Aruba's All-Ages Appeal

By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 13, 2007

Q. My husband and I are going to Aruba with our young children and their grandmothers. Any ideas for things to do off the beach? Should we rent a car?

Alison Malzahn, Oak Hill

A. Aruba is an all-ages island, offering activities that bring together multiple generations under the Caribbean sky. "Aruba is really an ideal island for grandparents and kids," says Cristina Rivas, spokeswoman for the Aruba Tourism Authority (800-862-7822,

The island's core tourist demographic is in the mid-30s to 50s, Rivas says, and the island caters to this age group and their offspring. In addition, the island has a host of activities that don't involve sand and surf. "If you are maxed out on sun," Rivas says, "you can easily spend five or six days doing activities not on the beach."

For example, witness the butterfly's life cycle at the Butterfly Farm, observe migratory birds from the Bubali Bird Sanctuary's tower, and pet and feed the leggy inhabitants of the Aruba Ostrich Farm. Kids can also pat the residents of the Aruba Donkey Sanctuary, which cares for sick and injured wild donkeys.

When it's time to leave the wild kingdom, head to Oranjestad, the capital, where adults will enjoy art galleries and museums, such as the Numismatic Museum. Many downtown restaurants are kid-friendly, but for a child-free night out, most properties have children's camps or babysitting.

Rivas recommends renting a car because many areas are too far away to reach by foot. The island has a public bus system, but with little kids or older grandparents, you probably won't want to sit in the hot sun waiting for your ride. Aruba's roads are paved, well-marked and don't have cliffside climbs or plunging descents; the only scary road hazard may be the roundabouts.

I'm looking for seafood restaurants in Bar Harbor, Maine. Lobster is at the top of our list.

Gail Heimes, Middletown

Lobster is the king crustacean in Bar Harbor. Hard-shell lobsters are available year-round, whereas soft-shell lobsters, known for their sweeter meat, are in season July through September. Bar Harbor restaurants also prepare other creatures of the sea and shore. Here are some local faves:

* At the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound (1237 Bar Harbor Rd., Trenton, 207-667-2977), pick your own lobster, then watch it boil in ocean water on an outdoor wood-fire cooker. Leave room for sides and pie.

* Galyn's (17 Main St., 207-288-9706), which overlooks the harbor, dresses up its seafood -- though you can also get your lobster plain-old boiled.

* Sample Down East cuisine at the Rinehart Dining Pavilion (50 Eden St., 207-288-5663), on the grounds of Fairview, the former summer estate of mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart.

* The Jordan Pond House (Park Loop Road, 207-276-3316) is the only restaurant in Acadia National Park. Stop by for afternoon tea with popovers and jam.

* Jordan's Restaurant (80 Cottage St., 207-288-3586) cooks breakfast into the next mealtime. Try anything smothered in blueberries, such as the pancakes.

* At Tapley's Variety and Grill (317 Main St., 207-288-8185), share breakfast with lobstermen before they head out to sea.

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