ONE RV ADVENTURE TO HAVE WITH YOUR KIDS IN EVERY STATE BEFORE THEY GROW UP
Image via Flickr/H. Micheal Miley
Go to Space Camp. Rocket scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun wanted a place to inspire kids about space travel, and the result was Space Camp, where kids participate in simulated missions, experience what gravity feels like on the moon, and spin themselves silly on the multi-axis trainer.
Go dogsledding. Whether you want to see the northern lights, explore Denali National Park or visit a glacier, get there by dogsled. The cold air in your face as you glide across the snow…there’s nothing else like it. Mush!
Camp out in the Grand Canyon. But don’t stare at it for five minutes and then wonder, “Now what?” There are plenty of wonders waiting to be discovered inside the canyon. Climb down and explore, then spend the night under the stars at Mather Campground.
Dig for diamonds. Visit Crater of Diamonds State Park to find your own gemstones. It’s the only diamond-producing site in the world that is open to the public, so start digging!
Image via Flickr/David Lytle
Take a road trip through Big Sur. The long, winding coastal road is one of the most scenic drives you’ll ever experience. Turn up the radio, roll down the windows, and just enjoy the ride!
Go skiing in the Rockies. Colorado has the best skiing and snowboarding in the country. Aspen and Vail are probably the most famous (and most expensive) slopes, but there are tons of other places. Try Keystone, Beaver Creek or Arapahoe Basin.
It turns out that most of Connecticut’s claims to fame are food-related. Get a burger at the place that invented burgers, Louis’ Lunch. It’s the oldest hamburger joint in the world. Alternatively, get yourself a white clam pizza at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. Did you know New Haven pizza is its own category, like New York style, or Chicago? Mmm…so good.
Stroll the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk and enjoy old-fashioned attractions such as saltwater taffy and arcades. Make a weekend of visiting Delaware’s beaches by camping out at Cape Henlopen State Park!
Image via Flickr/Katy Warner
Swim with the manatees. There are several manatee sanctuaries in Florida, such as Blue Spring State Park and Manatee Springs State Park, but the only place that offers in-water tours of a manatee habitat is Three Sisters Spring. Get up close and personal with Florida’s gentle giants!
Take a ghost tour in Savannah, a city lucky enough to be both beautiful and creepy at the same time. It might be the most haunted city in America, and it’s teeming with ghost tours. Explore Bonaventure Cemetery after hours, tour the city in an actual hearse, and hear all the tales about the darkest murders in town.
See a lava flow. This is hard to plan, because sometimes the lava isn’t active, and sometimes the weather prevents a good view. Try the Jaggar Museum and Overlook for a peek into Halema’uma’u Crater, or take a guided lava tour to get right up to the flow.
Go hot spring hopping! Idaho has the most useable hot springs in the country: there are about 130 total. Try Lava Hot Springs, Nat-Soo-Pah Hot Springs and many more.
Image via Flickr/Sam Howitz
Watch a baseball game at Wrigley Field! The Chicago Cubs have called this historic stadium home since 1914, and everything about it, from the ivy-covered outfield to the vintage scoreboard, is classic Americana. Bonus points if you eat a Chicago-style hot dog while you watch the game!
The RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum is in Indiana. See the best of what the RVing world has to offer, and maybe come away with some inspiration for your own adventures. It might seem like a small niche museum, but their collection of vehicles, from retro campers to the latest models, is definitely impressive!
Attend the Iowa State Fair. It’s one of the biggest state fairs in the country, and was the inspiration for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical State Fair. See the famous butter cow (actually carved out of butter), tons of musical guests, and more than 70 different kinds of food on a stick.
Chase a tornado. There’s never a guarantee, of course, but Storm Chasing Adventure Tours does promise, at the very least, some great lightning shows and epic scenery. Wilson State Park is conveniently located right in the middle of the grassland plains state’s rolling beauty, making it easy to get to any epic storm.
See a horse race. Take a tour of Churchill Downs, the legendary home of the Kentucky Derby. Watch a race, place a bet, and admire all the pretty horses.
Image via Flickr/David Ohmer
A jazz crawl is probably not a great idea for small children, but older kids might appreciate the incredible music scene happening in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
See the first sunrise on Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park. During the fall and winter, Cadillac Mountain has the first view of the sun rising over the horizon. Luckily, you don’t have to hike in the dark to get there; you can drive — which is super easy when you camp in the park (we love Seawall Campground). Make sure to get there early, since parking is limited.
See the wild horses on Assateague Island. Enjoy a day on a beautiful beach while wild ponies frolic nearby. The park has gorgeous white sand beaches and ocean water that’s perfect for swimming, but the island is best known for its herds of wild Chincoteague ponies that roam the beaches. There’s a story that the wild ponies are the descendants of a herd of ponies who survived a shipwreck, but it’s more likely that local citizens were corralling their ponies on the island to avoid paying taxes on fences on the mainland, and these ponies are the descendants from those. Bonus: there are tons of campsites here!
Walk the Freedom Trail. See where this country began at the Boston Massacre site, Paul Revere’s House, and the Bunker Hill Monument. The 2.5 mile trail takes you past an impressive 17 sites important to the birth of our nation.
Image via Flickr/Rachel Kramer
Explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Michigan has a gorgeous freshwater coastline, and one of its highlights is the Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was named “the most beautiful place in America” on Good Morning America in 2011. The kids will wear themselves out running up and sliding down the dunes while you enjoy superb views of the Great Lakes.
Paddle through the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Boundary Waters are a series of lakes connected by canals, so you can kayak from lake to lake to lake. Also, check out the headwaters of the Mississippi River!
See where the first Coca-Cola was bottled. The Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum tells the history of America’s most popular soft drink. Even though Coke was invented in Atlanta, the soft drink wouldn’t have reached the popularity it enjoys today without Biedenharn’s bottling method! Put it in park at the historic Askew’s Landing Campground nearby.
Climb the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. The Gateway Arch (officially, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) was built in the 1960s as a symbol of progress. It still stands as one of the most popular man-made attractions in the country, and offers gorgeous views.
Image via Flickr/Pat (Cletch) Williams
Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road. Travel down one of the most dramatic roads you’ll ever see. It’s carved into the cliffs within Glacier National Park, and winds around mountains, giving you the feeling of driving into the heavens. Oh, and movie buffs will appreciate that it was featured in the opening credits of The Shining.
Visit the world’s largest indoor rainforest. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha has been rated the world’s best zoo by TripAdvisor, surpassing even the San Diego Zoo. The zoo’s indoor rainforest is home to 90 species, and features an indoor desert that’s also the largest of its kind in the world.
Delve into Great Basin National Park’s Lehman Caves. These ornate marble caves are covered in elaborate stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone, popcorn, and more stone formations than you can imagine.
Climb Mount Washington. It’s the highest point in New England. You can hike (but beware of sudden and drastic weather changes), drive or even take a train. Bonus: If you drive, you get to bring home a nifty bumper sticker.
Image via Flickr/ozge can
Enjoy the Atlantic City Boardwalk. It’s the oldest of its kind, and full of fun for the whole family. Visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not, watch the light show after dark, and ride the rides. It’s a vibrant part of NJ after all these years. Belleplain State Forest, a few miles away, was developed in the 1930s, and has a similar old-school vibe, along with tons of nice campsites.
Check out the biggest balloon rally in the world. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta happens in New Mexico every fall. Watch the night sky light up with glowing hot air balloons of every shape and size.
Hike in Watkins Glen State Park. It looks like something from a fairy tale…definitely not the kind of place you’d expect to find in New York! Hike around the waterfall-filled gorges, which are especially breathtaking in the fall, and then head back to the RV for s’mores over the campfire!
Visit the Outer Banks. North Carolina’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the country. Open beachfronts, a temperate climate, and clear sparkling water all add up to the perfect seashore experience.
Stand in the exact geographic center of North America. Rugby, ND has a monument marking the spot. It’s a great “why not?” destination.
Image via Flickr/Erik Drost
Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s great for all ages, due to the new “Right Here, Right Now” exhibit that includes contemporary artists. Spy John Lennon’s guitar, Michael Jackson’s glove, and Lady Gaga’s meat dress all under one roof!
Visit the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Oklahoma is still a land of cowboys, so it makes sense for the state to have a cowboy museum. It’s full of authentic cowboy memorabilia as well as props from famous Western movies.
Ride the wind. Did you know Hood River is the windsurfing capital of the world? Sign the kids up for a few windsurfing lessons at one of the local shops, and take advantage of the epic winds blowing through the Columbia River Gorge.
Tour Amish Country. Amish culture is a unique phenomenon in this country, and visiting the Amish in Pennsylvania is a great way to learn about a lifestyle completely foreign to the rest of us. Old Mill Stream Campground makes the perfect base for exploring Lancaster and other parts of PA’s Amish Country.
Image via Flickr/David
See how the one percent lived. The Newport mansions are where the rich and super rich of the Gilded Age spent their summers. You’ll see houses built entirely of marble, mansions modeled after Versailles, and magnificent topiary gardens.
Explore historic Charleston. Beautiful homes, historic streets, delicious Southern food, and exquisite gardens make Charleston the jewel of SC. Take a carriage ride, explore the parks, and take a boat tour of the harbor to see the best the city has to offer.
See the Presidents. Mount Rushmore is one of the most recognizable monuments in the country. You can’t visit South Dakota without stopping by.
Image via Flickr/Mark Gstohl
Visit the King. The music scene in Tennessee is a huge part of the local culture, and Elvis’ Graceland is an ultimate road trip destination. Visit his grave, tour his house, and relive the glory days of rock ‘n’ roll.
See a rodeo. Texas does everything big, including live entertainment. Watch cowboys strut their stuff in the ring, join in square dances, and eat all the BBQ than you can handle. It’s a modern frontier experience you’ll never forget.
Hike to the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. There are many natural wonders in Utah, but the Delicate Arch is such an impressive sight, it beats out all the others. Take your picture under the arch to give your friends a sense of just how big it is.
See ice cream being made. A lot of wonderful things come out of Vermont, but the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory tops the list. Take a short tour of the operation, sample experimental flavors, and enjoy flavors not sold in stores in the Scoop Shop. Head back to Little River State Park to camp out…and maybe do a little hiking to burn off the ice cream calories.
Image via Flickr/Joe Ross
Visit Colonial Williamsburg. This living museum is an authentic colonial town, complete with actors in costume working in shops and businesses. Kids will enjoy the interactive exhibits, and hopefully learn a little history at the same time.
Shop at Pike Place Market. Pike is so much more than a farmer’s market; it’s an experience. It has tons of food, flowers and entertainment. Take a picture in front of the gum wall to gross out your kids! Pick up some snacks for the trip out to nearby Fay Bainbridge State Park, where you can enjoy views of the Pacific while you camp out.
Finally answer the question: If all my friends jumped off a bridge, would I jump too? The Bridge Day Festival in WV on the New River Gorge Bridge is one of the biggest extreme sport events in the world. Approximately 80,000 people will watch hundreds of BASE jumpers leap 876 feet to the river below. It’s a huge event, and the only time pedestrians are permitted on the bridge.
Image via Flickr/cursedthing
Get wet and wild at one of the Wisconsin Dells’ many water parks. The first thing you think of when you hear “Wisconsin” is probably not water parks, but the Dells are actually the water park capital of the world. There are enough water parks (indoors and outdoors) to keep your kids busy for days.
Go to Yellowstone National Park. It’s an iconic destination that you just have to visit. Enjoy the geysers, the bison and fabulous views. You could spend weeks here without getting bored.