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Molly Smith
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Posted: Oct 26 2006 at 9:53am | IP Logged Quote Molly Smith

My dh is in a "road trip" frame of mind and so I'm asking my favorite resource (you!) for your input. Some quick facts: there are 8 of us, we live in Northern VA, will likely be travelling by RV and it is capable of pulling our van. We'd be travelling off-peak--no major holidays, school holidays or mid-summer.

I'd love to hear about places you've been and places you want to visit. Which were particularly easy/hard with littles in tow? With RVs/campers?

Feel free to include the obvious--Niagra Falls, the Alamo, etc. We'd love places we can tie in to shrines, churches, memorials and monuments as well as just the beauty of seeing the country.

I'm going to be starting a "road trip" notebook divided by state and compiling a list of 2-, 3-, 4-day trips, weeklongs, and longer.

Please share personal experiences, resources or anything you think would be helpful! Thank you SO much!!



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Posted: Oct 26 2006 at 9:58am | IP Logged Quote ladybugs

Hope you stop by here!

But we LOVE the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, Multnomah Falls, the Lewis and Clark Museum in Gresham, OR.

I know, you could take Lewis and Clark route out there and then drive south to visit here...on the way you can stop at Chari's and see Mt. Shasta, too...which, I must say, just from driving on the freeway and beholding it from a distance was breathtaking....

Oh, and any beach, anywhere....just for the experience of seeing beaches in different climates....way cool.

The Tech Museum in San Jose, CA, is really cool - one of my children's favorites, in fact and Our Lady of Peace Parish in Santa Clara - it's a Shrine...

Just some ideas....

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Posted: Oct 26 2006 at 10:25am | IP Logged Quote Lisbet

We love Hocking Hills here in Ohio. Most trails are kid friendly and it's great any time of year too. We usually stay at Lake Hope State Park they have great inexpensive cabins (I know you said you have an RV) and we've stayed in all season. Love it!

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Posted: Oct 26 2006 at 11:15am | IP Logged Quote marihalojen

If you head for the Mt. Shasta area make certain to stop by Whiskeytown Lake, it still ranks waaay up there in my list of favorite places to swim. The water tastes so, so clean and crisp and as you swim the bottom gets stirred up a bit and it is just like swimming in a shaken snowglobe because of the mica in the sand - phenomenal experience!    

Such good memories...


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Posted: Oct 26 2006 at 11:36am | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

I'd love to get that list of must sees in every state. Saw the postage stamp series of 50 states highlighting one place per state, so hubby and I were talking that we needed to put those on our travel wish list and try to get to one or two a year. I'll google and post again if I find it, but if you gals know anything about it, please share! Thanks. Great thread, Molly!

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Posted: Oct 26 2006 at 12:00pm | IP Logged Quote Cheryl

We went to Crater Lakeone time when we were in Oregon. It's beautiful and could be very educational. Mount Rainier is also beautiful. I went there when Matthew was 9 mos. He cried a lot there and we later found out he had an ear infection.

I've vacationed twice at Plymouth, MA in the fall and with small children. I love it there.

We went to Niagra Falls in the summer. It was hot and humid and my little dc were too tired to walk around.

I took 3 little ones around New Orleans when my dh was in meetings. There's a nice zoo and aquarium and an awesome children's museum. Those types of activities can get expensive quickly. We've also taken babies to Toronto, Seattle, Reno and Minneapolis. I don't recommend big cities in general. You can always find things to do, but it's a lot of trouble getting around with a double stoller, etc.

Traveling by RV sounds like so much fun. I look forward to reading everyone's ideas about places to go.



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Posted: Oct 26 2006 at 2:03pm | IP Logged Quote lapazfarm

I will tell you what were the three most memorable vacations I took as a child:
1. Exploring the coast in the Pacific Northwest. I will never forget the experience of touching live, wild starfish, sea anemones and more in those rocky tide pools. Not to mention the Redwoods, where I got my early start as a tree-hugger.
2. Snorkeling in Pennekamp reef off Key Largo. I was absolutely stunned by the magical array of fish one could see with a simple snorkle and mask. Like a key to a fairy world...
3. Dinosaur National monument. Made me want to be a paleontologist for years! I still harbor a secret dream to one day unearth something big and very, very old.
To me, more than museums and theme parks (though they can be delightful as well)these are the types of vacations that dreams are made of.

Olympic National Park, Washington
Pennekamp Reef
Dinosaur National Monument

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Posted: Oct 26 2006 at 5:13pm | IP Logged Quote marihalojen

Molly, don't forget to check out the thread with Living History Sites, it's great!

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Shari in NY
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Posted: Oct 27 2006 at 8:49am | IP Logged Quote Shari in NY

Molly,
I'll suggest the obvious Niagara Falls is definately worth the trip. I haven't travelled there by RV but Buffalo is one of the easier cities to navigate. Also, just south of there is Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawawna. It was built in the 1920's with Notre Dame in Paris as the model. Beautiful. And farther south yet, is Findley Lake (our home!) with a very nice RV park on the lake if you would care to visit!

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Posted: Oct 27 2006 at 3:42pm | IP Logged Quote Kristi

I don't know if you are Little House fans, but we took the boys to DeSmet,SD Labor Day weekend (by way of Walnut Grove,MN) and they LOVED it! It was not busy at all. Ingalls Homestead was the highlight with lots of hands on exhibits/activities. They had RV parking or you can sleep in a covered wagon.    We also did the tour in town which was good, but probably geared toward a slightly older crowd (our oldest is 6). Travelling by RV I'm sure you could plan your route through Mansfield, MO, Burr Oak, IA and Pepin, WI and hit all the Laura sites, but if that sounds like Laura overdose you could hit the other side of South Dakota and visit Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands and Custer State Park.

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Posted: Oct 27 2006 at 8:24pm | IP Logged Quote Jen L.

I haven't visited them with kids (we hope to some day) but I have to mention

Yellowstone National Park - it's almost like another planet in places!

and

Mesa Verde National Park (I recommend getting the tickets to go with the ranger into one of the cliff dwellings)

Of course, if you just can't wait, you can enjoy a live webcam shot of Old Faithful along with other "online tours" right now from your computer!

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Posted: Oct 27 2006 at 8:36pm | IP Logged Quote ALmom

How about the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL - it is an entire replica of the Holy Land built out of old trash (that does not look like trash at all) with wayside shrines and a few things tucked in for the littles like the castle with a dragon chained up and Hansel and Gretel. It was built by a Benedictine monk who was confined to a wheelchair and unable to do the farm work anymore.

Also, if you do come south, be sure to visit Mother's shrine in Hanceville, AL. It is really special and I think you can still get some of the lay brothers to give a tour of the farm and grounds. Both the upper and lower churches are beautiful. They have a seperate "castle" for eating and the bookstore and it has all kinds of medieval armour. They also have a walking, outdoor meditation on the Blessed Sacrament. Just be prepared as there is nothing else nearby and you'll have to bring your own food and drink.

We also liked the Lost Sea in Bristol, Tn which includes a boat ride in a lake in a cave - very dark. I remember the children being allowed to explore certain areas and this might make some a bit tense.

Oh, going down the Black River somewhere in Florida was great as the water was not over anyone's heads. We got a raft, a canoe and a kayak and kept trading off - except the baby stayed with me either on the raft or the canoe. We really took our time.

White water rafting on the Ocoee is fun - but only if you have close to teen and above (we did it before we had children, I might be a bit more conservative now It is definitely not for littles.

Janet
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Molly Smith
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Posted: Oct 28 2006 at 6:02am | IP Logged Quote Molly Smith

Thank you all for the ideas--keep 'em coming! We're going to start with some mid-atlantic trips, and then work our way up and down the eastern states and then work our way west over time. I have a wonderful notebook started (of course!) to keep track of the sites to visit. Looking forward to even more ideas!

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Posted: Oct 28 2006 at 10:43pm | IP Logged Quote MaryM

stefoodie wrote:
Saw the postage stamp series of 50 states highlighting one place per state, so hubby and I were talking that we needed to put those on our travel wish list and try to get to one or two a year. I'll google and post again if I find it, but if you gals know anything about it, please share!


I'm wondering if this is the postage series you meant - Wonders of America?
There are only 40 so they don't actually cover each state (and some states have multiple wonders) but it does list lots of cool places. My kids have a copy of the coloring/activity book, called "Meet the Wonders of America" that the post office published on this series. They have been giving them away at our post office - hopefully yours is as well. Puts all the locations in one place to keep track of. Inside the front cover they have a map showing the location of each of the wonders.

I can't find it on their website - probably because it's a freebie, but they do have these that go along with the series: Curious George Wonders and Wonders of America book.

Or it could have been the "Greetings from America" series from 2002. They have been tying those in with state quarters and listing highlights from each state - though the stamps show the character of the state and not necessarily any specific locations.
State Quarter and Stamp sets

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Posted: Oct 28 2006 at 11:05pm | IP Logged Quote Mary G

Molly --

A "must see" would have to include Denver -- and you could meet at least THREE 4realers -- Momwise, Mary M and Me! Wouldn't that be fun? Besides your kids would have a blast "hanging" with all ours....

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Posted: Oct 29 2006 at 5:49am | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

That's the one, Mary!!! I must have mixed up the two together in my mind, and when I did a search all I could find was the Greetings from America series. Thanks so much!



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Posted: Oct 30 2006 at 10:52pm | IP Logged Quote Erica Sanchez

Molly,

I may be a bit biased, but I would most definitely include

Yosemite National Park

in any trip out West. Breathtakingly, spectacularly, beautiful!

I hope you'll share your finds with the rest of us.

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Posted: Oct 31 2006 at 12:27am | IP Logged Quote Kelly

Stay in a few abbeys along the way. Two of our favorites are St. Meinrad's in St. Meinrad, Indiana, and Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Arkansas. The rooms are clean and neat, the ambiance relaxing, and a beautiful Mass in the morning. We've stayed in both places at least a couple of times.

We did part of historic Route 66 this summer, and it was great. Our next road trip West will definitely include following a larger portion of the route. Get your kicks on Route 66!

Rancho de las Golondrinas near Santa Fe is wonderful. If you're in that area, it's definitely a "must see".

My kids and I really enjoyed Zion National Park, too. Beautiful, well-organized, family-friendly. Loved it.

If you go to Alabama to the shrine in Cullman (which is so inspiring-although my then 1 year old had a heat-seizure there when we visited and we had to call an ambulence The nuns were great, though-we spent a goodly part of the day in their company!) ANYWAY, if you go to that area, it's definitely worth going a little farther south to Montgomery for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. It's a repertory theatre, running shows all year. Really neat, and great plays. And if you go to Zion, there's ALSO a Shakespeare Rep Theatre in nearby Cedar City that is fab. Even my 11 year old loved their production of "Hamlet". Very worthy.

If you go to Florida, well...I have a long list, so let me know!

Oh, and South Dakota-the Badlands. You gotta stay in the hotel there on the Indian Reservation, it's too cool. Tiny little bungalows (probably need two, we may have even had three, I can't remember) but the Badlands are so neat, and the Indian hotel is the only place you can actually stay IN the Badlands. You might check to see if they have hookups, though-with your RV, that might be an option.

If you decide to go to Dinosaur National Monument, be warned that the big dinosaur "hall", which has enchanted so many, is CLOSED for renovation for an unspecified period. We were so disappointed to discover that.

Last but not least, if you go West as far as Wyoming, stop in Thermopolis on your way to Jackson. They have wonderful hot springs open all year-my kids always beg to go to Thermopolis. They also have a VERY nice dinosaur museum there. Farther north, in Cody, is another "must see" stop= the five (yes, count'em) FIVE top quality museums of art, history and natural history, there in the town named for Buffalo Bill Cody. This is another place my kids ask to revisit. From there, you drive on to Yellowstone. There's actually a Geologic Guide you can pick up in Cody that explains the geology you will see as you drive to Yellowstone, with specific information on specific formations. This was a fun activity to do in the car, justifying several occasions of jumping OUT of the car enroute. From Yellowstone, on to the Tetons. Crowded with folks from all over the world, they are still the ne plus ultra of dramatic American mountain ranges. Also, the museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson is very "worthy", it is excellent (and the food in the cafe is pretty darn good, too) Lots of fun things to do in Jackson, despite all the tourists and ski bums.

What a great opportunity for you all

Kelly in FL

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Posted: Oct 31 2006 at 6:45am | IP Logged Quote MaryMary

Molly,

If you don't mind crossing over to the Canadian side when you are in Niagara Falls, be sure to stop at the Mount Carmel Spiritual Center. It is a lovely Carmelite retreat house that is within walking distance to the Canadian horseshoe Falls. Most importantly, they have a breathtaking collection of first-class relics of St. Terese of Lisieux. There is a lock of her hair (golden, not dark brown!)pages from her journal and more.

The website is www.carmelniagara.com
    

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