11-things-to-do-in-philadelphia-with-kids

One of the favorite places our family visited along our 7-month RV journey around the USA, was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I had never given the historic city much thought, but boy was I impressed. We voted it the best walkable city along our American tour with so much to do, see, eat, and learn about!

11-things-to-do-in-philadelphia-with-kids

1. Begin at the Independence Visitor Center

Plan to start your visit to Philadelphia at the Independence Visitor Center, which is right across the street from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Independence National Historical Park.

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE: The Independence Visitor Center functions as the exclusive pick-up location for free, timed tickets to Independence Hall, which is important because sightseers visiting between March 1 to December 31 must have a ticket. Check HERE for all current details.

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ALSO, GET your Junior Ranger Activity Booklets while at the Visitor Center. The Junior Ranger program keeps the kids engaged while visiting the National Parks and they love building up their childhood collection of badges.

2. Visit Independence Hall

Independence Hall is the building where both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. It is now the centerpiece of the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.

How to Obtain Independence Hall Tickets

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The Assembly Room in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence

3. See the Liberty Bell

Across the street from Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell is displayed in the Liberty Bell Center. Admission is free to learn about and admire this iconic symbol of American independence in person!

4. Head to the National Constitution Center

We purposely planned our visit to Philadelphia during Constitution Week and got to tour the National Constitution Center for FREE on Constitution Day September 17.

At the Center, you will learn how the Constitution was drafted and ratified; how it has been interpreted over time; and what it means for us today.

Learn about ticket pricing and hours of operation and special events HERE

5. Take a self-guided tour of the US Mint

All tours (which take approximately 45 minutes) are free and self-guided; no reservations are necessary, even for large groups. Check the website HERE for operating hours and details, as the Mint is currently closed for touring due to the pandemic.

CHECK OUT THE KOA WHERE WE STAYED WHEN VISITING PHILADELPHIA BY RV

6. Send a postcard from the Benjamin Franklin Post Office

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Free Franklin Post Office & Museum is the only Colonial-themed post office operated by the United States Postal Service. It is a living portrayal of a bygone Colonial lifestyle, and it is the only active post office in the United States that does not fly the American flag (because there was not yet one in 1775 when Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster General).

Be sure to bring along your loved ones’ home addresses and mail them a postcard with the special postmark “B. Free Franklin” that is still used to cancel stamps today. The museum on the second floor features displays of postal history and memorabilia.

7. Visit Benjamin Franklin’s gravesite

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Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia is an important early-American cemetery and is the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and his wife.

Be sure to bring along a few cents if you plan on making a visit to the grounds. The Franklins’ tombstones are easily the most visited, as evidenced by the many pennies which are thrown onto Benjamin Franklin’s burial site. In addition to being a symbol for good luck, throwing coins is a nod to Franklin’s motto that “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

Check HERE for admission details.Benjamin-Franklin-Grave-Visit-With-Kids-in-Philadelphia

8. Grab famous Philly cheesesteaks for lunch or dinner

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For lunch, we walked the one mile from Independence Mall to Geno’s Philly cheesesteaks, which happens to be right across the street from rival Pat’s.

Both Pat’s and Geno’s are open 24/7 minus a few holidays and are regarded as “tourist traps” by any local, but for out of towners, the experience is part of the fun!

9. Run up the Rocky Steps

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After lunch, we drove a couple of miles to The Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art which are two of the most visited attractions in Philadelphia — and they’re both free.

Run up the steps, then turn around to cherish the spectacular view of the Philadelphia skyline. Then head back down to find the bronze statue of Rocky at the bottom that was originally commissioned for Rocky III.

10. Snap a photo with the infamous Love sculpture

One of the City of Brotherly Love’s best-known landmarks is LOVE itself — the Robert Indiana sculpture in John F. Kennedy Plaza (or LOVE Park, as it’s referred to by many). The sculpture was restored and repainted in 2018, and the park was entirely redesigned to add more green areas and a high-tech water feature since we visited in 2014.

The AMOR sculpture — a Spanish version of the LOVE sculpture — is at Sister Cities Park, a short walk from LOVE Park.

Did you know Philadelphia changed its nickname to the City of Sisterly Love for 2020 due to the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment?

11. At night relax in Spruce Street Harbor Park (Seasonal)

Facing the Delaware River, Spruce Street Harbor Park — open seasonally from spring through fall — creates the ultimate free hangout spot. Lounge riverside on colorful hammocks, floating barges, and Adirondack chairs, or play lawn games like bocce, shuffleboard, and giant Jenga games.

You can even grab a bite to eat from one of the many food vendors set up on the boardwalk. Unfortunately, the park looks quite different during the pandemic so be sure to check HERE before visiting.

I’ve only scratched the surface of all the amazingness that Philadelphia has to offer. I highly recommend visiting this beautiful, historic city with your kids.

Have you visited Philadephia for family fun?

What else would you recommend people check out?

Carney-Family-RV-Trip-Zion

Our family was camping before camping was COVID cool.

Families are jumping in RVs and heading to campgrounds this summer in record numbers.

Six years ago our family spent seven months in an RV journeying around the United States. We needed to stop the chaos that was our everyday life, slow down, and enjoy one another and our lives for a little while.

Isn’t that exactly what the pandemic is making us do right now, whether we like it or not?

No matter if camping is part of your 2020 plan or it’s something you are considering in the future for your family, you will want to get this new book- See you at the Campground.

See-You-At-The-Campground-Book-Review

The Authors Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi interviewed me about our RV Family Sabbatical on their podcast and when I saw they released another book, I had to check it out!

Whether you’re new to camping or a seasoned pro, See You at the Campground is an awesome resource containing everything you need to know from hiking with infants to navigating RV dealerships to mixing the perfect campfire cocktails. No seriously, anything and everything you want to know about camping is in this book!

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4 Ways to Choose Your Own Camping Adventure this Summer and Beyond

1. RV Camping Adventures

Are you an RV camper? Would you like to be?

As I said, we lived in this motorhome for nearly seven months of 2014. You don’t have to buy an RV to camp with your family, but it’s definitely not a shabby way to go. If you don’t have an interest in buying, you can certainly rent one on Outdoorsy and try it out for a little while.

Carney-Family-RV-Trip-Zion

#1 RV Rental Marketplace

2. Cabin Camping Adventures

Now that we no longer own an RV, our family camping preference is staying in cabins. To learn more about these types of camping accommodations you can check out my post from the San Diego, California KOA, and the Williams, Arizona KOA. Both locations even have fun alternate accommodations such as safari tents and teepees too!

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3. Tent Camping Adventures

I’m not going to pretend that I am in the least bit a tent camper. I am not. But, the few times I have done it, have been awesome. I can’t imagine doing it with kids, but maybe you have more patience and tolerance than I do!

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4. Glamping Adventures

Lastly, Keith and I love taking “Glamping Getaways” such as this one we did last summer at Autocamp near Yosemite. Getting to stay in a fully equipped Airstream in the middle of the great outdoors is heaven to us.

Autocamp-Yosemite

For your chance to win a signed copy of the book, See You at the Campground, comment which of the 4 Camping Adventurers you are and WHY you need this book!

One winner will be randomly selected on July 28, 2020, and notified by email. Must be a US Resident for shipping purposes.

 

Circle-Pines-KOA-Williams-Arizona-Family-Fun

Five years ago, we were traveling around our country in an RV with our four middle schoolers in tow. In honor of that epic trip, we headed north to touch base with the campground life once again. We chose to get out of the Phoenix heat and camp at the Circle Pines KOA Holiday in Williams, Arizona.

We sold our motorhome shortly after returning home from our American journey, but the great thing about this location, and many other KOA’s, is that they have plenty of alternative accommodations for campers who don’t have an RV or a tent.

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We chose to split up between this deluxe cabin and one of the tepees nearby. The kids had a lot of fun going between the two places. We gathered each night in front of the tepee for smores over the campfire.

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There are so many options for outdoor family fun here at the Circle Pines KOA. Our kids used to flip through the KOA directory and beg us to go stay at this location because it looked like so much fun. When, we told them we had finally booked it, they said, “we wanted to do that back when we were 12, not now.” Ha! Too bad….

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And as you can see, they had a ball. Playing Gaga ball together….

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Go Kart racing in the afternoons. The course on property is open to the public as well, but KOA campers get a discount.

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KOA’s signature jumping pillows brought the greatest joy to our kids on our RV trip and it was apparent that their love for them still exists today!

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The Circle Pines KOA Holiday location was a perfect location for us to take day trips from. Bearizona is just one exit west of the campground.

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Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is 35 minutes east of this campground. The owners of Circle Pines, also own the KOA in Flagstaff, if you wanted to stay closer to this.

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And our glorious Grand Canyon National Park is only an hour away as well!

The Circle Pines KOA was the perfect hub for our family to go off on day trips and come back to a relaxing environment where we could all find time to decompress and enjoy playful moments together.

Our family received no compensation for this review. I just love KOA and all of the joy, connection and playful moments their locations have allowed our family to share together!

Bearizona-family-fun-williams-arizona

Our family spent part of our summer vacation exploring our home state of Arizona. We headed up north a couple of hours and visited Bearizona for the first time.

Bearizona is a wildlife park featuring a wide variety of North American animals. You can experience a scenic 3 mile drive through the Ponderosa Pine Forest in your own vehicle or choose to take the Wild Ride Bus Tour like we did.

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We enjoyed the open air guided Bus Tour because not only did we get to learn about the animals and park in general, but we could see the animals so much better than we would’ve stuffed in our Suburban.

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You could take the bus tour and then drive through yourself after if you wanted! The cost of admission to Bearizona is $25 for adults and $15 for children 4-12. They also offer annual passes.

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Bearizona takes great care in providing animals with large, naturalistic enclosures and plenty of room to roam. Many of their animals have been rescued and rehabilitated here. The wildlife park is privately owned and receives no tax dollars.

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More animals are exhibited in Fort Bearizona, a beautiful 20 acre walk-thru area, along winding paths which is more of a “zoo” type setting. After our bus tour, our youngest was so excited to go to the Barnyard and pet some of the animals.

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We also enjoyed the Birds of Prey Free Flight Show and Nix enjoyed getting to ask questions about the birds afterward. There is also a beautifully themed restaurant here and several outdoor stands with treats and drinks. We stopped and took a gelato break! There was even live music on a stage right by us. We thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing few hours here at Bearizona!

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Bearizona was only 2 miles from where we stayed at the Circle Pines KOA Holiday campground! As you can see leaving the park, there are 2 KOA’s very close by. Both of them are owned by the wonderful Bell family, who we got to meet in St. Louis along our 2014 RV journey around the USA.

Thank you to Bearizona for giving our family admission to the park in exchange for this honest review.

Renew-Your-Family-Passports

As I scrolled Facebook, a post from a writer friend in California stopped me in my tracks. Arlene Pellicane announced that her family had to cancel their epic Italian vacation because the kids’ passports weren’t in compliance for international travel.

Next, I received an email newsletter from my professional organizer friend, Danielle Wurth, talking about how her family trip to Mexico was derailed because of a similar scenario.

Hearing their stories got me thinking about how you and I could avoid the stress and disappointments that they experienced. 

CHECK YOUR PASSPORT NOW

Seeing my friends’ international travel plans thwarted due to passport issues caused me to head directly to our safe to check our passport expiration dates. Low and behold, my husband’s passport was due to expire in 6 weeks.

We don’t have current plans to travel internationally, but thanks to my friends’ mishaps my husband was able to send in for his renewal and already has his passport back (valid for another 10 years) in hand for when he may need it. If my friends’ didn’t tell of their passport fails, we would’ve surely been in the same position when it came time to travel out of the country the next time.

3 Things My Friends’ Passport Fails Taught Me

1. Really smart people make mistakes

That means you and I are going to make mistakes, so we can relax knowing that failure is a part of life. My friends, Danielle and Arlene, are amazingly bright, talented business owners who have their acts together. It just goes to show you, that everyone makes mistakes.

Danielle’s husband was working on their boarding passes the night before they were to leave on their family trip to Cancun when Phil announced: Honey, my passport is expired!”

Now what?

2.  It’s an opportunity for the kids to see how you handle disappointment

When negative experiences happen that affect our families, it’s important that we use the time to teach our children lessons on how to handle disappointments, frustration, and failure. It is good for kids to see that their put-together parents even make big mistakes sometimes.

“The best part as a parent was, as it was all happening and we were realizing our trip was off, my kids (ages 9, 12, 14) didn’t get upset or blame me,” said Arlene.  “They said things like, “Mom, how could you have known about the passport? I mean, it was still valid (it expired in June, our trip was in March)” and “Mom, I’m so sorry for you, you’ve spent so much time planning.”

Arlene said, “It was a wonderful lesson on disappointment and that sometimes what you are excited about doesn’t come to pass…and that life moves on.  That was a really good lesson for all of us.”

What an inspiration to see how the Pellicane family regrouped and made the most of their family time together!

At the airport, the Wurths found out the only option was for Danielle and her sons to fly to Mexico as planned and for Phil to drive on Monday morning to the main passport office in Tucson (2 hours away). Danielle says, she hated to leave him behind and start their vacation without him, but they had no other choice.

“It was a gut-wrenching experience traveling internationally without Phil, who worked hard to plan the trip, and then was the one left behind,” said Danielle. “Having family dinner on vacation with one empty chair was bizarre and felt so out of place.” Luckily, he was able to fly out and join the family on Tuesday.

3. Our mistakes help other people

I’m so happy that my friends chose to vulnerably put their stories online in order to help others learn from their mistakes.

“Mistakes happen and lessons will be learned, but it’s important to be flexible, create a new game plan and a year from now it will be a great story in our family,” says Danielle.

Warren-Buffet-Quote-It's-good-To-Learn-From-Your-Mistakes

Use social media as a way to help people learn and grow from your experiences and mishaps. My friends’ stories helped our family and just maybe their misfortune will help you too!

3 Ways to Avoid a Passport Fail

1. Always keep your passport current

In today’s Amazon culture, we are used to being able to get anything we need immediately. Unfortunately, Passports are not one of them. You have to plan ahead.

Even if you don’t have any upcoming international travel planned, a family member might be traveling overseas and you want to be able to fly to them if necessary.

My friend, Kim McAvoy, learned this the hard way. Her mother was traveling in Budapest, Hungary when she fell stepping off a tour bus, hit her head and ended up in the hospital where she later died. Kim was unable to travel with her Dad and brothers because her passport had expired.

TIP: Make it a habit to check the expiration dates of your family passports at the beginning of every year.

2. Ensure 6 months of validity beyond your scheduled travel dates

Go ahead and renew your passport 6-9 months before you are to travel. Many countries won’t allow you to board the plane if your passport will expire in less than 6 months from your departure date.

Passports for applicants 16 and older are good for 10 years. Passports for children under the age of 16 are only valid for 5 years. Go ahead and renew early so you don’t have any emergencies.

Travel Smart: 6 Epic Travel Fails to Avoid 

Depending on where you live there are Emergency Passport locations which will expedite the process for a hefty fee. Desperate times call for desperate measures, but why not be proactive and avoid wasting your hard earned money.

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3. Make sure your passport is in proper condition

An expired passport is a common mistake, but it’s not the only one. You also need to make certain that your passport is not damaged in any way and also has enough blank pages available for travel.

Many countries require travelers to have at least two consecutive blank pages in their passports, while some even require four. Be sure to have more pages than you need for entry requirements. Passport and visa requirements can vary widely from one country to the next, and even seemingly insignificant violations can derail your travel plans.

For extensive online travel information, go to: https://travel.state.gov/

To avoid getting left behind at the airport, stranded at a border crossing or having to cancel your trip all together, make it a priority to keep your passport up to date and in good condition. 

Have you ever had a passport fail that derailed your travel plans? 

If the house goes up in flames, I want my people, my scrapbooks and my sand bottles.

Forget the jewelry, just grab the sand.

My sand bottle collection represents memories I’ve gathered over the past decade of my life.

The 46 unique bottles grace our master bedroom fireplace mantel and represent travels I’ve made near and far with my family, husband, girlfriends, or by myself. Each and every bottle is full of earthly treasure attached to stories of travel and exploration.

Our homes are a haven where our family story is told through what graces our walls, shelves, and mantels. Everything we choose to display in our house is a reminder of what we deem important.

Our homes are a tangible way to tell the story of who we are and where we’ve been. Look around. This is us.

Read more

Girlfriends escape to Sedona now if you’re in need of relaxation and rejuvenation.

My dear friend, Toni, makes it a tradition to visit me from Minnesota during her birthday month of April every year. I wanted to do something special with her this year, and Sedona was an easy, but special place to take her.

How to spend 24 amazing hours in Sedona, Arizona

From Phoenix, Sedona is an easy 2-hour drive north. Take the I-17 north to
the AZ-179 N exit, EXIT 298, toward Sedona.

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GET YOUR HIKE ON

Buy your Red Rock Hiking Passes at the Visitor Center/Ranger Station

This will be your first stop to pick up maps of the area and to get info on any trails to hike in Sedona. You want to buy your Red Rock daily hiking passes here which cost $5 a day. You need a pass for a lot of the trails and definitely at the ones I tell you about here. Make sure you stop at this location coming into Sedona. *Beware of all the places that pose as visitor centers in town, but are really timeshare sales hubs.

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We couldn’t resist posing with no other than Smokey the Bear!

Park at the Bell Rock Pathway Trail Head

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San-Diego-Metro-KOA

Home Sweet KOA. It’s been a while since I’ve been at the campground, but it still feels like home to me.

Even though this was my first time at the San Diego Metro KOA, the KOA campground brand brings me joy. Our family spent 6 months of 2014 living in and out of their campground locations all across the USA. I can see why this location was named KOA’s 2013 Campground of the Year!

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Now that the Carneys’ are no longer traveling by RV, the deluxe cabin is our camping accommodation of choice.

#1 RV Rental Marketplace

We met the owners, the Bell Family, at their St. Louis location while on the road and they graciously invited me to stay for their Wellness Weekend. I can’t wait to bring the entire family back here one day. The San Diego Metro KOA is a slice of campground heaven.

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There are so many unique things about the San Diego KOA. Let’s start with the farm to table food at the Sand Castle Cafe. For dinner, I ordered a turkey burger, that came with fresh fixings and delicious fries. This bowl of homemade granola was a treat for my breakfast. I just love the outdoor seating area too.

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I don’t think a lot of people get that camping isn’t like it used to be. You can be nearly as comfortable in the campground as you can at a hotel. This deluxe cabin features two bedrooms and a fun loft upstairs for the kids.

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The kitchen and living area are spacious, nicely decorated, and clean. I loved waking up to the Keurig coffee maker!

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This was the first time I’d ever seen the Safari Tent accommodations. There are four of them on the San Diego property and I definitely want our family to try this out one day.  There are two of them together toward the back of the park that I already told a friend that our families need to book together.

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The jumping pillows are my kids’ favorite KOA amenity and this location has two of them. There’s also laser tag and a rock climbing wall on the property too. The activity schedule at the San Diego Metro KOA is packed with fun things to do.

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The pool area, arcade, laundry and store are all well kept and clean.

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The playground, basketball and bike rental area at the front of the park calls out fun from the moment you enter the campground! There is also a unique four person ping pong table under the gazebo that looks like a lot of fun too.

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If you haven’t made spring break or summer getaway plans yet, try camping here. Your kids will thank you! Book your spot now as all accommodations are filling up fast and you can see why!

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We will never forget.

As Americans, we will never forget the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, and our family will never forget spending the 13th anniversary of this day in New York City.

I never truly understood the depth of the physical and emotional devastation here until finally witnessing it firsthand in 2014 during our RV trip around the USA.

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Branson-Missouri-KOA-Campground

What’s summer break without a little camping action? We have such a fondness for our KOA brand after their sponsorship of our RV Family Sabbatical in 2014! KOA put us up for a couple of nights at their Branson, Missouri location after picking up our foursome from Kanakuk Summer Camp. It felt good to be back with the yellow shirts we know and love!

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Manager Angie Dickerson with new Branson KOA owners Greg and Karen Wright.

At the Branson KOA, you can expect super friendly staff who are there to help you from the moment you check in to the park. They will also be in the convention center serving up free pancakes every summer morning. This perk is a huge bonus for our large breakfast loving family!

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Not only did we love going for our complimentary morning pancakes, but our commute to breakfast was quite short. This was the view after walking out the door after stuffing ourselves- our home sweet home on wheels, Ally B.

#1 RV Rental Marketplace

Our premium RV site was just perfect and we had a lot of room outside to sort through all of the kids’ trunks and bags after picking them up from camp.

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The Branson KOA is in a beautiful location just half a mile from all of the action on the main street. The pool was a well-loved spot during our days there. Adjacent to the pool was the beloved laundry room that I spent lots of time in getting all of the kids camp laundry done. I don’t know what I would’ve done if we were in a hotel with all of the stinky and wet clothes that they brought back with them! The KOA was the perfect place for us to regroup and unwind together before heading back home to Arizona.

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The Branson Main Street traffic is crazy! It is always bumper to bumper like this as most of the live shows, attractions, and restaurants lie along this road. Remember patience is a virtue and there are plenty of shortcuts from the KOA to keep you off this road! Branson is a unique family vacation destination known as the “Live Music Show Capital of the World.” I’m sorry to say that our family didn’t actually head to any of the shows this visit. KOA will recommend their favorites and can get you discounted tickets right there at the campground. Our family headed to Silver Dollar City Theme Park as well as did some go-karting at the Track and mini-golfing at the coolest Hollywood themed course we’ve ever been to! Check out my posts on the not to be missed Sunday brunch at College of the Ozarks and the tour of Top of the Rock as well.

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