I have been a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work since early middle school — specifically, The Hobbit. The book always held a special place in my heart, but when I realized I share a birthday with the titular hobbit Bilbo Baggins, that love grew. Conveniently Bilbo Baggins’ birthday (Sept. 22) is also Hobbit Day — so plan your family trip to celebrate.
While it’s obviously impossible to travel to the fictional world of Middle Earth, it is possible to visit the land where both trilogies filmed, New Zealand.
Options for flying to New Zealand are plentiful, thanks to the more than 20 major carriers serving the island. While a non-stop flight to New Zealand can typically take 12 hours from most places in the world, flying from Europe can take 24 hours. If such a long flight isn’t for your family, consider cruising to New Zealand instead. No matter how you end up getting to the islands, there is plenty of Middle Earth goodness to go around.
New Zealand tourism authorities are not novices to the huge crowds vying to see the closest approximation to Middle Earth. As a result, there are a ton of Tolkien-inspired tour opportunities available.
If you want to specifically tour The Hobbit locations, set your sights on Matamata. This real-world home of the Shire allows visitors to take in all 44 Hobbit holes that made up the scenes. This area also has a restaurant, perfect for a light lunch and drink while touring.
Mangaotaki Valley is another destination in New Zealand central to filming The Hobbit. Anyone familiar with the film will recognize this spot as the set for much of the first one, An Unexpected Journey. This is where the troll campfire scene was filmed and, according to Tourism New Zealand, is the single biggest filming location used in the movie.
If you’re more of an audiophile, make sure to check out Waitomo Caves. These caves were used to record much of the trilogy’s audio. There are walking and rafting tours offered through the caves.
For a look into the Lord of the Rings as well, check out the Weta Cave and Studio, a production company behind much of the trilogies. Although The Hobbit film is more family-friendly, all tours and Lord of the Rings locations are perfect for fantasy-minded families.
In times of stress, boredom and even enjoyment, some of us find ourselves reaching for a treat or two — or a dozen. When you need the crunch or sweetness of a snack, but not all the guilt and remorse to follow, registered dietician Lisa Moskovitz, founder and CEO, New York Nutrition Group, recommends these not-so-bad snacks — they’re also great in kids’ lunches or as after-school snacks!
This summer, family travel at The Peninsula receives an upgrade with the debut of Camp Peninsula, a children’s experience that recreates the spirit of camping right in the heart of Beverly Hills. The journey begins with a special welcome from Peter Bear, the hotel’s lovable mascot, at check-in. After taking a picture with the life-sized teddy bear, kids will be whisked away by a Peninsula Camp Counselor to a luxurious guestroom where a charming teepee awaits. An afternoon of camp-themed games and activities, including a hotel-wide scavenger hunt, rounds off the family-friendly experience, fun for children of all ages. Whether it’s a luxe staycation or an extended holiday, Camp Peninsula is an ideal way to ensure the little ones are happy campers.
Whether the young adults or young professionals in your life are heading back to school, the office or some new version of normal, sending them off with something thoughtful is always in style. Check this list for something your loved one (or yourself) can use to ease out of the house with style.
By Hainan Airlines
Ever since travel began picking back up and travelers started returning to the skies, Delta Air Lines has blocked the middle seat option on all flights, and limited the number of passengers per flight. Delta Air Lines announced it will continue blocking the middle seat and limiting travelers through at least Jan. 6, 2021. Delta is hoping this extension will make individuals, groups and families more comfortable flying over the holidays.