will no doubt remind you the day after you visit. While parks like Knott's or Seaworld can be approached with a devil-may-care, keep-your-stinkin'-map sort of spontaneity, Universal's size is better served by a plan. Consider including these ten tips when you form yours.

8 SoCal Campgrounds with Extra Entertainment To Keep Kids Happy

Camping with kids is a smorgasbord of sights and sounds, loaded with opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Hiking and biking, telling stories fireside, and unplugging from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives is good for the soul; but let’s face it, even with the whole of Mother Nature at their fingertips, kids sometimes get bored.

It’s time to up the ante on family camping, and you don’t have to ditch the tent to inject a bit of pep in your sulking teen’s step or enchant your tantrum-prone three year old. Southern California is home to several awesome family campgrounds that offer kids exciting alternative activities and entertainment when they tire of forest tag. Zip lining, anyone? Fishing? Rock climbing? Movies? Even ghost tours? All these and more are offered at the Southland campgrounds below. Get ready for the best of both worlds, cause we dare your kids to get bored at one of these campgrounds.

Disneyland Tips: 12 Hacks You Need To Know

Whether you're a Disneyland passholder who can collect Fastpasses in your sleep or a hanger back who hasn't visited the park since there were E Tickets, there's always more you can learn about making the Happiest Place on Earth easier to navigate. And speaking of E tickets, this summer is a particularly great time for nostalgia buffs to pay a visit to The Mouse, as the old Main Street Electrical Parade stages a return every night through August 20, 2017. I'm no pushover, but I confess I grinned from ear to ear throughout the delightful display of throwback light-up floats. 

It's a lot easier to grin, of course, when you have a game plan, so here are a dozen tips you might not know that can make a day in Disney a whole lot happier. And if you're looking to eat outside the park, check out these 8 restaurants near Disneyland, but not in it.

10 Tips for Last Minute Yellowstone National Park Accommodations

The word is that if you want to visit the popular national parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon you have to plan a year in advance because the accommodations get booked up.

When we decided to take a last minute cross country drive last summer, I thought we might have to skip Yellowstone. In a panic, I started looking into how to get accommodations about a week before our arrival. Sure enough, all the rooms were booked for the two nights we wanted to stay in the park. But, in the end, it all worked out and we had an amazing stay. It was definitely worth it. Read on for my best tips for booking last minute accommodations at Yellowstone and other national parks.

Anza-Borrego Desert: Discovering California's Largest State Park

Nestled in the southeast corner of the state, California’s largest state park, the Anza-Borrego Desert, is just a three hour drive from Los Angeles, and in spring it shimmers with vibrant hues of green, purple, red, blue, and yellow. From slot canyons to scenic streams and rocky hills, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s 600,000 acres have burst forth from the drought with a dramatic, weekend-getaway-worthy superbloom that everyone is talking about.

Carlsbad: 25 Things To Do with Kids (other than Legoland)

Legoland? Who said anything about Legoland? Carlsbad may appear at first glance to be a one-trick town, but there are at least 25 reasons for this Southern California excursion, without ever using the word LEGO. The beach community's mild year-round temps, pristine beaches, and slow, laid-back approach to living offer families much more than just a famous amusement park.

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