Vacation ideas please


This has been just the most exhausting school year, and I haven’t had a real vacation in years and years and years.

So I’m looking for ideas.

I’m 40 and pretty active. (Sometimes I’m actively pretty.) I have a 4 year old son who loves to jump and run and sing and finger paint and get dirty. We love the outdoors and my son needs things to DO, not just see (although dinosaurs bones and aquariums are a good afternoon attraction).

I would like a vacation that could include at least my mom, and perhaps the other grandparents, and maybe even some teenage cousins and an aunt and uncle. I don’t want the option of doing dishes, or laundry, or yardwork, or homework (though I may not be able to completely avoid that one).

I’m a teacher, so the vacation has to be in summer.

I was thinking about something totally pampering for me (and the other grown-ups) yet fun for my son. Cruises came to mind, but I don’t know which ones would be good for my son, and a Disney cruise is just way too expensive for this year.

So, ideas please?



let the other relatives take your son and go to a resort by yourself?

not an option?

well, it is awfully hard to please everyone. we (us and our 4 kids and their families) are spending a week in a resort area in mid-Ohio where there are outdoor sports of all kinds, hiking, canoing etc., plus pools and other resort activities, games, recreation, plus museums and historical sites, plus of course good golf, plus a racetrack, lots of choices, so people can split up and do what they want. Grandma will have the baby, who will be 8 months old, so who cares what the others do, we will rock on. then the rest of the family will gather for reunion on Saturday at a state park lodge. Plenty of stuff for kids, men, women, families, so we won’t try to go everywhere together, just meet once a day for a meal or game. We are sharing 3 suites, so will be together in the evenings. also lots of shopping, crafts, Amish country and touristy stuff around as well.


Does your son like trains? How about a train ride? (if you have passports and can go to Canada)

Lots of the train vacations have cruise options, too, along with hiking and other sight-seeing activities.

My husband and I did a train ride to and from the Grand Canyon for a delayed honeymoon, and it was awesome!


This is tough–puzzleannie is right–it is very hard to please everyone, especially a four year old. I think you will get more useful responses if you could indicate if it must be a car vacation (don’t forget that gas could be in the $4 range this summer) or is flying an option. Are you thinking about a week? Two weeks? Are you ruling out urban vacations since you are outdoor oriented? The pampering would seem to rule out camping. If you could specify some states within your travel range, I am sure CAF posters will come up with some good ideas.

That said, it sounds like a themepark vacation would be a good idea. That would mean Disneyland/World, Busch Gardens (in VA it is near Williamsburg for a nice contrast), or the many others. Perhaps Ogleby in WVA, which is big on pampering but probably not as good for a four year old. Possibly, a beach resort would be best but is going to the East Coast or West Coast an option since your profile indicates middle America?


I’m partial to the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY.

Very out- doorsey – you can swim, fish, go to a county fair & see the animals, rent cottages on the lakes, take winery tours and so much more. A day trip or over night to Niagara Falls is easy to do as well. Niagara Falls has a fun Sea World type park where you can pet orcas and belugas (for a fee :wink:

That’s my vote :thumbsup: .


oops! I forgot about the pampering part. You won’t get pampered staying in a cottage on a lake, but you will get awesome views, nice weather, friendly people and a really restful vacation!


There’s a television program called “Finding Cash & Treasure” … the host, a young woman named Kirstin Gum visits places all over the country where you can pan for gold, dig for precious and semi-precious stones, find fossils, etc. The locations are in just about every state.

Kids of all ages can get dirty and find neat stuff … sometimes worth a lot … get some exercise and some sun and get good and tired out.

I think it’s on the travel channel.

There is also a book of maps that shows many (but not all) of the sites around the country where they are open to the public for digging. The book is the “Coast to Coast Gem Atlas” by Johnson & Johnson published by Cy Johnson & Son, Box 288, Susanville, CA 96130 $11.50


We are heading off to Rocky Mountain National Park for 2 weeks with my 8 y/o grand daughter this summer. Lots to do!


Check this out:

Twin Valley Bed & Breakfast and Horse Ranch
Walland (Townsend area), Tennessee
in the Smoky Mountains

Here’s the link:

I went two years in a row and highly recommend it! :slight_smile: :thumbsup: :cool:

~~ the phoenix


I got nuthin.

Vegas? There is a thread about taking a wee one to vegas. I posted a truck full of links. Check it out.

Vegas post 1
Vegas post 2


What kinda vehicle do you have?

If a minivan or SUV, get a popup camper! Sleep dry, stay warm in the cold (furnace available), stay cool in the hot (AC available), your active kid will never be bored and after he goes to bed you can enjoy the campfire and star show in any of our gorgeous National Parks. Frankly, I don’t know how people with small kids can stand one room hotel rooms; I sure don’t go to bed at 8:00!

It has the charm of camping out and much of the convenience of regular RVs. You do have to work (cooking, setup, dishes, etc), but it is so different from daily life that you enjoy even the work part!

Check out for enough info on the subject to blow your mind!


We frequent the National Parks.

Yellowstone/Grand Teton is a playground for any age who likes to see and enjoy outdoor activity.

Grand Canyon - awesome but can be dangerous in the heat if you are not prepared.

East - Acadia is incredible

Glacier National - Wow!



I suppose it depends on what your son likes to do. I took a cruise last summer for the first time and I know my kids would like that.

My kids also love amusement parks. Busch Gardens in VA is my favorite, but I also am looking forward to taking my youngest to Sesame Place.

One of my favorite things to do is to go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Beautiful beaches, historic sites, and lighthouses to visit.




Get a cabin and hit local tourist attractions in South Dakota - visit Mount Rushmore!


Let me preface this by saying I don’t have kids.

That being said, I’ve been on lots of cruises; and there always seems to be fun things for the kids to do. They have these kiddie camps (don’t know how the age things work so that would be a question to ask your travel agent or look at the different cruise lines’ websites) You can sign your child up for the day, hour, whatever; and then that gives you time to do what you’d like to to do with the adults. Then pick your child up and do things with him. There’s lots of things y’all can do separate and together.

If you’d like to e-mail me personally about some of the cruises I’ve been on, I’d be happy to give you my recommendations, opinions, et cetera. You can e-mail me at

Whatever you do I’m sure you’ll have a blast!!!



Y’all have given me some great ideas --:smiley: Thanks!

We live in Colorado, and driving somewhere is not out of the question, unless two plane tickets are less expensive than gas.

“Pampering” for me is getting a pedicure or a manicure once every couple months, and getting my hair “done” once a year. I guess what I’m really needing is to get away from the endless list of things that need to be done for a week or two.

As I read your suggestions, I got a good sense of what I’m looking for:

Suggestions about cottages, pop-up camping, and bed and breakfast places sounded really good. Although there wouldn’t be any pampering, it would be a nice time for relaxing, being in nature, and just being with my family without so many distractions. And with other adults around, no one would have to do all the cooking or cleaning.

His dad (a massage therapist) can take him to the theme parks on HIS vacation – he’ll need a little “winding up” after all those months of new-age music and soft lights :thumbsup: My son would love it.

Thanks again for all your ideas. If you have any others, feel free to keep sharing them. There are probably a few “lurkers” out there who will appreciate them as well.



You’re in Colorado? squee!!! I used to live there. I miss it so much. sniffle I want to go home!

Muller state park has WONDERFUL hiking trails.
Have you done Silverton and Durango? Mesa Verde isn’t too far… The Great Sand Dunes?


These are some of the places where we had wonderful experiences when our girls were little. We lived in the Tidewater region for several years, and simply adored Busch Gardens - a truly delightful theme park. It has great rides and I loved the idea of the different sections of the park (Italy, England, etc.)

Colonial Williamsburg is just fabulous, with something for everyone. We have stayed in several of their accommodations and adored the cottages - very beautifully decorated. There is terrific food, plenty of military drills, horses, actors in period dress…the whole nine yards. Jamestown, very close by, is wonderful, as well.

We also loved the Outer Banks of North Carolina (just a short drive from the Tidewater region.) We loved Roanoke Island, which has its own fascinating and spooky history; remember Virginia Dare, the first white child born in the New World? Well, this is where those settlers landed, and then, ultimately vanished. There is a wonderful open-air theatre right on the water, where they present a play called “The Lost Colony”. Andy Griffith used to play a major role in it. It is wonderful fun.

I miss that area terribly and can’t wait to visit again.

Of course, I adore cruises, as well. (I love any traveling that does not involve camping.) You might want to check out the discount cruise sites (my favorite is for great deals on cruises less than 90 days in the future. NEVER pay brochure price.

Good luck; I love family vacations!


The Albuquerque/Santa Fe region is beautiful, full of history and spirituality, and just down the road apiece!

For the kids, Albuquerque has a marvelous zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, and museum of natural history, amusement park. Santa Fe has El Rancho de las Golondrinas, which is a living history museum highlighting the Spanish Colonial period.

There are campgrounds galore, Indian pueblos, missions, shopping, spas, great places to eat.

Request the visitor’s guide at the above website and feel free to PM or e-mail me if you want specifics. There are other New Mexicans here on the forums who can also offer advice.

We are going camping at the end of April to the Gila Wilderness in south western New Mexico (near Silver City). We need to get away too!

Have a great vacation!


I second this. I am not the camping type, but a hotel around a national park is the best of both worlds. Acadia is absolutely beautiful! You can pick and choose what to do each day. One day could be totally sporty and the next relaxing.

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