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Family Fun Via The Web

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Whether you're staying close to home or hitting the road this summer, there are plenty of fun family activities awaiting you. And, thanks to the Web, it's easier than ever to find that perfect activity for kids, adults or the whole family.

Let's start with fairs and festivals. I'm a sucker for county fairs, but I often fail to make a point to take the family. Now I don't have any excuse. Expo Central offers a national directory of state and county fairs, listed by state at www.expocentral.com.

Festivals.com lists just about every fair in the country, along with wine festivals, street fares, ethnic events, concerts and much more. You can search by locale or keyword or subject such as "air show" or "bluegrass." The search isn't just limited to our local area. You can search by city, state, country and even continent. Why settle for a local chili festival when you can find a festival in Chile? Actually, there weren't any events listed for Chile, but I did find a Tall Ship event and a tango festival in Argentina.

I'm off to New York on business soon, but -- thanks to festivals.com, maybe I'll take some time out to sample some food at the Taste of Times Square. If I'm still hungry, I can go to www.nycstreetfairs.com where I'll learn about all the other fairs and festivals going on in the Big Apple this summer.

I visited broadway.com to find out what shows are playing while I'm town but I don't plan to by my tickets online. They're cheaper at the TKTS booth in Times Square.

You can also research concerts, circuses, children's events and sporting events at ticketmaster.com. Of course, the site makes its money on ticket sales but you can also use it just to find out what is happening locally or in any part of the country.

If you search for "festival" on Yahoo, you'll find listings for music festivals, film festivals and, of course, Gilroy's famous Garlic Festival.

If you're headed to a city -- even a relatively small one -- you can learn about what's happening at CitySearch.com. If it weren't for this site, I wouldn't have known about the Judy Collins' Wildflower Festival with Arlo Guthrie, Tom Rush and Eric Andersen at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga on Friday.

CitySearch also provides listings for "the best of"in various cities. As a bicycle fanatic, I can't wait to have a meal at the Twisted Spoke in Chicago.

If music is your thing, check out Festival Finder. I didn't count them, but it claims to provide information on more than 2,500 music festivals in North America.

Speaking of festivals, there will be plenty coming up on the Fourth of July, but do you or your kids know about the history of how we have celebrated this important holiday? James R. Heintze, a librarian at American University in Washington D.C., has compiled a very interesting Fourth of July Celebrations Database at www.american.edu/heintze/fourth.htm. He has links to some events around the country (my favorite is www.coloradospringsjazzfestival.com) but he mostly focuses on the history of the event.

There is plenty of Fourth of July trivia on the Web along with sites that provide arts and crafts, coloring books, music and other goodies to help celebrate. One good one is at www.dltk-kids.com/usa/. You'll find more by searching for "Fourth of July" on Yahoo and other search engines.

Newspapers and their Web sites are great places to find out about local events. Click on the "events" links at BayArea.com (operated by Knight-Ridder, parent company of the San Jose Mercury News) for information about events in the Bay Area.

Before you leave town, check out Web sites of the local newspapers of the places you're visiting. You'll find an extensive international database of news sites at www.abyznewslinks.com. My favorite technology and general news sites are listed at www.pcanswer.com.

And don't forget your own events. If you're planning a summer party, you can take advantage of Web resources to help plan it and even manage the guest list. Evite.com is a popular web site for organizing a party. You can use it to create a guest list, send out invitations, even print a map to the locale. There are plenty of party tools, including a survey where you can ask your guest what type of music to play, what to serve and so on. You can also plan your event using Party411.com which, by the way, includes resources for Fourth of July celebrations. Other party services include partypop.com and party-creations.com.


A syndicated technology columnist for nearly two decades, Larry Magid serves as on air Technology Analyst for CBS Radio News. His technology reports can be heard several times a week on the CBS Radio Network. Magid is the author of several books including "The Little PC Book."

Got a PC question? Visit www.PCAnswer.com.