5 Trips You Should Take With Your Kids Before They Graduate High School
As we all know, there is so much to do and explore and so little time to get it all done, especially when you have children. Having kids of my own, my husband and I make it a “must” to get our kids out and show them the beautiful world around us. Not only does it teach them new things, but it opens up their horizons to want to explore, learn, experience and just have some plain old fun! Having experienced a lot myself, I have found that these 5 trips are not only exciting but ones that the kids will remember forever.
1. Growing up in Virginia, Washington D.C. was a field trip many attended. It is a chance to
see the beautiful landmarks, learn our countries history and experience the city life. From museums and monuments to historic sites and the zoo, there is something for all ages here in the capital of the U.S.A. The most popular place to visit in D.C. is the Zoo! I myself have been a couple different times and would go again in a heartbeat! This is a day trip all in its own. Enjoy live shows and see animals of all kinds like pandas, lions, tigers, amphibians, monkeys and so much more! The Natural History Museum is another great place to go. This being a favorite Smithsonian museum, the kids can learn about human origin and get to view an 80 foot dinosaur skeleton, a 45 and a half carat jewel, jaws and teeth of different animals and much, much more. One of my favorites in D.C. is the Air & Space Museum. Learn about the technology of aviation and space flight, test out simulators, view live shows and see all the cool planes, engines and space items on site. Something else the kids enjoy, The Discovery Theater. With most shows beginning in the morning, everyone can live through the stories and folktales that are put on live by musicians
and mimes, entertainment the kiddos are sure to love. Want to learn more? Then check out the American History Museum. Use your imagination and learn about our nation’s history. See how transportation shaped America, demonstrations, storytelling, festivals and don’t forget to do the hands-on activities held at the Spark Lab. Take a stroll over to the Bureau of Engraving & Printing where the U.S. currency is made. Visit the Washington Monument and glorious Tidal Basin. And of course, don’t forget to visit the most important building, The White House. Whether it is at night or during the day, it is a fantastic view. Do your kids love animals and want to see more? Roer’s Zoofari is a must! They can ride on the Air Bus around the park, have animal encounters with birds, mammals & reptiles, ride a camel and even feed animals. If you are a sports fan, D.C. offers stadiums to watch games live whether it’s for the Redskins, Capital, Nationals or Wizards. This is only a small amount of events and outings for the family in Washington D.C. but it is a good start for a fantastic vacation!
2. A family favorite for us, New York City! With so much to see and do, many trips may be required but I can give you a few ideas to start it off. With parks, museums, toy stores and restaurants across the city, you will find many fun activities and attractions that kids, teens and even the adults will fall in love with. Ever heard of the famous 122 foot long specimen known as the Titanosaur? Well you can find him at the American Museum of Natural History where there are halls of dinosaurs and fossils. The museum’s Discovery Room offers tons of hands-on learning and throughout the space, build curiosity about astronomy, biology other scientific
fields. Burn off energy at the infamous Central Park. Ride bikes, walk or even run through the large green space that is surrounded by Mother Nature. After that, head on over to the Central Park Zoo to visit the Allison Maher Stern Snow Leopard, Central Garden & Sea Lion Pool, Polar Circle, Tropic Zone: The Rainforest and many more exciting critters. The Rockefeller Center is a popular plaza
filled with fun. Skate on ice, see the giant Christmas tree that sparks up every year during the holidays, window shop or even tour NBC Studios where the showsThe Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Seth Meyers, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and more. Chinatown is a perfect place to explore new foods and enjoy old. Try items like dumplings or even tiramisu. Take a stroll over to Brooklyn Bridge where the kids can hop on a carousel and everyone can see the Manhattan Skyline. Take a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry and view stunning things like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You can even visit the Staten Island Children’s Museum once you cross the harbor. Stand proud and visit the 911 Memorial Site where all who were affected by that tragic day can be remembered and loved unconditionally. Oh, and of course, my favorite, Time
Square! Live Broadway shows, characters of all kinds, shopping galore, Dave & Busters, Hard Rock Café, M & M outlet…oh my! There is just too much to even list them all. Whether you are a Yankees fan or not, The Yankee Stadium is a “must see” or even a “must do” for watching a game. Coney Island is a popular beach area with amusement parks and resorts located in Long Island. Walk the boardwalk and enjoy yummy snacks you find along the way. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has some amazing and beautiful pieces in it. Learn the history behind it all in this 2 million square foot building. I can go on and on about NYC but I will leave you with this and some other popular buildings to visit like the Grand Central Terminal, New York Public Library, Hearst Tower, The Guggenheim and the Chrysler Building. As I said before, there is just so much to see and do in NYC that the whole family wants to enjoy. Take a long trip, take a couple short trips, but either way, this is a road trip for the books!
3. One trip that should 100% happen, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida! No matter the age, this is a magical trip that all will love. Meet the legendary Mickey himself first, the mouse behind it all. Not only can you meet him, you can dine with Mickey and all of his friends including the beautiful princesses and handsome princes throughout the parks’ many restaurants. Make a wish in the Cinderella’s wishing well and cool down enjoying a Dole Whip (a chilling, popular
dessert). If you arrive just early enough, the Magic Kingdom puts on a welcome show full of citizens of Main Street and happy Disney characters. If you stay at one of infamous Resorts, take advantage of the “extra magic hour” for guests. This is the time to enjoy the evening with thinner crowds and walk-ons for the rides. The nighttime also offers entertainment of all sorts like parades. For example, Fantasmic, Festival of Fantasy, IllumiNations and much more. You can’t miss these extravagant shows/parades. Don’t forget your Mouse Ears! With so many prints available for all ages, there is bound to be a perfect set for you! I myself have a Coast Guard set and plan on getting another pair before our trip in October. Pin trading is a popular, fun idea the whole family can get involved in. Interact with cast members and trade out pins to find the ones you love. Get up close and personal with animals of all kinds at Animal Kingdom’s Safari. There is nothing like it. Sore over London, the mermaid lagoon and the crocodile on Peter Pan’s Flight. Make sure to ride all the headliner rides like Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Rockin’
Rollercoaster. Throughout the year, Disney World has festivals that are absolutely breathtaking. The parks glow during Christmas around the World. The Flower and Garden Festival send an aroma your senses with fall in love with. And this is just the beginning of many events the parks hold. RIDE THE MONORAIL! It is a must. Ride the loop or Resort hop, this transportation takes you from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and back again. Purchase the Memory Maker Package for hundreds of photos taken of you and the family on rides and hanging with the
characters. This will give you the opportunity to share the amazing time you had there. Whether rain or shine, there is many, many things to do and be done at the magical world of Disney. Book with your Travel Agent and make sure to get the ins and outs of a fabulous vacation the whole family will cherish.
4. Put those toes in the water and bottoms in the sand at any beach you can reach. Throughout the country, there are beaches of plenty along the coasts. Kids love the water
so what better way than to take them to explore the beaches in Florida, Texas, California and hundreds of more. Some popular beaches that are very kid friendly are Virginia Beach, Lagoona Beach, Key Largo, Pebble Beach, Nags Head, Siesta Key, Destin, Ocean City and the list goes on and on. My family is originally from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, close to the border of North Carolina. We explored many, if not all of the beach front properties in Virginia Beach. From the ocean to the Chesapeake Bay, it is a family getaway you will love. Take a day trip or even a 2-day trip further south to Nags Head, North Carolina. Surf in the waves, shop or just soak up the sun. The Keys in Florida is an amazing
experience. From the top of Key Largo to the bottom of Key West, there are beaches for days. Snorkel, swim, dine, or even swim with dolphins on your way to the ocean’s beautiful, glassy waters. After that, you can even head up the west coast of Florida to Siesta Key or even Destin. You will fall head over heels with the turquoise waters and soft sands. Located on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas, Crystal Beach is a quiet, 7 mile stretch of eco-friendly beauty. Popular for fishing and crabbing, there is an abundant of activities for all ages including a chance to rent a cabin, perfect for a simple escape. Santa Monica State Beach in California is flooded with an amusement park and great shops. Restaurants and hotels are close by making it easy to spend a vacation near this clean beach. Offering spectacular views, Cannon Beach in Oregon is home to legendary landmarks like Haystack Rock. Go hiking, swimming, have a picnic and get a little closer to sea stars, anemones and even crabs. The quality of water is honored at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon, Michigan. Located on Lake Michigan, this pet friendly beach is active but laid-back. Fire up the grill at Popham Beach in Maine where you can witness dramatic tidal changes. Head east to Sebasco Harbor Resort that offers cottages, a spa and waters
perfect for kayaking and sailing. A list that could go on and on, beaches should be on everyone’s bucket list. Hop in the car and begin the road adventures around the coasts. Touch down at as many as you can for an experience of a lifetime.
5. Named in the top 10 best National Parks in the U.S. is the magnificent Grand Canyon. With the highest quality pictures and hiking trails all around, this is a trip to explore! Take the opportunity to raft the Colorado River. Grab your water bottles, dry clothes and sunscreen because you are going white water rafting! For a calmer side of things, half day and full day
tours are offered in the northeastern section. More intense excursions are carried out on the westernmost part. Multiday trips are available too if you feel up to it. Enter through the Grand Canyon Village because Yavapai Point is the best place to view the canyons. Camping is offered here and if you don’t like camping, other lodging is available as well. Do some shopping, grab a meal but make sure to take the sunrise tour, it’s lovely! The relatively underdeveloped North Rim is less crowded with isolated trails. Visit Bright Angel Point to see the gorgeous Roaring Springs, the only water source. This 6 mile, steep trail is not recommended to hike all in one day. Pack camping gear and plenty of water if you plan on going all the way to Plateau Point. Stop by Point Imperial, the highest point of North Rim standing at 8803 feet tall! The most popular, Rim Trail, is the best way to see South Rim’s attractions and views. Starting at Pipe Creek Vista and ending at Hermit Rest, a 12 mile stretch, a shuttle bus runs along the trail making it easier to access points along the way. Love to
hike? North Kaibob Trail is the highest premier hiking adventure. The trail leads to the Colorado River, 14 miles to the Bright Angel Campground. Walking this trail is the Spring or Fall is suggested do to the blazing Arizona sun in the Summer. If you aren’t so much into hiking, take the mule-driven tour. It’s a blast! Havasu Falls, a desert oasis with crystal blue waters and gushing falls, is quite the hike but totally worth it. South of the national park and located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, is a 10 mile hike to glorious views. Plan on spending the night camping and make sure to stop by Supai after where Havasupai Indians sell snacks and souvenirs. Walk out 70 feet over the canyon on a large semi-circular bridge with a transparent glass floor. Attracting thousands since 2007, The Grand Canyon Skywalk hovers over 4000 feet above the canyon. It’s an attraction you won’t want to miss. Get entertained and learn the history of the Canyon while riding The Grand Canyon Railway. Landscape from Ponderosa and Pinion pine forests is stunning. Originally built in the 1800s to transport ore from Anita mines,
passengers are now carried between Williams and the South Rim’s Grand Canyon Depot. Many have said that the story telling and history behind it all is amazing during this choo-choo ride. Leave pavement and cell service behind for a remote getaway to Parashant National Monument. For marvelous night skies and excellent air quality, a 4x4 trip down a rocky road to the edge of Grand Wash Cliffs is a must. Stroll on over to the ancient waters at Pakoon Springs, the driest place in the world. Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places on earth to visit. With so many more activities, adventures and trails to be seen and explored, your family will have the opportunity to see this beautiful hot spot in the U.S., easy to get to and waiting for you!
I don’t know about you, but I love to travel and endure new adventures along with my family. You have 18 years with your children before they are off on adventures of their own. As they say “Work hard, Play hard”. Random trips are the best. Don’t plan a whole lot. Just hop in the car and go. Along the way your family will have the opportunity to see the country they grew up in and where they will raise their family. Teach them to explore, learn and just be adventurous. This will make so many memories that they will remember and cherish a lifetime. I may have only given 5 “must do’s” but there are many more places to drive on over to. “Adventure is out there”, go enjoy it!
Lindsay Kunz is an independent agent for Fairytale Adventures Travel Agency. She specializes in Disney Parks, Cruising and All-Inclusive Resorts. You can reach Lindsay at Lindsay@fairytaleadv.com or on her webpage at Lindsay Kunz Destination Specialist.