Five places to take your kids this summer

(That aren't bacteria-infested water parks)

When I was seven or eight, the water park was my sanctuary. The big slides, the tube rides, the overpriced junk food — all of it. But as I grew older, my perceptions did too. I began to see the soggy tissues on the ground, the number of parents who told their children to "just go in the pool" and the number of times I had to swipe my card for snacks.

But don't get me wrong, the rides are still fun. It's just that the rest of it isn't. So if you're like me and don't want to get a staph infection anytime soon, here's a list of five destinations to take your kids that'll make you happy too.

A boardwalk beach

If your kid is adamant on being in the water, why not try something nature actually intended? Pack some sunscreen and hit a beach town for a fun weekend with kids of all ages. Try an AirBnB if hotels aren't in your budget and bring a TON of snacks — maybe some beer for the adults, too.

Try to find a beach with a boardwalk or an amusement park. When your children are bored with the ocean or when it gets too dark to go in, the boardwalk is a perfect place to explore — and tucker them out for non-fussy bedtime.

A non-Disney theme park

Disney is the last place you want to be in the summer. Between the sweaty bodies, crying babies and 100 degree temperature, it'd be a nightmare rather than a vacation. Try something like Six Flags or Boomers! or even the local fair that's traveling through your town.

A helpful tip is to go on a day where it rains in the morning, but clears up in the afternoon. Sure, you'll deal with a light mist when you first get there, but by late morning, the sun will be out and there'll be virtually no lines.

New York City (or any major city)

Places like NYC, LA or Boston are so commonly visited that they must have something that captures interest. Take your kids to Rockefeller Center, the Bronx Zoo or Coney Island in NYC. Times Square alone has the M&M store, Madame Tussauds and numerous cartoon characters to take pictures with.

In LA, be sure to visit the Santa Monica Pier, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign. Boston has less attractions, but main points include the Children's Museum, the New England Aquarium and really anything historical.

For less obvious cities, try Saint Paul, New Orleans and Portland.

Themed road trip

Load the kids up in the car — or RV — for a trip across the country! Road trips were always fun for me as a kid from singing along to CD's, looking out the window and eating snacks in the car. There doesn't have to be a set destination — it may even be a loop. The main point is to have your whole family in cozy quarters and having fun.

Make your road trip themed for that extra "oomph." Make your rest stops different national parks or landmarks. It may seem cheesy and your kids might take a little while to get into it but it'll make one hell of a photo album.

Unique cruises

Okay, so cruises probably have pools and hot tubs in them which we were trying to avoid, but not all of them have to be noisy Carnival joyrides on route to Miami. Try instead some unique destinations like Alaska, Russia or Canada's Inside Passage. Instead of just going to casino night and binging at the buffet, you can actually gain some worldly experience while culturing your kids.

I personally prefer some of the more unique vacations on this list because it'll make you and your children a bit more open minded and liberal with your experiences. Trying new things is an important skill to teach young kids that perhaps some adults haven't even learned yet.

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10 Endangered Animals to Weep Over

Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.



SPONSORED

Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

Food & Drink

The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.