The family that plays together, stays together. For this reason most casinos have kids and teen clubs, a shopping mall and a pool area to keep them busy while the over-21ers partake in games of chance, grown-up live shows and craft cocktails. Foxwoods Casino & Resort, just outside Mystic, Connecticut, and a short drive from New York City and Boston, has a different game making it a worthy stop on a longer road trip or a tidy long weekend vacation for those living nearby.
The resort has a lot of familiar Vegas-style trappings, including the jam-packed Tree House Arcade (with current and classic games and old-school amusements) and the Sugar Factory (the Instagrammable restaurant concept that counts Britney Spears and Drake as fans). However, the overall feel is New England, especially with the selection of restaurants, including Junior’s Deli and Regina’s Pizza. The complex is managed by the Pequot Indian tribe, whose aesthetic and cultural influence can be found throughout.
One of the resort’s most ingenious features is the HighFlyer Zipline, which drops off to the entrance of the Pequot Indian Museum, the world’s largest Native American museum. Think of it as a literal timeline connecting present to past, with epic panorama views of the forest and countryside en route. The state-of-the-art facility covers the Pequot civilization from prehistoric times through the 1637 Pequot War and Colonial times to the present day through a mix of displays, interactive features, short films and life-sized representations of a village, local wildlife, a 1940s home and a 19th-century farmstead.
Back at the casino, you can start a more down-to-earth-exploration of the area by heading to the resort’s own trailhead at the Great Cedar Casino Lobby. Fox paw prints lead out to a choice of trails, based on difficulty and scenery. One of the more relaxed paths leads to the outside exhibits of the Pequot Museum and another to the scenic trail loop behind the landmark Two Trees Inn restaurant. The more challenging Lantern Hill Trail runs up to 500 feet above sea level with views that stretch to the waters of Block Island Sound on a clear day.
Several members of the staff are happy to share information on where they take their own families in Mystic and beyond. Better-known attractions (some incorporated into hotel weekend packages) include the Mystic Aquarium and its Beluga and Roger Troy Peterson Penguin exhibits.
If it rains or gets cold, there are several exciting in-house draws in the complex suitable for kids 10 and older. Foxwoods recently joined forces with Monza World Class Karting to offer guests an authentic racetrack experience through the longest and fastest indoor kart runs ever constructed. The multilevel track features elevation changes and hairpin turns one can conquer through gas-powered, nine-horsepower karts scaled for adults and kids.
Foxwoods’ Hologate delivers immersive sessions plunging players aged 10 and older into a variety of different “worlds,” ranging from battlefields with zombies, robots and dragons to a good, old-fashioned New England snowball fight. The advanced graphic technology provides a realistic environment with zero motion sickness. When the kids are on their own having fun or are done for the day, the adults can get back in touch with their inner kid at Topgolf Swing Suite. They can watch major games in progress on several large televisions or test their skills in virtual golf, baseball, basketball or hockey and fuel up with gourmet pizzas, bar bites, craft beers and cocktails.
The High Rollers Luxury Lanes & Sports Lounge, meanwhile, upgrades one of America’s favorite all-ages indoor pastimes with dressed-up lanes and fancy comfort foods, such as Philly cheesesteak spring rolls with a warm cheese sauce and spicy ketchup, white cheddar tater tots and a creative spin on cheeseburger pizza.
Don’t expect Turin to fit your image of Italy. It’s Italian, all right — the evening passeggiata and a love of good food and wine are alive and well. But you’ll look in vain for medieval cobbled streets, crumbling castles and works by Michelangelo (who never set foot here). Instead, although you’ll find some Roman ruins, you’ll also find a faux medieval village, a world-class film museum and a café life that rivals Vienna’s. You and your family will have fun here.
By Hainan Airlines
Time is running out if you’re gift gathering for the travelers on your holiday shopping list. If you still have stockings to fill, here are some fun picks:
Are your kids astronaut wannabes? Or maybe a holiday tradition in your family is to re-watch Macauley Culkin’s Home Alone every year. Either way, the brand new, dual-branded 342-room Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown South Loop and the historic 1928 Whitehall Hotel have packages designed for the little ones in your family.
The Grinch reimaged in intricate ice carvings, superfast indoor snow tubing and a Ferris wheel ride with Santa high above the D.C. area. Sound like fun? You and your family can experience all this and lots more this holiday season at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.