Gwen Kleist

Gwen Kleist

Gwen Kleist is an award-winning writer and PR professional who works full-time at a major medical center in Southern California. She is the mother of one very active son who shares her love of travel and adventure. Her articles have appeared in San Diego Family Magazine, Sunset Magazine, Cat Fancy, Huntington Beach Magazine, and she was a contributing author to Explorer Publishing’s guidebook, Los Angeles: The Complete Resident’s Guide. Follow her on Twitter at @HealthTravelMom.

Top Ten Thrills, Chills and Spills at Sea World San Diego

Since its founding in 1964, Sea World San Diego – located on Mission Bay – has been known for its animal attractions, marine exhibits and shows that are fun to watch but not particularly hands-on. Over the past several years, however, some innovative new additions have changed all that! Here are the top ten thrills, chills and spills – old and new – that take park goers out of the spectator seats and into the fun seat. 1. Manta Let’s kick off the list with Sea World San Diego’s newest and most exhilarating ride to date – Manta. This...

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Hotel Review: The Dana, San Diego

The Dana has all the makings of an awesome family friendly hotel – bay front location, two big pools, kid-friendly activities and inexpensive dining options. Yet what greeted me upon arrival at The Dana on Mission Bay was not excitement, but an unexpected surge of disappointment. Not that the destination wasn’t still great. There’s plenty to do and see to keep the kids happy for days. But the hotel I checked into was a far cry from the one represented on The Dana’s website, where I booked our stay. That’s because the Dana is comprised of an older section...

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Volunteer Vacation – Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Kanab, Utah

Cleaning out horse stables, grooming a cat or pulling weeds along a dog-walk trail might not be the obvious top choices on most people’s vacation wish list, but getting these jobs done can be endlessly rewarding. That’s just what we did on our recent volunteer vacation in the canyons of southern Utah, where we spent three days volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Let me back up a minute. I have a cat. I have a dog. Why would we drive seven hours to help take care of other people’s animals? Well, that’s just the thing. The animals who...

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: An African-Themed Vacation Destination

It’s true that nobody travels to Walt Disney World to enjoy the hotels alone. The theme parks are the main attraction here; where you stay is just the icing on the cake. If that’s the case, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the yummiest icing you’ll ever taste! We discovered this first hand on a recent trip to Orlando. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the most meticulously themed resorts at Disney World. Embodying the essence of an African lodge, this resort is the perfect blend of nature, art and architecture. From the moment you enter, you are entrenched...

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Cosmopolitan Las Vegas Hotel: For Adults Only

Business trip? Check. Romantic weekend? Sure. Girlfriends getaway? Absolutely. Family Vacation? Not so much. The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas is a lot of things, but one thing it doesn’t even pretend to be is kid friendly. Still, everyone needs a little grown-up time. And when that kids-free weekend presents itself, there is no better place to dash off to than the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, for adults only. From the moment you walk in the door to check-in, you can sense this place is unique. Located right at the center of the Las Vegas Strip, the Cosmopolitan is downright swanky, but...

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Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort: Family Fun in Santa Barbara’s Wine Country

Can a vacation destination be described as both rustic and luxurious at the same time? Can a place be equally appealing to adults who want to unwind and kids who are all about getting wound up? Yes, if it is the Alisal Guest Ranch And Resort. The Alisal is located in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, just outside of Santa Barbara in California. Set on a 10,000-acre ranch, this unique resort blends the beauty and solitude of nature with exceptional golf, family fun, and first-class accommodations. The Alisal features 73 guest rooms and suites decorated in a classic warm ranch...

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Dolphins of the Caribbean

Forget Johnny Depp – Dolphins are the real stars at this family-friendly resort in the Mexican Caribbean city of Cancun.  Stepping into the water, you could almost feel the anticipation radiating through the group. There were six of us, elbow deep in the warm saltwater, giggling nervously as the first of our eagerly-awaited hosts skimmed past us in the pool, the touch of their velvety sleek skin both foreign and thrilling at the same time. We were sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the new Delphinus Dreams Cancun at the Dreams Cancun Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico; we were swimming...

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Dolphins of the Caribbean, cont’d

Dreams Cancun is an all-inclusive resort (well, almost all inclusive – the Dolphin swim is actually an additional $149 per person, regardless of age).  This is great for families, as you can enjoy the carefree ambience without the hassle of having to carry a wallet around. One word to the wise, be sure to memorize your room number early on as this is your ticket to just about everything this “no wristbands” resort has to offer. What makes this experience unique from other dolphin encounters is the seamless collaboration between the hotel and the dolphinarium. The dolphin pool is...

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Catalina Island: Family Fun on the Island of Romance

Catalina Island is known as The Island of Romance but it offers sights and activities sure to please the whole family. Catalina Island is known as “The Island of Romance,” but that doesn’t mean this oasis off the coast of Southern California isn’t fit for families. In fact, whether you are looking for a place to bring the entire family for some fun in the sun or to leave the kids behind for a romantic getaway, Catalina Island offers sights and activities sure to please everyone. Just a short boat ride away, Catalina Island is easy to get to...

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