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Have you noticed there’s no other place for teenagers to talk about travel?

Here you can read what other teenagers have to say about travel – from day trips to journeys abroad, shopping, eating, coasting, and other activities on vacation. Also, parents can read what teenagers like and dislike about family vacations and destinations so that they can plan a family trip that YOU will enjoy.

 

Teen Travel Talk is also interested in YOUR travel experiences. If you want to become a paid blogger and publish your travel stories on Teen Travel Talk, click “contact us” on the left hand side, fill out your contact information and tell us why you’d be a great teen travel blogger.

 



Dreams of New Zealand

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View of Wellington, NZ

 

With today’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies‘ nationwide release, I can’t help but reminisce about my time visiting New Zealand’s North Island. It was in a time period between the productions of  The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies; to this day,  I am still in awe of my memories. Was I really there? Did I really see the landscape I saw, and go on a super nerdy but absolutely fantastic “Lord of the Rings” tour in and around the capital city of Wellington? Yes I did, and I cannot wait to return to visit even more locations in the near future.

 

The country was made famous Peter Jackson’s splashy and engrossing epic films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famous high fantasy works, but this island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean is worth visiting in its own right. The flora and landscapes are beautifully captured on film and in photographs, but nothing matches actually being there to see and experience it all for yourself. I was unable to visit New Zealand’s South Island, which has even wilder and more fairy tale-like scenery, so I am eager to go back and visit both islands the next time. I still remember the train ride my sister and I took from Wellington to Auckland on North Island, which was fantastic because we saw one breathtaking vista after another. I would definitely recommend all prospective visitors to travel north to south or south to north by car, train, or bus, if possible. I dare even the most jaded travelers not to have their minds blown by New Zealand’s dramatic natural beauty.

 

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When I was in Wellington, I was lucky enough to stay at the Booklovers B&B, which is located in the downtown area and next to some forest land that was used as background  in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The inn has comfortable and cozy rooms, and there are books everywhere. As a self-proclaimed booklover myself, I loved the whole experience. The knowledgeable owner is available to share local information on literary, artistic, and social events and institutions with guests, and the breakfasts are delicious. When I return to Wellington, I will definitely stay there again.

I don’t think worldwide fascination with New Zealand’s spectacular vistas and charming towns and cities will fade now that The Hobbit Trilogy is complete and that no more Tolkien classics will be turned into live action films. This island country should be on everyone’s travel bucket list, and it is one place I want to see and experience again. I hope that New Zealanders will preserve their national and cultural integrity and maintain their strong sense of Kiwi hospitality, as their tourism industry continues its upswing. Having experienced and witnessed it all for myself, I know they are more than able to balance all of these sentiments for years to come.

 

 

5 Reasons Why Your Summer Should Be in West Michigan

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Now, I know we’re about to hit the peak of winter, but the summer needs some planning ahead, especially for a family trip. So West Michigan isn’t that wild of an idea for a family trip, right? At least consider these things when summer plans begin forming in your household.

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1) One of the best ice cream places I have been to, and definitely on the top-top of the list of Michigan (Moomers in Traverse City is its one competition), is Jersey Junction in East Grand Rapids.  It is a place with a rich history, well-loved by folks from the Grand Rapids area, and charming for the rest of us who encounter it. This ice cream parlor has been here for quite awhile, and stories from their past cover their walls. One of the stores original gas lights still sits outside the store. They are one of few places in the area that are still serving old fashioned sodas and they also serve Michigan’s Hudsonville Ice Cream (including Blue Moon, my favorite). And the waffle cones are fresh and made in house.

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2) Grand Haven, Michigan is a beach town. For those who live on the coast, a Midwestern city being called a beach town may very well sound ridiculous, but once you’ve experienced Lake Michigan, you’ll understand. The lake is beautiful with its beautiful waters and small waves. In the summer, this town is crowded with visitors and activities. Plus, this town is a foodie town, with known restaurants like Snug Harbor, Morning Star Cafe, Grand Haven Islands, and plenty of others.

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3) Holland, Michigan is another beach town, originally settled by Dutch Calvinists. Now, that may not be terribly interesting (and for the few that find that interesting, I recommend Holland’s annual “Tulip Festival” in May), but some of things those settlers left behind are beautiful, such as the historical De Zwaan windmill, first erected in 1761. Holland is also littered with summer cottages and tourists, but the town maintains its small town feel in the craze that sets in when things get warm. A popular event towards the very end of summer is the Tulipanes Latino Art and Film Festival.

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4) Festival of the Arts is the largest outdoor festival in Grand Rapids, has been going on for 45 years, and has more than 20,000 volunteers helping out with this free event. Free concerts, amazing food booths, and dancers all over the place, this festival is a great way to kick off your summer with the family, from June 6th to the 8th.

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5) Eastown Bizarre Bazaar draws all the quirky and wild vendors of Michigan for an amazing artist market. Local artists and local food, what could be better? The music is also awesome. Yes, some of it is a bit odd, but for the most part, you will be blown away. GR’s favorite bazaar has consistently attracted over 5,000 people for an almost all-day event. Thankfully, admission is free.

Baseball a la Mexicana

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Baseball is the all-American sport, right? I even made a whole article on that. However, it is also played in other places other than the good old United States. Over the summer, I had the chance to go to a baseball game in Mexico–specifically Tijuana. Los Toros de Tijuana were playing against Puebla.

This was a complete new experience. I have gone to many baseball games here in the US but never before in Mexico. My family and I thought this was going to be like any other baseball game, but we were wrong!

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First off, my aunt had recommended that we bring noisemakers and horns. So we were prepared for making a ton of noise and cheering on for our team. The ones we had weren’t your typical noisemakers. We had our “metraca”:

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Do not underestimate this small wooden object. This is the loudest thing ever! Everyone had one and whenever our team would score a home run, the crowd would go crazy with these!

Have you ever heard of cheerleaders for a baseball team? Well, that’s exactly what there is in Mexico. They danced, gave out candy, and took pictures with the audience. But what really caught our attention were the mascots! They were hilarious! They were dancing (Miley Cyrus style) and they were interacting with the audience so much! By far the best baseball mascots ever!

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And then there was the big screen… Our family (keep in mind there was a ton of us) were on the screen around 5 times. The cameramen were walking around trying to see who was dancing (they were playing really good music), being loud, or crazy. That basically described my family, so there we were.

This was the best baseball game ever! At the end, of course, there was a banda and a dance outside. It was pretty awesome and so much fun! I can’t wait to go back to another game!

Gas Works Park in Seattle, Washington

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One of my favorite things about Seattle is the abundance of parks. There are literally dozens of parks, hundred of acres worth of them, in this city. My absolute favorite has to be Gas Works Park. These 19.1 acres of public park are located where the Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant was once located. In fact, some ruins from the plant are still present and even incorporated into the park. It’s history and their current innovations accommodating to their history’s remnants make it this park very quirky and bizarre,  and the Seattle Times called it ”easily the strangest park in Seattle, and may rank among the strangest in the world.”

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Prior to the plant, there had been sawmills operating on the land, and later on the 19th century there was brick manufacturing, ship building, iron industry, and a tannery. In the early 1900s, the Seattle Gas Light Company purchased land and began operating their coal gas plant. Throughout the 20th century, the plant continued to expand, peaking at serving 43,198 customers in 1940.  Gas productions ceased in 1956.

Some features of the park are the play barn, picnic shelters, an artificial kite-flying hill, a sculptured sundial, preserved and transformed towers from the plant, and the “Earth Mound”, a hill built out of the rubble from the old plant.

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Though there were years of pollution on this piece of land, the park has been declared safe and clean. During the 70s, a “cleaning and greening” project on the park transformed the ecological state of Gas Works Park.

Fun fact: a scene from “10 Things I Hate About You” were shot at Gas Works Park. In fact, Gas Works Park is known for the number of shows and movies have been shot there, including “Singles” and the popular competition “The Amazing Race”.

Gas Works Park is huge, but often it is fairly full of families, couples picnicking, and in the summer there are constantly events and concerts. It has to be one of my favorite places because of how fun, silly, and uniquely beautiful it is.

 

 

San Francisco Zoo

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As you guys probably know, I love San Francisco… I’ve talked about the amazing park with the concrete slide, the incredible interactive museum, the world famous Fisherman’s Wharf, and the delicious chocolate factory! But there’s more! There’s always more!

This time I went to the zoo!

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First off, its huge. There are so many different animals, ones I didn’t even know existed! My family and I had fun walking around trying to spot all of the animals. My favorite was the tiger (who was actually active and walking around–kind of intimidating, but beautiful).

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Naturally when my baby brother saw a train go around, he just had to get on, so there we went. Each person had to pay $5, but it was worth it to see his face light up while we went around the zoo.

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The best thing about this zoo was the playground! My sister and brother had a blast at this park. There is just something about San Francisco playgrounds that make them the best!

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You can also get your zoo fix and your beach fix all within one intersection! The wonders of being on the California Coast.

Can’t wait to go back!

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