There’s something of a fairy-land nature about Venice, where everything is a bit magic. The streets are made of water, the buildings are bright colors, stone-edged windows curve in wavy shapes, women in elaborate Baroque costumes stand in front of fanciful buildings, men propelling boats break into song as they float past — it sometimes seems to kids like a giant fun-house.
While the city is magic for all ages, experiencing so much that’s new can be overwhelming for little kids. Bring them into the fascinating story that’s Venice by giving them some interesting things to look for as you tour.
Lions are everywhere — carved over doorways, pictured on flags, in pairs guarding entrances, standing atop pillars, pictured in paintings. Make finding them a treasure hunt and see who can spot the most. Begin by taking pictures of little kids sitting on the well-worn lion in the little square beside St Mark’s Basilica (at the side farthest from the water). Generations of Venetian and visiting children have been pictured there.
A walk around the vast square will turn up a good start for their collection — one on the clock tower, one high on a pillar overlooking the Grand Canal, more on the Doge’s Palace and Basilica. Scarves and banners in the souvenir stands add to the count. With that as a head-start, go in any direction and they’re sure to spot more. A lion with wings is the symbol of St. Mark, Venice’s patron saint, and older kids may be interested to learn they can tell whether Venice was at war or at peace when the winged lion was carved. If it holds an open book under its paw, they were at peace. The book is closed when Venice was at war.
Kids will be fascinated by the masks they see everywhere, from feathered and sequined or harlequin eye-masks to full-face clowns and masks with bird-like bills. You’ll see them in shop windows and souvenir stands, but a visit to a mask-maker will fascinate kids. They can watch as the ornate masks are painted and decorated. Look in the narrow streets of San Polo, beyond Rialto Bridge, for studios like TragiComica, where there are often mask-makers at work and the staff is especially child-friendly. Masks are a good souvenir and light to carry. At Ca’ Macana, near Campo San Barnaba in Dorsoduro, kids can really get into mask-making and paint their own to take home. You’ll need to reserve ahead for a class.
While in Campo San Barnaba, don’t miss Signor Blum, a corner shop filled with beautiful wooden puzzles. Most of these colorful creations have larger interlocking pieces designed as toys, but smaller animals and charming rows of Venetian houses make attractive decorator pieces — also easy to carry home. Moored just outside is a little floating grocery store piled with fruits and vegetables, an only-in-Venice sight our kids loved. It started them on a lively contest to find other unusual uses for boats — including a hearse, an ambulance and a gondola carrying a wedding party.
A trip by Vaporetto to the island of Murano is an adventure of its own, and once there children can watch glass-blowers turn lumps of bright-colored molten glass into beautiful goblets, dishes and vases. You can depend on Venice to provide endless entertainment for kids.
Only the bravest of family travelers should venture to Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights. Every year, Universal Orlando turns into the spookiest place in Florida, if not in the country. On select nights throughout the season, visitors and locals alike can head to the popular amusement park for frights, scares and thrilling adventures. Explore 10 terrifying haunted houses; five scare zones; live entertainment; and themed attractions, food and merchandise.
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
With kids back in school and the grueling temperatures of summer finally behind us, life is starting to get back into the routine of fall. That doesn’t mean, however, that family fun has to stop. Big international trips may not be practical for all family travelers this time of year, but places like South County in Rhode Island offer so many fun things to do for families, a quick trip to this East Coast haven is practically a must.
Take Part in England’s Exmoor Dark Skies Festival Dusk Wildlife Safaris and Children’s Art Competition
Planning a trip to the United Kingdom soon? Time your travel for the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival in Somerset, England, from Oct. 13 to 29. The setting is Exmoor National Park, located within a gorgeous mix of farmland, wild forests, stunning valleys and moorlands in South West England.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
Part of a family who just loves a good scare or ghost story? This fall, wherever your travels might take you, chances are you’ll be near an Omni hotel or resort with a history of haunted sightings and other scary happenings. So, why not learn a bit about where you’re staying to make the experience all the more eerie …