Monday, May 23, 2011

Five summer getaways every kid should experience

Every kid dreams of having the summer off from school.... the days of endless play and the nights of staying up late and sleepovers.... Lately I find myself thinking of what we were doing last summer at this time. We were getting ready for a huge move, packing up all of our belongings and living in our travel trailer for 12 weeks in the heat of summer!!! Sometimes I can't believe we did it and that we even still liked each other when it was all said and done, and then there is a part of me that thinks it was the best summer ever in summer vacation history. When I look back, I don't remember the small quarters we were living in or the lack of "stuff" we had around us, I just simply remember the good times, the laughing and the amazing memories we made during our travels thru 15  different states in route to our new home on the west coast...

When you look at it that way, our summer was what dreams are made of and the places we got to see are among the top of my list of things that every kid should get to experience.... So sit back with your favorite summer treat, get out a big atlas and come along for my list of five summer getaways every kid should experience!!

1. Local Festivals

This is one that everyone can do, no matter where you happen to be....It could be a Peach Festival in TX,  Apple festivals in Washington State or Lavender festivals in Oklahoma! Local festivals bring the community together and give our kids a chance to learn about the area we live in and take advantage of locally grown produce or goods known to the area! There are tons of festivals that go on across the country but my favorite of all time would have to be the Moose Dropping festival in Talkeetna Alaska!! If you look around in your community I'm sure you will find one just as exciting! lol I am looking forward to the Sandcastle contest this summer in Oregon! Maybe we'll see you there?

2. Food production

Again, this one can very based on your location. For our family it is really important to know where our food comes from and for our kids to understand the how and why of it all.  We have been so lucky to get the chance to experience so many behind the scenes adventures and I really think it's something every kid should get to see! We have seen where our Wilcox eggs come from, how Wild Berry candy is made and how to make bread at Great Harvest Bread Company but our favorite by far, and somewhere that all true Dr Pepper fans should put on their bucket list is Dublin, TX home of  Dr Pepper!! We got a tour of their museum, got to watch them bottle some grape soda and we each got to taste our very own bottle of Dr Pepper, made with pure cane sugar NOT corn syrup! :) Ours kids are still talking about that trip!

3. Zoo

And what summer wouldn't be complete without a trip to the zoo?! As a kid I used to love going to the zoo but as an adult I am finding that I appreciate going to a park that really tries to work with the animals and keep them in an environment closer to what they would have in the wild. Keeping that in mind, I think that Tanganyika wildlife park in Wichita, Kansas is a must see for anyone that is able. As we walked into the park, we quickly realized that this was no typical zoo when right in front of us was a giraffe enclosure that didn't include any fences!!! The park has used nature deterants like moving water and rock walls with trenches to keep the animals in but let them have the feel of being in the wild. It was truly a magical experience... even for the big "kids" such as myself! We even got to feed lemurs up close!! How cool is that?

4. Camping

Living in our travel trailer for 12+ weeks made for an interesting summer to say the least, so for us to have spent that much time in the trailer not counting the actual travel time, it would take alot to impress us with an RV park....the Flintstone theme park and campground did just that!!! It took me back to my childhood.... it truly seemed to encompass the joy of simple family fun. They didn't have fancy game rooms, and the pool was a bit small but they did have the charm of playing a round of miniature golf with your kids and the theme park with just perfect for little ones... I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, them or us!

5. National Parks

Now, anyone that knows me knows that I have a soft spot in my heart for state and national parks. My husband and I got engaged at Old Faithful in Yellowstone park, and were married in Chugach state park in Alaska so it's no surprise when friends ask me about vacationing at a theme park and I try to sway them into checking out a national park instead (Not that I don't love thrill parks too... I just like the simplicy of being out in nature!)  I think that every American should experience the thrill of watching Old Faith go off... or take in the beauty of Morning Glory.... I have been to Yellowstone park twice now, and haven't even experienced a portion of what I would like to.... I am so glad that my kids get to see such natural beauty and hope other families enjoy it as much as we do!

While I think of all the sigths in the world we could see...the ones in our very own backyard are the nearest and dearest to my heart. As we look off into the coming summer we are making lists of new places, yet to be visited by us and I am excited that we can offer these trips and sights to our children. It's the little things they will remember and hope that we will make many new memories along the way!

Welcome summer and may you have safe travels! :)

***I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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