If your kids are anything like my kids, they love birthdays! And they will talk about their birthday all year long. The invitation to a friend's birthday will start a whole new passion for their own upcoming birthday - that is really 6 months away! Jaidyn will talk about what theme her birthday will be, who she will invite, and where she will have it. And it changes with the weather!
This year, about a month before her 7th birthday, Jaidyn made a very surprising choice. She did not want to have a big birthday party with a Star Wars theme (which was the theme she had recently landed on). Instead she wanted to go on a family vacation! (A girl after my own heart ;-)
We discussed different ideas and finally decided on Santa's Village, in Jefferson New Hampshire. We had been 2 years before and had enjoyed it then, and it was just about a 5 hour drive from where we live, which is about all I can take in a car with three kids.
After doing a little research on the Santa's Village website, which is great, by the way, we discovered that if you tell them in advance that a child is celebrating a birthday, they go the extra mile to make sure it is special. When you get there, let the person in the ticket sale window know about the birthday guest. They will give them a sticker to wear, that has their name pre-printed on it.
Employees who saw Jaidyn's birthday sticker wished her a happy birthday. When we went into the Polar Theatre, the employee had the entire audience sing "Happy Birthday" to her. At the end of our day we stopped in to see Santa and he had a special gift just for Jaidyn. All of this was at no extra cost. The only downside was that poor little Addy didn't quite understand why her big sister was getting so much extra attention, and when Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas this year, she replied "a birthday." Of course, in the fashion of every little child, she has been talking about her birthday all summer, and how she wants to go to Santa's Village. I shiver just thinking about it because her birthday is in January!
Overall, we love this theme park for a family trip with small children. It is clean, which is huge on my list. It is easy to get around and the grounds are beautifully maintained with gorgeous flowers. All the rides are appropriate for young children, so if you have an older child who enjoys thrill rides, they may not be so thrilled. Unless of course they like watersides. A fairly new attraction to to the park is the water play area. There are two big slides as well as two little slides and even a baby area! Its perfect for cooling down on a hot day. For unprepared parents, the gift shop sells towels, suits and swim diapers. But we were prepared - this time - two years before Jaidyn left in wet clothes!
My favorite part of the park is meeting Santa's Reindeer. I really had never seen actual reindeer and they are so cute! For a little extra you can buy them food and feed them by hand.
Human food at the park is reasonably priced with many healthy options, but there are also many areas to sit and open up your cooler packed with snacks and sandwiches.
If you get there when they open, or shortly after, one day is really all you need. Lines are not bad, at least they weren't the weekend when we went, and if you have a couple days in New Hampshire, you might want to bring the family on a short hike or drive up Mt. Washington.
We stayed at The Royalty Inn, just as we had our previous visit. We liked it because it has an indoor, heated pool, which many of the area motels do not, and all rooms had a fridge and microwave, at no extra cost. Also, coffee in the lobby every morning was a plus for tired mommy! We did not, however, like the restaurant next door. The food was greasy and the dining area was in the same open room as the very rowdy bar, which I would not expose my children to. I ordered food to go and we ate at one of the tables next to the outdoor pool.
In two years I plan on bringing everyone up to New Hampshire again, maybe enjoy some of the other area attractions, maybe do a little camping and hiking. Use the Santa's Village website to plan your trip. It lists all types of places to stay or camp.
1. Pack entertainment bags for each kid for the long car ride.
2. Try to plan the car ride to include at least one nap time.
3. A movie in the car, your phone, or a portable DVD player goes a long way, so make sure all batteries are fully charged.
4. Plan on taking a stretch break every two hours.
5. Plan games to play in the car with your kids, when naps are had and movies are over. We like to play eye spy. Singing is fun too. For a minute.
If you have ideas for long car rides I would love for you to add them in the comment box. I am not so good with the long car rides, I tend to go coo coo before the kids do!
6. For Santa's Village pack waters for everyone, swim stuff and maybe a picnic lunch.