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6 things to do in Charleston on a Girlfriend Getaway!

Where can you take a well-traveled girlfriend to celebrate a milestone birthday? Charleston, South Carolina proved to be the perfect place! Spring in “Chucktown” is fabulous as the weather is gorgeous and the city is bustling.

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Charleston is simply charming with it’s cobblestone streets, carriage lanterns and colorful, centuries-old homes. Loads of shopping, visiting historic houses of worship and eating fresh seafood along the harbor are also perks to coming to the Low country. Charleston is an amazingly walkable city too.

Here are 6 must-do’s when you visit this city of southern sophistication!

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1. TAKE A CARRIAGE RIDE – Begin your visit to Charleston by taking a horse drawn carriage tour of the city. Don’t be overwhelmed with the number of companies to chose from as they seem to be on every corner. We were very happy with our tour with Charleston Carriage Works. A one hour tour will cost $25 a person but you can always search for deals and coupons online.

2. BROWSE THE CHARLESTON CITY MARKET- Walk through this historic market as it is the cultural heart of the city. As one of the nation’s oldest public markets, you will find everything from local produce to antiques. It’s fun to hear the dialect of the Gullah ladies as they weave and sell handmade sweetgrass baskets here. We enjoyed sampling different treats and loved our time wandering around the Charleston City Market! The Market is open every day of the week  from 9:30-5:30 and it’s also open on special evenings as well.

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3. TAKE A HISTORIC PLANTATION TOUR – History buffs will relish all the choices of historical plantations to visit in Charleston. We chose to tour Middleton Place which is a preserved 18th century rice plantation on the Ashley River and is also home to the oldest landscaped gardens in America.

Ticket prices are $28 for adults which includes admission to the National Historic Landmark as well as self guided tours of the Gardens and Plantation Stableyards, a guided Garden Overview, “Meet the Breeds” and “Beyond The Fields” walking tours.

From experience, we recommend renting a car for the day you want to visit the Plantation. We took a cab to Middleton Place and it was very difficult to get one to come back out and pick us up. We had to wait awhile plus we spent more in cab fare than it would’ve cost to rent the car. Renting a vehicle for the day is easy at the Enterprise not too far up the street from the Visitors Center. You can head over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to explore Mt. Pleasant and fit in beach time if you rent your own wheels for the day!

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4. BOOK A COOKING CLASS – Our Taste of the LowCountry lunch class at Charleston Cooks was a highlight to our time in Charleston. Neither of us are gourmet chefs but we had a lot of fun watching, learning and especially tasting the meal of shrimp and grits followed by banana cream pie. Tickets for this are $29 and can be booked online.

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5. STAY AT THE HARBOURVIEW INN- I will be honest the HarbourView Inn was not my first or even second choice for our lodging while in Charleston. We happened to have planned our girlfriend getaway on a very busy weekend and lots of places were already booked. My friend and I couldn’t have been happier with the HarbourView Inn, even though it was a little more costly than where we originally had planned to stay. It was worth it as our room was spacious and the beds were extremely comfy. We started every morning off on this rooftop deck where our breakfast, which was included with our stay, was delivered to us. We also enjoyed the complimentary happy hour each afternoon as well. The location was perfect and we were able to walk to everything that we wanted to from here.

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6. SHOP and EAT ‘TIL YOU DROP- OK, so maybe eating and shopping should be number one on the list because it is a big reason of why we came here to Charleston. King Street, in historic downtown, has been named one of the 10 Best Shopping Streets in the Country and I have to agree. There are so many unique boutiques as well as some of the mainstream favorites to enjoy. If you need a sugary pick me up stop in Glazed Gourmet donuts on north King. I had the most amazing Salted Carmel Apple donut here and I’m still dreaming about it!

Love everything about Charleston and can’t wait for an excuse to head back there!

 

Amy Carney

 

Amy Carney is a freelance writer and model living in the beautiful desert in Arizona. She is a lover of all travel that connects her with her husband, four children or girlfriends. The Carneys’ just returned from a 6 month family sabbatical around the USA by motorhome!

 

Catch up with Amy online on her blog www.amycarney.com, Twitter or Facebook.

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Head to Biosphere 2 to support scientific research!

Looking for an educational experience for all the family to enjoy?  Biosphere 2 is an active scientific-research facility located just north of Tucson here in Arizona! Our family finally decided to take the 90 minute drive south to see what this scientific phenomenon was all about!

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The world renowned Biosphere 2 was created to better understand how natural environments generate conditions appropriate for life. B2 is the largest closed system ever created and was once home to live-in mission teams who explored the workings of Biosphere 1 (the Earth) by living here for almost two years. The University of Arizona now runs public tours to help pay for the facility and support education programs like summer camps and teacher development.

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Guided Walking Tours are offered every 30-45 minutes daily from 9:30- 4 p.m. The 75 minute tour is the only way you can go inside and explore Biosphere 2’s simulated tropical rain forest as well as the ocean, savannah and coastal fog desert biomes. If you are an active family, you will find the 1 mile journey very easy. There are quite a few stairs and the tour begins a short walk from the admission center, so do wear comfortable walking shoes. We were told it would be very hot and humid inside, but that wasn’t the case for us at all. We were actually very cold, so I suggest to wear layers so you are comfortable!

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Admission is $20 for adults and $13 for kids 6 to 12. Save your tickets stubs, as they are partially tax-deductible since you are supporting research! We actually bought our tickets in advance on TravelZoo, which was perfect because I’m sure we would’ve kept putting off our visit here except for that lingering expiration date was fast approaching! You can also buy a SciPass for $30 enabling you to visit three UA Science attractions for one adult admission to the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, and Biosphere 2.

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Zion National Park is #1 with our family!

We are amidst National Park Week so it’s the perfect time to reminisce about some of the amazing National Parks we were able to visit on our trip around the USA. If you haven’t made  your summer plans yet, think about heading to Zion National Park in Utah. It was our family’s favorite because of the beautiful hiking we were able to do!

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Personal vehicles are not allowed throughout Zion in the summertime, so you will have to park at the Visitor’s  Center and board one of these free shuttle buses. We also learned a lot about the park through the narration on board, which was a bonus.

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There are approximately 18 different hiking trails to choose from here in Zion.  The three that we chose to do in our first National Park visit were- the Narrows, Emerald Pool Trails and Weeping Rock.

Kids hiking Narrows

The Narrows hike was spectacular and a definite highlight of our entire 6 month trip! I wrote all about our Narrows experience when we were here last June. Check it out if you’re looking for details and beautiful photos! We highly recommend doing this if you’re up for it!

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It is a pretty short, but steep climb up to Weeping Rock. The kids enjoyed cooling off in the dripping water.

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Lower Emerald Pool trail is a beautiful low key hike! It is definitely tougher to reach Upper Emerald Pool trail especially when it’s hot out, but we were glad we did it!

What other family hikes have you enjoyed in Zion? Anyone heading there this summer? Wish we were! Happy National Park Week!!

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Cedar Fair over Disney for our family!

I truly don’t get the infatuation with Mickey Mouse. I have good friends and close family that plan nearly all of their vacation time to Disney parks. My dear Aunt even has a Mickey Mouse tattoo on her ankle and an old friend used to drive around her SUV with stick figure people wearing Mickey Mouse ears on the rear window. I really don’t get it.

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I know Disney does some amazing charitable work. I love them for that. But, who in the world feels right about the cost of a Disney trip these days for the average family? Just last week ticket prices into Mickey’s Magical parks rose again! DisneyWorld Magic Kingdom admission will cost you $105 per person for a day’s worth of entertainment and spending a day in Disneyland in the west will cost you $5 less. Ok.. if you have a young one under 10, you will save about $6 a ticket. This is absurd money for a family to spend time at a man made theme park touting employed costumed characters. Disney has done a fabulous job of branding I have to say. And yes, I’m aware that if you spend five days in the parks that your cost per day goes down immensely.

Our family of six has been to almost every park that Disney owns in California and Florida. None of those trips have been our idea or planned by us. We went because we were asked to go meet family or friends there. Some instances were fun and others not so much. Keith also used to play for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks when they were owned by Disney, so we spent a little more time at the California parks because we could get in for free. Plus, we could drive 20 minutes up the freeway to spend a few hours there. Now you’re talking….

Don’t get me wrong, our kids LOVE roller coasters, waterparks, junk food and an entertaining show thrown in the mix. They may beg to differ our aversion of the Disney parks, but they aren’t the ones paying $630 for our family to just get through the Magic Kingdom turnstiles. Don’t get me started on how much hotels, food and everything else will cost you while you are in there.

BUT, IF NOT DISNEY, THEN WHERE?

Theme park visits were not on our radar during our recent motorhome tour of the United States. We had no intentions of going to any, except Kings Island in Cincinnati and that was to go with the cousins who live near there. Amusement park entertainment is not something that Keith and I really enjoy or seek out when it comes to our family travels. Well, when we ended up booking this RV spot at Worlds of Fun Village in Kansas City, Missouri guess where we ended up? It would’ve been downright cruel to say no with this as our view.

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I have to tell you Worlds of Fun was a blast. It was a nice break from our “normal” and cost us only $35 a person for a full day’s entertainment. We could walk to the theme park and the attached waterpark, Oceans of Fun, for the one low price. We even walked back to our RV for lunch and to change into our swim garb for the second half of the day. Rent one of the cabins at Worlds of Fun Village if you don’t have an RV!

Worlds of Fun

Worlds of Fun is part of the Cedar Fair Entertainment group, which operates 11 theme parks and 6 water parks across the United States. Worlds of Fun is a traditional amusement park themed around Jules Verne’s adventure book Around the World in Eighty Days. The park has more than 235-acres of rides and attractions, including seven world-class roller coasters, thrill rides, and live entertainment.

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Oceans of Fun is one of the largest water parks in the Midwest. The park offers a wide variety of attractions for guests of all ages, including a four-story interactive water playhouse, a giant wave pool, a large water slide raft ride, several children’s activity areas, and more. Admission to Oceans of Fun is included with all tickets, and is open seasonally from May to September. We definitely could’ve used another day here!

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The other midwest Cedar Fair park we hit was Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. I grew up driving over to this amusement park from Indianapolis, so I have many fond childhood memories of this place. The cousins all had a blast together here and once again it cost us just $35 a person to enjoy both the Kings Island rides and their attached Soak City waterpark. (Well, we honestly got rained out of our time in Soak City but it made for some good family memories and photos.)

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My niece and daughter humored me by riding my favorite childhood ride, the Scrambler, with me.

I don’t think you need a Mouse to make your theme park vacation a success. What you need is your family and friends by your side, laughing and enjoying time together. And having a little more money in your pocket is always a plus! Worlds of Fun and Kings Island will be opening back up in April!

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Tips for visiting Mount Rushmore!

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You’ve seen the pictures and you know all about the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but have you taken your family to visit here yet? This was one of the greatest places we visited along our RV trip across America.

Here are some tips to help you when planning your visit to Mount Rushmore.

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  •  Plan to come as soon as the Memorial opens at 8:00 am. We got some amazing photos in front of the memorial before the crowds arrived. The lighting on the Monument is best in the morning as well.
  • Your National Parks annual pass is not needed here as entrance is free.
  • Parking does cost $11 but allows you unlimited entry to the Memorial for the calendar year.

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  •  This masterpiece, blending art and nature, is far more than a tourist attraction. The National Monument is open year round closed only on Christmas Day. We loved walking through the Avenue of Flags displayed in alphabetical order.

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  • The 1/2 mile Presidential Trail begins at Grand View Terrace, travels to the base of the mountain, past the Sculptor’s Studio and loops back to the Grand View Terrace. The second half of the trail does include approximately 450 stairs.

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  • The outdoor amphitheater just behind the information center holds many ranger programs. In the early morning it’s a peaceful place to sit and read the history behind what you are looking at!
  • Be sure to have your kids pick up their free Junior Ranger activity booklets at any information desk in order to receive a badge upon completion.

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  • Be sure to come back in the evening too for a totally different experience. The Evening Lighting Ceremony is an inspirational program focusing on the presidents, patriotism and our nation’s history. Beginning with a ranger talk, the program includes a short film and culminates in lighting of the sculpture. The program begins at 9 p.m. early in the summer and at 8 pm in August and September. Check here for correct times.

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  • We saw this flyer in town and decided to make our way to the monument for a 3rd time- for Sunday morning worship service. It was an amazing morning! Check out Christian Ministry in The National Parks to see what they are all about!

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Come visit George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln here in the Black Hills of South Dakota. You will be amazed at the beauty and serenity of Mount Rushmore in person!

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Why Wallace, Idaho?

One of our favorite small towns we visited along our trip was Wallace, Idaho. The town of Wallace is actually listed on the National Register of Historical places and is located in the Bitterroot Mountains surrounded by amazing natural beauty.

Wallace is in northern Idaho, not even an hour east of popular Coeur d’Alene, and just west of the Montana border. Wallace is right off the I-90 and is the perfect town for a fun and easy weekend trip.

Why should your family head to Wallace, Idaho?

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Just 12 miles east of Wallace is the Hiawatha Trail. The route is 15 miles long and includes 10 tunnels and seven high steel trestles. The views are simply gorgeous. The ride starts off through a pitch dark and somewhat wet 1.7 mile long tunnel. I would recommend bringing along a light windbreaker for this alone. The kids loved the thrill of this tunnel, while Mom pedaled her heart out and was very happy to finally see the sunlight streaming through at the end! Helmets and headlamps are necessary for the ride, but can be rented at the Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area where you have to go to purchase your tickets.

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Trail fees are $10 for adults and $6 for children 6-13. Pretty reasonable until you have to add in the shuttle ride back up.  The cost for this is $9 for adults and $6 for kids. You most certainly don’t have to take the shuttle and can turn your bike around and ride back up, but I think the shuttle is your best bet and I’m glad we did it.

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What else is there to do in Wallace?

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Historic downtown Wallace is simply adorable. There are lots of cute antique shops as well as fun restaurants and little museums. The downtown was a stones throw from Wallace RV Park where we stayed. We loved being able to walk into town and enjoyed riding our bikes along the Trail of the Coeur D’Alene’s as well.

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Take a guided Sierra Silver Mine Tour right here in town too! A family package is only $47 for 2 adults and as many children as you have! The Tour also includes a brief guided trolley ride around historic Wallace!

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We loved the three nights we spent at little Wallace RV Park. It is a tiny park within walking distance to town. Also, City Limits Pub and Grill is conveniently located right on the property. Full RV hookups right here on the creek are only $25 a night. Dry cabins are $30 and tent sites $15 nightly. You can’t go wrong here! I loved hearing the creek running right behind us!

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Lava Hot Springs, Idaho family fun!

Thinking of planning an Idaho getaway?  This week I’ll be posting three unique options for some Idaho outdoor family fun. Today’s suggestion is to head to Lava Hot Springs, which is located in the southeastern portion of the state. It is almost a 13 hour drive from either Phoenix, AZ or Seattle, WA, and only 2 1/2 hours away from Salt Lake City, UT. Lava Hot Springs is unique in the fact that it is extremely affordable to come here for vacation. Stay for a couple nights to enjoy simplicity and small town fun. Your kids will love it!

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Book spot #11 to have this rope swing right in your backyard!

We loved our three night weekday stay at the Lava Hot Springs KOA. This campground is quaint and oh so pretty nestled right on the Portneuf river amongst many mature trees. The owners, Kody and Andi, are super hands on owners and have really turned this campground around in the past two years they have owned it. Look at our gorgeous spots backed up to the river!

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The KOA is just a short walk/bike ride to Lava’s World Famous Natural Hot Pools as well as to everything in this little town.

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We also were able to rent float tubes right here at our KOA at a discounted price! We just picked them up in town and down the river we went over and over. So much fun!

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Our first full day in Lava we spent at the Olympic swimming pool/waterpark. We all had a ball here and the kids loved their first time jumping off the diving boards and various platforms. We bought day combo passes good for both the waterpark and the Hot Pools. What a deal at only $12.50 a person for the entire day! The outdoor waterpark opens back up in mid-May while the indoor portion is open during various times throughout the winter.

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Keep in mind that you will need to bring your own chairs, blankets, umbrellas, towels, etc. There is a reason this place is so affordable! It’s no big deal if you are prepared! You may bring in your own food and nonalcoholic drinks too.

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This Lava Hot Springs KOA offers options for every type of camper.  There are several adorable cabins for rent as well. The kids loved watching the trains go by on the tracks just next to the main road into the campground as well.

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If you happen to be traveling along the I-15 , definitely take the 12 mile detour to Lava Hot Springs for a couple days of family fun at this KOA! We recommend going during the week as we hear that the weekends can get a little crazy.

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Why your family should choose KOA campgrounds….

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When planning our 6-month journey around the USA by motor home, we decided that KOA (Kampgrounds of America) was the best fit for our family and that we would focus most of our stays at their campgrounds. They have almost 500 locations across North America to chose from so the opportunities are endless! As a sponsor of our family sabbatical, we stayed at over 40 different KOAs around the country.

Hands down, the KOA chain has the most family friendly campgrounds around. We loved their activity schedules featuring everything from wine tastings to flashlight candy hunts! We played tons of mini golf, rented fun bikes, took up fishing and just simply enjoyed the great outdoors. The Jumping Pillow was our kids most favorite KOA feature. Our four are begging for us to put one in our Arizona backyard now!

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I’m also a big fan of consistency which you can expect behind KOA’s Yellow Signs. If you haven’t camped at KOA in a while or ever, here’s a few things you should know:

KOA has introduced three new ways to help you select the right campground for your needs: KOAJourney,” “Holiday,” and “Resort.” These descriptive words to help define your camping experience and better match your expectations. I equate this to the Marriott brand of hotels.

KOA Resort CampgroundsNotice I started off the lineup with the Ritz Carlton of the chain- the KOA Resort. Anything resort is up my alley! Unfortunately, the four KOA Resort properties were not a part of our plan this time around. They are  Waterloo / Lost Island Waterpark KOA Resort (Iowa), Port Huron KOA Resort (Michigan), Cape Hatteras KOA Resort (North Carolina) and the Shelby / Mansfield KOA Resort (Ohio). Get pampered with true, resort-style facilities and amenities at these locations. You will enjoy endless entertainment and conveniences such as food service that allows you to never have to leave the campground if you don’t want to!

KOA Holiday CampgroundsKOA Holiday campgrounds are like your typical Marriott hotel stay- pretty perfect but a little more casual. At the KOA Holiday properties, you can expect deluxe cabins and patio RV sites as well as on-site activity schedules and options to keep everyone entertained. A lot of our stays were at KOA Holiday locations. Some of our favorites were West Glacier, MTLake Placid, NY; Niagara Falls, NY; Mt. Rushmore, SD; Mystic, CT; and Mount Pleasant, SC.

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The beautiful grounds at West Glacier KOA.

KOA Journey CampgroundsKOA Journey campgrounds are more like a Courtyard Marriott.  Less expensive and less fluff. They are usually conveniently located and great for overnight or short stays. You still get the same free wifi, Kamp K9 Pet Park, and a convenience store just as you would at the Holiday and Resort properties.

Some campers say that KOAs are expensive. Yes and no.

You will pay up to $100 a night for a nice RV spot during the busy summer months at a Resort property, but most will run you half of that. Hey, we did spend one “free” night in a Walmart parking lot in the beginning of our travels and I can tell you I will never do that again. Give me the safe, quiet campground any day of the week! KOA strives to give you what you pay for.

Sign up for their Value Kard Rewards program which will save you 10% off every stay, while earning points at the same time.

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Our family joined us in Mystic, CT and loved staying in the cabins here.

You also don’t need to have an RV or be willing to pitch your own tent to stay at KOA.

Many locations have new Deluxe Cabins, complete with bathrooms and kitchens. We stayed in several of them in New England, when our motorhome had to go in to the shop. They are spacious, updated and wonderful for a large family! I think you’d be surprised. Not only are they less expensive than a hotel, they are way more fun. Keep this in mind when you are planning your summer travels! The cabins definitely lend a more unique family vacation experience and your kids will love it I guarantee!

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Who doesn’t love roasting smores outside at night surrounded by family and friends? 

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10 Places where you’ll feel Proud to be an American…

Nothing will make you prouder to be an American than traveling around our beautiful country like we did. In no certain order, here are our top 10 spots that we would recommend you get to in your American lifetime… (Click on the blue links to see the full posts about each place!)

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1. Mt. Rushmore National Memorial- Keystone, South Dakota

This is one place you have to see in person. I don’t know if we would’ve ever made a special trip to fly up here just to see this American icon, so this was a huge benefit in traveling around the country by RV. I highly recommend making your way here as there is a lot to do in the surrounding area and it’s just gorgeous! Plus a friend just became the GM of the KOA here, so you need to go say hi!

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2. Kennedy Space Center- Cape Canaveral, Florida

Who isn’t in awe when learning about astronauts and space? Kennedy Space Center is an amazing spot to learn about our American history in space as well as view actual NASA rockets and spacecraft while learning about the future. The Astronaut Hall of Fame is just up the street and is included with your KSC admission ticket.

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3. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is just an overall gorgeous city so you will love walking along the Freedom Trail here. We started our day at Faneuil Hall and took a trolley tour of all the historical sites in the area.

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4. Kansas City, Missouri- Federal Reserve Bank

The Money Museum here was a unique, free  and fun way for us to learn about our country’s cold hard cash. The kids got to each take home a bag of shredded bills for a souvenir too. Kansas City is beautiful with all of it’s fountains and the World War I Museum is right by here as well!

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5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Another great tour we took to learn about our American currency was here at the Philadelphia United States Mint. We learned all about the history of our coins and how they are made. This is a close walk from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell as well. Philadelphia is such an amazingly walkable city with so much history on every corner! Walking around here was one of my favorite days of the trip!

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Lake Placid

6. Lake Placid, New York – Olympic Center

Upstate New York is amazingly gorgeous in the summer. I’m thankful to not be there at this time of year, but I can definitely recommend it in August! Lake Placid was the home of the 1980 Olympics and the kids loved skating at the Lake Placid Olympic Center as well as checking out the other venues around.

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7. Utah Olympic Park- Park City, Utah

As the site of the 2002 Olympic games, this place is outstanding! Park City is just beautiful in the summer and we loved spending the day at the Olympic Park. Not only did we get to watch several athletes train while we were here, but we got to have fun ourselves zip lining, climbing the ropes course and going down our first alpine slide.

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8. Washington, D.C.

Need I say more? Our Capital city is the #1 place to visit if you are looking to learn about the United States of America government. The National Mall is gorgeous and features all of the Monuments and Memorials. The Capital Building, White House, National Archives and the Smithsonian are just a few other favorites. You need lots of time to spend in Washington, D.C. as there is so much to see and do! We came in October and it was the perfect time to visit!

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9. New York, New York

One of America’s most popular attractions is the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The short boat ride from Battery Park over is really fun and the views looking back at the city are fantastic. When you get to Liberty Island you can take a self guided audio tour to learn everything about our Lady Liberty.

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10. Williamsburg, Virginia

This is a beautiful spot to feel like you are living back in Colonial times in this Revolutionary City. Engage with the costumed locals and experience firsthand the daily struggles of wartime. Colonial Williamsburg is definitely a little slow paced, but the KOA was one of our favorites and the area was gorgeous!

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Our top 10 favorite spots from our 2014 travels around the USA!

“So, where was your favorite place?” It’s everyone’s first question to us when talking about our epic adventure around the USA. It’s almost an impossible question to answer really. There are so many wonderful parts to our country. I’m going to give you our families Top 10, listed in no particular order.  Be sure you click on the highlighted city name if you want to read the blog post from the actual time we were in that area.

JacksonHole

Jackson Hole is full of beautiful scenery and things to do for families! Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are accessible from here. This tram up the Tetons is popular as well as the local Rodeo and Alpine Slide.

Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores, AL was quite the surprise. The beach is beautiful and clean with gorgeous sunsets. There are tons of fun family friendly restaurants like this one (The Gulf). There is a lot to keep families busy here! This was one of the kids top picks!

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Asheville, NC has been on my list to visit for awhile. There is so much to do here and coming here for the October fall foliage was awesome! There are many beautiful places to hike including this one at Chimney Rock State Park. Gorgeous Great Smoky National Park and the famous Blue Ridge Parkway drive is close as well. I definitely plan to get back here one day soon!

seattle

 Ahhh… Seattle. We definitely love our big cities and Seattle is just so beautiful in the summer. Isn’t the skyline perfect at sunset from Alki Beach? Don’t forget to take the kids to the Gum Wall at Pikes Place Market and take a ride on the popular Duck Boat tour.

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Coeur d’Alene is a beautiful city with lots to do. Hiking and jumping off the rocks at Tubbs Hill was the kids favorite! We are already planning to come back here again this summer!

St. Louis

 St. Louis was a fun stop. Not only was seeing the famous Gateway Arch beautiful, but the kids loved going to the City Museum as well! Six Flags is here and nearby Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park was one of our trip favorites too.

Myrtle Beach

 Myrtle Beach was the perfect family friendly coastal town! We loved riding our bikes from the KOA here to everything and the boys loved golfing, while us girls hit the outlet mall! We ate breakfast every day at the restaurant on this pier. There are amusement and water parks here, which were closed when we were in town, so there’s even more to experience when you visit Myrtle in the summer.

Quechee

 Quechee is on here because it was one of my absolute favorites. It is such a beautiful area and there are several fun things to do! The kids learned to fly fish and loved watching the glassblowers at Simon Pearce, where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner too! We went to Sugarbush Farms and learned how maple syrup is made and went to King Arthur Flour for some yummy baked goods. I’m getting excited right now, just thinking about this place although it must be very different there right now in the snow!

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 New Orleans was awesome and full of life and culture. We all loved our first time here to the Big Easy and ate more beignets than we should’ve. Listening to live Zydeco music while bowling at Rock N’Bowl was a blast! Be sure to read the post to see what else kept us busy here!

Zion

Zion National Park was one of our very first stops along our cross country journey. I sometimes wonder if the newness of the trip brought so much fondness to this place. I don’t think so though. Zion is stunning and filled with amazing family hikes! We were surprised how gorgeous the state of Utah was and this park in general. I’m glad Utah is easy to get to from Arizona because we will be back!

NYC

OK, if you’re counting this is actually #11, so I’m cheating. I had to include New York City because anytime anyone asks my kids where their favorite place was, they all say the Big Apple. It confuses me, even though I’m a big lover of the city myself. I forgot what Times Square and the hustle and bustle looks like through a child’s eyes. Very exciting stuff! So, it wouldn’t be fair to them if I left this hotspot out, even though I wouldn’t necessarily include it for myself. Because if I did, then I’d have to start adding our other amazing cities like Boston, Washington DC and Philadelphia.