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Have children, will travel.

School is almost out and the children are cranky, listless and bored stiff.

You can't seem to focus on important projects these days and even thumbing through the newspaper requires more energy than you can spare.

There's no need to let the season i n all of its splendor pass you by. Loosen up. shed your winter wear. It's time for you and your family to take time out to enjoy the warm weather and a spectacular getaway filled with the sights, sounds and thrills of summertime fun.

But you won't have to dig too deeply into the family's piggy bank in order to afford the season's best travel buys. American and United airlines offer a number of reasonable packages to popular foreign and domestic destinations far and near. And if you consult with your travel agent well in advance and seek savings on your own, you,re bound to find worthwhile bargains on hotel accommodations, restaurants, car rentals and even amusement park and concert tickets.

You are certain to find that the possibilities are endless when it comes to entertaining your family this season. How about vacationing in the Caribbean where miles upon miles of sandy beaches provide hours of fun in the sun. The Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, St. Martin and the twin-island republic of Trinidad/Tobago all offer visitors a tropical setting full of the best in Caribbean traditions, food and charm.

Closer to home, summertime options abound. You can treat your family to the various activities and events in the Midwest, out East, up North and down South this season. These regions and others offer a variety of historic sites and community festivals sure to spruce up your travel calendar.

But when children are included in your vacation plans, special attention must be paid to details. From the beginning of your vacation to the end, youngsters will want to be entertained. As you shop around for the best accommodations for you and your crew, there are a few questions you may want to keep in mind: Are hotel fees, for example, reduced or free for children under a certain age? Will this particular hotel or resort offer meal packages for the length of your stay? What about the availability of on-site baby-sitting services? You may also want to inquire about available activities in and around your lodging area. By checking ahead of time, you may learn that guided tours and even watersport classes can be added to your total package for a nominal fee, giving both you and your children a fuller vacation experience.

Some airlines will allow you to take advantage of vacation spots across the globe this summer, offering special rates to numerous Caribbean destinations, including the Bahamas, Trinidad/Tobago and St. Martin. Additional packages are also available for many states, including Maryland, Michigan and Louisiana.

Do your travel plans call for a visit out East? There is a whole state's worth of sites to see and things to do in Maryland. All summer long, different cities throughout the state will host a number of festivals and events for the whole family to enjoy, including the African-American Family Funfest on May 20. This cultural extravaganza will feature lively music, dancing, games and other activities full of family fun. If you're in search of a lip-smacking good time, try the Soft Shell Spring Fair in Crisfield on May 25. The fair will include a soft shell crab cooking contest, entertainment, games and local crafts. You may also want to stop by the Seafood Feast-i-val held August 10 in Cambridge. This all-you-can-eat bonanza will include such delights as steamed crabs, homemade crab cakes, crab soup, clams and fish. Youngsters may also want to attend at least one of the state's many strawberry festivals held throughout the summer. But a trip to the Old Line State's Eastern Shore would be incomplete without a visit to such landmark sites as Baltimore's Cab Calloway jazz Institute Museum, the National Aquarium and the Great Blacks in Wax Museum.

History will come to life in a special way in Michigan this. June when the state and the country gear up to celebrate the centennial of the American automobile. The Great lakes State has lots more to offer this summer, too, including Detroit's largest ethnic festival known as African World Festival (August 16 through 18) and the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival to be held August 31 through September 2.

Travel fun and Southern hospitality are in full bloom in the Delta states. Louisiana - the state best known for Mardi Gras, spicy Creole cuisine and the rousing rhythms of jazz, reggae and zydeco - is also brimming with other thrilling elements from the top of the state to the bottom. In Shreveport, La., the let the Good Times Roll Black Arts Festival will offer visitors a good dose of cultural charm June 16 and 17. The city of New Orleans will be the setting for Beggae Riddums June 7 through 9 and the piping-hot Louisiana Soul Food and Heritage Festival to be held in the middle of the month. In August, the African Heritage Festival International will be the main attraction for this popular vacation region, as will the Baton Rouge Blues Festival scheduled for mid-August.

There will be a good helping of well-seasoned fun served with a dash of Southern charm in Mississippi, too. Families can quench hearty appetites at the World Championship Hot Tamale, BBQ & Catfish Cook-off Oil 11 in Greenville, where cooking teams will compete for cash prizes while preparing delicious catfish, hot tamales and barbecue dishes. If music is on your mind while you're visiting Delta Country, the Indianola Bayou Festival and the B.B. King Homecoming held in Indianola, Miss., May 31 through June 2 may be just for you. Once again, legendary blues artist B.B. King will entertain audiences when he returns to his hometown to perform at an outdoor concert during this major weekend event.

The spirit of the season is also booming in the Midwest in Missouri, where the summertime schedule is full of delightful activities and spectacular sights sure to please family members of all ages. Those interested in some high-kicking fun may want to round up the pack and head for Kansas City's Twin City Invitational/Bill Picket Rodeo held May 17 and 18. Kansas City's Blues & jazz Festival, held July 19 through 21, promises to be a "must see" for down-home music buffs. The festival will include the jazzy sounds of nearly 100 local and national acts celebrating the city's rich jazz heritage. And St. Louis, the Gateway City to the West, will be home to the popular St. Louis Blues Heritage Festival set to feature an impressive list of local, national and international star talents August 31 through September 2.

You can prepare for a whirlwind of spine-tingling excitement when you hit Miami's subtropical coast. The Miami/ Bahamas Goombay Festival in June mill provide hours of fun for the young and old. This annual, three-day event transforms the local area into Nassau's Bay Street as colorful costumed dancers perform to the beat of Caribbean rhythms. In addition, more than 400 vendors will be on hand to sell their wares. Miami's July 4th celebration, known as America's Birthday Bash '96, is said to be one of South Florida's largest multicultural extravaganzas. This year's party list will include Latin headliners, rock stars and a number of noted jazz, Big Band and folk artists. Fireworks, a laser show, a petting zoo and amusement rides will also be central attractions at this free, citywide event. Look for the city to come alive again during the Miami Reggae Festival. Billed as one of the lar-gest festivals of its kind, the event will showcase a day of musical acts, including some of the biggest names in reggae.

Experience cultural diversity and life after the Alamo in San Antonio, where the African-american heritage is often celebrated and explored. Through June 6, vacationers to this Southwestern city can view the dazzling traveling exhibits of works by renowned Black artist Jacob Lawrence. The city's 19th Annual Carver Jazz Festival kicks off June 20 and will feature some of the hottest new stars and established American jazz masters. And, children and adults can sample the folksy side of this region during the 25th Annual Texas Folklife Festival August 1 through 4. This four-day celebration ill explore more than 30 cultures. Ethnic entertainment, delicious food, dance and demonstrations all will be a part of this grand event.

Ready to hit the tropics? The Islands of the Bahamas are a practical choice. There are more than 700 islands, outer islands and cays to choose from. The popular region also offers optimal warm-weather spots for parasailing, jet-skiing, scuba diving and snorkeling. Many visitors flock to Nassau/Paradise island for shopping bargains in the area's famous straw hat district. Daring travelers may want to taste a dish made of the shellfish conch, the national delicacy of the islands. Those interested in sailing may enjoy vacationing in the boat-building haven of the Abacos. Another favorite among travelers is Eleuthera, which is noted for its beautiful pink-sand beaches. Look for the Bahamas to rumble again this season with the saucy sounds of calypso, jazz and reggae. In May, island visitors can take in a musical feast during the ever-popular Caribbean Muzik Festival held May 16 through 18. In June, the Bahamas Heritage Music Festival gets under way in Nassau/ Paradise Island. And July is the month for the grand jazz Festival on Grand Bahama Island.

You can mix a little mystique with your tropical travels on the Dutch-French island of St. Martin. The smallest land mass to be shared by two separate governments, St. Martin boasts white-sand beaches, enchanting coves, tranquil lagoons and colorful coral reefs. Highrollers mill enjoy the city's lively casino center and clothes hounds will be fascinated by the island's many boutiques and bargains; for St. Martin, situated in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, is the only completely duty-free port in the Caribbean.

There are other tropical centers waiting to lure the family crowd. One such place is the twin-island republic of Trinidad/tobago, which offers a melting pot of cultures, charms and cuisines. just off the eastern coast of Venezuela, these southernmost Caribbean islands make for splendid family vacation destinations. Watersports, music, food feasts and the exquisite flora and fauna of the region are main attractions. But the two-week Tobago Heritage Festival, held july 14 through August 1, is also sure to beckon revelers to party and play on its shores.

So don't stay cr-amped in a corner this season. Grab the kids, get out and enjoy all that these fun-filled locales have to offer.
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Title Annotation:planning a vacation with children
Publication:Ebony
Date:May 1, 1996
Words:1782
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