Forgive me, I am having a Flashback!
I really liked taking vacations with our kids. I miss that now that they are grown up. Over the years we visited Disney World a few times, Universal Studios, took a Carribean cruise, made several trips to Myrtle Beach, Traverse City and the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. But one of my favorite family vacations was our Big Family Road Trip.
I had discovered a Kids Travel Atlas, a cool book filled with maps of the United States divided by regional area. Each page had suggested stops geared toward kids as well as car games and challenges. It gave me the idea of letting the kids participate in planning our summer Road Trip Vacation.
First I set a few guidelines:
- We only had 1 week, so we had to stay within a reasonable area
- Each family member got to pick 1 Major stop
- No Complaining about the choices made by other family members
- At some point I would get to put my butt in an inner tube and float 1 lap around a Lazy River for every 100 miles we drove
Along the way, we tried to choose hotels with pools so they could burn off some pent up energy from being in the car. Whenever possible, we also took their suggestions for dining and pit stops. Democracy at work!
Our son, Mason, got 1st pick and chose the Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio. Since we were starting from Michigan, this was totally doable and set our path heading down the eastern seaboard.
Mason and I probably enjoyed this stop the most out of our family since we are both big football fans. I loved seeing the bronze busts of the players I admired and the life size display of Walter Peyton, who was one of my all time favorites.
Our daughter, Maggie, was up next. Based on our direction, Maggie chose the Hershey Chocolate factory in Pennsylvania. First we took the theme park style ride through the production line watching them create all sorts of candy and roll nuts into candy bars. We watched the 4D Chocolate movie and had our picture taken with Candy Bar Characters. We finished with a visit to the gift shop. Mason wanted to buy a 3lb candy bar, but we didn’t think it would travel well on our summer road trip. This was a super kid friendly stop. If we would have had more time, we could have stayed over to visit the theme park, but we had places to go.
Since we would be driving around Washington DC, we decided to take a short break there. We didn’t have a real plan, so we just headed for the National Mall area and viewed as many of the monuments as we could in the time we had for our stop. We managed to see the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and view the Washington Monument. Time well spent.
When taking a road trip with kids, I think it is important to remember to plan breaks so everyone not only gets to use the facilities, eat and stretch, they also get some distraction and to enjoy a little space.
Our path took us through the Chesapeake Bay area which includes a really cool group of tunnels and bridges. I think everyone found that an interesting distraction on our way to our next stop, Kitty Hawk North Carolina. Because they were celebrating 100 Years of Flight, The Wright Brothers Museum had extra displays and presentations going on. We had lived in North Carolina for 9 years and both kids were born there. Although Mark and I had been to the Outer Banks before, the kids had not. I really like all the beaches, bridges and lighthouses.
The Outer Banks are a long strip of land with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds on the other. They are connected by a series of bridges and ferries that make traveling through the area pretty scenic.
It was our second educational stop in a row, so the kids were starting to get twitchy. After the museum, we found a cool waterfront restaurant that served Mark and I fresh blue crab sandwiches. Fried legs hanging over the sides of our buns and all. Yum. The kids were given plastic cutlasses and eye patches with their meals, so they were happy too.
Our longest stop was in Myrtle Beach. We booked a few days at a beachfront hotel with lots of amenities for the kids. The hotel afforded us access to a putt putt golf course (we love putt putt), a small amusement park, pools and beach. Additionally, we were right on the Strand, so there were tons of distractions like arcades and trinket shops.
Spending 2 days here was a great break from the confines of the car. Everyone got to do things they wanted to do here and burn off some energy. I got my lazy river and definitely floated around enough laps to cover the 2000 mile round trip journey.
Our last stop before heading home would be about a 4 hour car ride to Concord, North Carolina. That is where we lived and my Mom and Brothers still did. We spent a nice day visiting with the family before packing up to drive the final 12 hours back home to Michigan.
I always pack lots of car snacks when we take a road trip. There is nothing worse than a hangry kid (except a hangry husband) while trapped in the car with no stops in sight.
It is a lovely drive through the mountains, if you haven’t been in the car for the majority of a week. We made sure to make plenty of fun little stops along the way home. All in all this was a pretty good vacation. It felt good that everyone was allowed to participate and make choices about what we did.
As a Mom, there isn’t much I love more than spending quality time with my children. I miss our Family Vacations, which is why I am mulling around ideas for a grown up family vacation sometime soon! Mixing my favorite two things, Family & Travel.
Kids be warned…..Mom is cooking up a New Adventure!
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!