If you are thinking about your upcoming summer vacation, try to find a destination offering natural beauty, history and lots of fun activities. When my children were young, we went all over the United States.
Below are a few of my favorite places that cater to children, parents and grandparents all rolled into one.
Williamsburg, (above) the 18th century capital city of Virginia, features homes, businesses and public buildings dating from 1699 to 1780. They have been painstakingly restored or replicated to the point where you feel transported to this period in American history. Costumed interpreters portray residents living in pre-Revolutionary times. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other patriots walked the streets here. After learning this important history lesson, carve out a few days to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Water Country USA, and nearby historic Jamestown and Yorktown.
Black Hills of South Dakota
The Black Hills are home to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, 1880 Train and Custer State Park with its wild bison and burros. Visit the haunts of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane in Deadwood, take a scenic drive, make a stop at a gold mine and pan for gold, go horseback riding or fish in one of the crystal clear mountain lakes. Once you are in the area, you can easily spend several days exploring nearby attractions including Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park and Devils Tower National Monument.
The Dells’ centerpiece is the Wisconsin River and its scenic beauty. For more than a century vacationers have traveled to central Wisconsin to cruise the river and take in the sights. Another famous attraction is its waterparks. Nicknamed “The Waterpark Capital of the World,” the area pioneered the indoor waterpark and today has the greatest concentration of indoor and outdoor waterparks anywhere. You also don’t want to miss Circus World in nearby Baraboo.
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States. There are several fun historic sites in the city including the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park and Castillo de San Marcos; the only surviving 17th century fort in North America. It was originally constructed to defend Florida against pirates hunting the Spanish treasure fleets traveling along the Gulf Stream. Check out St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum and stroll through the downtown historic district where you’ll discover four centuries of Floridian and American history.
Home of the 18th century Alamo and four other Spanish colonial missions making up the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas, San Antonio also offers many other attractions. A great way to see the heart of the city is a hop-on/hop-off trolley tour with stops including the Alamo, Tower of Americas, Market Square, Buckhorn Saloon and Texas Ranger Museum, San Fernando Cathedral, and Spanish Governor's Palace, and Riverwalk and River Cruise. There are also several family-friendly attractions: Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio Zoo, Sea World San Antonio, San Antonio Aquarium, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, and several water parks.
There is nothing as special as a family vacation. Start now by planning with your children. Determine your transportation, distance to the destinations and budget. Involve them in every step.
As the days and weeks leading up to your adventure pass by, the excitement will grow.
Just remember to have fun, and make wonderful and lasting memories.