Beyond Having Fun
Vacations are a special time when children are allowed to experience new things. They can be some of the greatest moments of their childhood, some of their happiest memories. They do not have to be expensive and you do not need a passport. Here is my list of 5 family vacations that will change your child's life.
#1--The Grand Canyon or any National Park--I have visited several and am always amazed at the number of international visitors, especially from Europe. These families have traded some of the greatest man made works to see America's intense beauty. The Grand Canyon in particular, but other parks such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Redwoods, the Smokies, Niagara Falls (technically a state park), and many more are nothing short of miraculous. Add a camping trip to one of these sites for a truly magical experience. Having your children unplug and watch the stars, eat over a campfire, see amazing wildlife, and hike to stunning vistas (many parks offer easy 1/2 mile hikes for families with young children) is priceless. There is something soul filling in these vacations.
#2--DisneyWorld or Disneyland (or another major amusement park if you refuse the Disney brand)--Completely opposite of national parks is Disney Magic. Probably the most expensive domestic family vacation, there is a reason Disney continues to make top lists--their parks are some of the happiest places on earth. Watching beloved characters come alive, going on magical rides and roller coasters, watching high quality shows, and fighting Darth Vader is like stepping into a dream come true. Here is where imagination becomes reality.
#3--San Diego, Myrtle Beach, or any beach destination--San Diego and Myrtle Beach in particular are good locations for families because they offer miles of beach in addition to a variety of other entertainment. Little ones love to play on the sand for hours while older ones enjoy the ocean, collecting seashells, and perhaps trying a little boogie boarding. Many beach towns also offer amusement parks, museums, aquariums, shopping, golf, and other attractions to round out a vacation. Seeing the ocean for the first time can be unforgettable.
#4--Winter Vacation. Because of school in particular, Americans often vacation only in the Summer or during Spring Break. A winter vacation one year, especially for tween aged children, can be a stunning experience. A snow vacation with skiing, ice skating, snowball fights, tubing, and hot chocolate can provide children with a new view on the outdoors. Salt Lake City brags of the best snow on earth with Olympic venues to experience at a reasonable price. But a long weekend at a snow filled destination closer to home can still provide a lot of Winter magic at an affordable price.
#5--Mt. Rushmore, Washington D.C. or other major historical site. Mt. Rushmore provides the beauty of the Black Hills, the opportunity to experience some of America's greatest caves, and is a profoundly patriotic site. A couple thousand miles away is Washington D.C. with the Presidential monuments and Smithsonian impressively teaching about the great legacy of American freedom. Other sites which might be closer to where you live include Boston's Freedom Trail, New York's Statue of Liberty, the Alamo in Texas, Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Alcatraz in San Francisco, Space Center in Houston or Florida, Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, Hoover Dam outside Las Vegas, and the list could go on. These places make history come alive and give children a sense of America's greatness and their own place in continuing that freedom for future generations.
In addition to relaxing and having fun on your next vacation, try one of these ideas to broaden your child's experiences, feed their imagination, and create powerful memories that will last a lifetime. Let your child connect with nature, appreciate America's history and beauty, or realize that dreams really can come true. It might be some of the best money you ever spent.