by Doreen Hanna
Is your family like mine? Viewing summer as the season to take a vacation, we often are seeking to escape the heat at home. So, one year we began investigating locations near the ocean or in the mountain regions where there are lakes or rivers to enjoy the cooler temperatures. Sometimes we rushed to arrive at our destination. I remember feeling like we missed opportunities to enjoy the journey on occasion. How about you? This year, maybe consider making the journey to your destination as memorable as the location you have chosen. Here are a number of interesting and fun filled-opportunities to enjoy the journey:
If you are on the west coast, how about visiting the missions in California? Not costly and many are close to a public beach! http://www.seecalifornia.com/missions/directory.html
COST: only $3pp + parking
Up the west coast, ocean views and trees make it a beautiful drive into Oregon. You can get an excellent sense of the history and diverse charms of the Columbia River Gorge region by starting in Portland and tracing a roughly triangular route east alongside the Columbia River, south up the slopes of Mount Hood and then back west following the Sandy River through a picturesque landscape of small villages. www.traveloregon.com
COST: Gas and a fun family meal in one of the villages
Enjoy the summer heat? Picture your family swimming at a 4- or 5-star hotel. Hotels are cheaper in Arizona come June-August. Consider visiting several of the national monuments prior, during or after your hotel destination. https://www.visitarizona.com/uniquely-az/parks-and-monuments
COST: Hotels $99 a night + gas
If seeking a less known but very intriguing state, try a visit to New Mexico. Discover a bit of history in just a day by visiting one or two of the 17 Pueblos still in existence. Then try their southwestern Mexican food . . . they are famous for their Frito Pie that the whole family will enjoy! For the more refined, consider the summer opera and the Spanish or Indian summer markets which bring guests internationally. http://www.planetware.com/new-mexico/north-central-pueblos-us-nm-ncp.htm
COST: Frito Pie!
The Texas coastline is dotted with charming beach towns rich in nostalgic Americana. You’ll find street signs topped with American flags, retro diners and pastel houses hoisted on stilts. Many of these destinations are also gateways to coastal parks and nature reserves—long stretches of coastline where you can claim a spot of sand to call your own. www.traveltexas.com
COST: Gas . . . and dinner at a diner
Northern American states can pique the interest of everyone in the family. Indiana, for instances, is famous for its Children’s Museum, Indianapolis Speedway Museum or a visit to the famous University of Notre Dame. They are known for their fried pork sandwiches and the best corn on the cob in the U.S. https://visitindiana.com/
COST: Museum $5pp and lunch
Minnesota is a great destination for water sports. They are known for their 10,000 lakes. Many water sports are available such as canoeing, inboard boating, water skiing, fishing and water rafting with the family. Curious as to a favorite food? Lefse is a famous Norwegian bread that is famous throughout the state within family homes and restaurants. www.exploreminnesota.com
COST: Rental fee for your chosen sport and a taste of Lefse.
New Hampshire might become the next best state to visit—they have the Ice Cream Trail! Brace yourself for looks of wide-eyed delight when you tell the kids you’re spending a day on the Ice Cream Trail. You won’t be able to visit all 47 dairy farms and ice cream stands (well, maybe if you spend all summer in New Hampshire!), but even stopping for cool treats at a few of them will earn you rock-star-parent status. www.visit-newhampshire.com COST: $2-5pp for ice cream!
New Jersey is a small state but big on fun. Just a short drive from the beaches of the Jersey Shore, Argos Farm Country Fun offers families seasonal activities for all ages. Enjoy a corn maze, hay rides, pumpkin picking, a jumping pillow, pony rides, a cow train ride and more. Admission is only $7 per person and kids under 2 are free. Another option is Long Beach Island, or “LBI” to which it is commonly referred, is an 18-mile-long barrier island that’s accessible by a causeway, located off the coast about mid-way down Jersey Shore, a short drive north of Atlantic City. Ocean-loving families visit LBI for its low-key atmosphere. www.visitnj.org/
Tennessee is a landlocked state in the U.S. South. Its capital, centrally-located Nashville, is the heart of the country-music scene, with the long-running Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and a legendary stretch of honky-tonks and dance halls. Tennessee has numerous festivals and celebrations. Not only are they fun, festivals provide a window into the culture and help to support traditional crafts and customs. Experience Tennessee’s rich culinary history that includes slow-cooked barbecue and sweet tea, country ham and red-eye gravy. www.tnvacation.com
COST: Country Music Hall of Fame Museum is $25 for adults, $15 for children. Festivals are as little or as much as you like.
South Carolina offers walking along the river that makes you want to get in the water. The Saluda Shoals Park is the perfect place for families to kayak or go tubing. Or enjoy one of the consistently rated best zoos in the country—Riverbanks Zoo. The array of animals is extensive and includes a botanical garden, hiking trails, a carousel, rock climbing and a zipline. It’s a wild adventure for all. www.discoversouthcarolina.com
COST: Zoo ticket is $13.95 for adults, $11.95 for children 12 and under.
This is just a small list of the wonderful opportunities across the United States, providing educational diversity as well as fun. I hope this summer will be a memorable one for you and yours as you travel near or far from home.
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