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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!

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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?

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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!

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“Where was the favorite place you visited?”

It’s everyone’s first question when talking about our epic adventure around the USA. It’s almost an impossible question to answer as there are so many wonderful parts of our country.

Here are our family’s top 10 adventures, 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.

JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING

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Jackson Hole is full of beautiful scenery and things for families to do. 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, ALABAMA

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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!

ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

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Asheville, NC has been on my list to visit for a while. 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.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

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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.

COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO

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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!


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ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

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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, SOUTH CAROLINA

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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, VERMONT

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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 to learn how maple syrup is made and went to King Arthur Flour for some yummy baked goods.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

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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 NATIONAL PARK, UTAH

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Zion National Park was one of our very first stops along our cross country journey. Zion is stunning and filled with amazing family hikes! We were surprised at how gorgeous the state of Utah was and this park in general.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK

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OK, if you’re counting this is actually #11, so I’m cheating. I had to include New York City because any time 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!

What are your family favorite spots around the USA?

The past couple of weeks have definitely felt like winter in the south as we traveled through Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Brrr! I’m not going to complain though because we could most certainly be stuck in northern New York right now. Those poor people! But, that’s why we went through that area in August and not November.

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When we planned our route to Arkansas, we decided to go through Hot Springs and check out the National Park. This urban park is like no other that we’ve experienced in the National Park Service system. It is comprised of a series of old-time American spas lined up along what is called Bathhouse Row. You really have to see it, to believe it.

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The Fordyce Bath House is where the Visitor Center is housed and it is just gorgeous. You can take a self guided tour inside to see what an old time american fancy spa used to be like. The kids can also earn a junior ranger badge here and it’s a good way for them to learn the history behind these spas.

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Outside the Visitor Center you can feel the scalding hot thermal mineral waters!

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We were bummed that there is no actual pool that we could sit outside, like the other hot springs that we’d visited in Montana and Idaho. In order to experience the waters, you have to go to one of two spas that are still in operation. The Buckstaff Bathhouse has been in continuous operation since 1912 and remains the only bathhouse providing the traditional bathing experience in Hot Springs National Park.

The minimum age is only 10 to soak in a thermal water tub here. The downside is that it costs $33 and our kids weren’t too keen on the idea of relaxing in a private room by themselves! We weren’t keen on the idea of paying for them to do it either!

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You must be 14 years of age to go to Quapaw, which excluded our family. Of course, if the kids weren’t with us, we would’ve probably checked both of these out. So sorry, I can’t report on what they’re like inside! They are all beautiful from the outside though I know!

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There are several nice trails above Bathhouse Row. The Grand Promenade is really pretty and it’s fun just to wander around the town. Cute shops and restaurants line the other side of the Row as well. We loved the feel of the town even if we didn’t get to go to the spa!

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We loved watching the locals show up to these public fountains with all of their huge water jugs to fill. Nobody is buying bottled water around these parts! We took the few items we had in the RV to fill up with the spring water and we were laughing the whole time because we really looked ridiculous with our Tupperware and Aladdin pitchers as well as our tea kettle. But we had a good time and we wanted to grab what water we could while we were there too!

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Our home base was the Hot Springs National Park KOA and we couldn’t have been happier! We hadn’t been to a KOA since we were in Florida, so it was nice to be back to the yellow sign we know and love! This KOA was just a few miles from downtown and the National Park/Bathhouse Row.

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Our spot by the pond was just perfect. I loved that the Arkansas trees still had color, despite the cooler temperatures.

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Tortillas proved to be good bait for our sons at this pond, as they were able to fish right outside our front door once again! Thanks to the friendly staff and owners of the Hot Springs KOA for hosting our family for our Arkansas stay!

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New Orleans, Louisiana is one place that had been on my bucket list for a while. I was so excited to finally get here to check out the Crescent City. New Orleans isn’t necessarily known as a family spot, but I beg to differ.

Here are 9 ways to enjoy NOLA with kids in tow!

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1. Hang out in Jackson Square

This popular square is a perfect starting point. There is so much to see in just this little area. You can also take a carriage ride tour from here around the French Quarter. Be sure to go into the St. Louis Cathedral. Not only is the architecture gorgeous but this is the oldest cathedral in the United States still in use.

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Musicians, street performers, and other local artists surround this beautiful square. Make sure to have plenty of low bills on hand to tip these fun entertainers!

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2. Beignets at Cafe Du Monde

Grab a table on the busy patio at this iconic spot and indulge in the city’s infamous French donuts. They come in orders of 3 for under $3. Be sure to indulge in a Cafe au lait or Coffee and Chickory as well. Yes, we made our way here a couple of times.

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3. Eat more beignets at Cafe Beignet

We decided to become beignet connoisseurs during our three days here.  Unfortunately, the day we were here was freezing and rainy, so we didn’t get the live music that normally would accompany your experience here but a few of us did rate these beignets higher than Cafe Du Monde. You try them and let us know what you think!

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4. Eat Debris Poboys, Gumbo and Jambalaya at Mother’s on Poydras

 It does seem like all we did while visiting New Orleans was eat! There are so many great restaurants and new dishes to try here that you just can’t help yourself. We loved this local eatery for an authentic Creole lunch.

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5. Enjoy a night at Rock’n’Bowl

This was my favorite thing that we did while visiting New Orleans. We listened to some live Zydeco music as we bowled. Rock’n’Bowl was such a unique place and so much fun! We wanted to find a family friendly spot to listen to some local music and this was just perfect. Admission was $10 per person.

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The fun energy here helped my bowling for sure as I was victorious in our family’s game. It is $24 to rent the lane for up to 6 bowlers for the hour. Shoe rental is just $1.

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6. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

Who knew this little National Park was tucked in the French Market? Be sure to visit it and have the kids earn a junior ranger badge while learning about the history of Jazz music in NOLA. Then you can continue to shop at all the booths in the French Market.

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7. Louis Armstrong Park/Congo Square

While on the subject of Jazz music, make sure to take a stroll through this park which is on the edge of the French Quarter in the Tremé neighborhood. The beautiful park is dedicated to one of the City’s most celebrated native sons and to the tradition of jazz in the City. It is also very close to the Basin Street Station Visitor Center, which you will want to hit as well.

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This poor area suffered so much devastation at the hands of Hurricane Katrina that it’s no wonder they celebrate the end of hurricane season with concerts and other festivities. They were just setting up for this one in Armstrong Park as we were getting ready to leave.

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8. Ride a historic streetcar

Riding one of the streetcars here is a unique and inexpensive way to get around certain areas of New Orleans. We took the St. Charles green streetcar out to see the Garden District, Uptown, and the Tulane University campus. It is only $3 for an all-day pass to hop on and off the cars.

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9. If you’re brave, stroll Bourbon Street

We had been warned to stay off this famous street with the kids. There isn’t any point in purposely waltzing the children along Bourbon Street to witness insanity. We did have to walk along there to go to Cafe Beignet but it was very tame in the morning rain, so there was no action that day thank goodness.

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BUT, we were walking from Armstrong Park to Jackson Square on our last morning and happened to cross Bourbon Street. This was our view at 9 am. At least it provided us with some last-minute laughs. I guess it wouldn’t be New Orleans without a little crazy.

What are your New Orleans family favorites?

>PhiladelphiaKOA

Labor Day is behind us which means summer fun is over for most as kids have gone back to school across the country. Everyone that is but crazy families like ours who are choosing to roadschool. Campgrounds are much quieter and tourist crowds are minimal during the weekdays so September is the perfect time to be camping and traveling out east!

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Here in rural Pennsylvania we are getting the best of both worlds. A city experience combined with downtime at the quiet campground. This Philadelphia-Westchester KOA is a 50 minute drive into the big city. It is far from even a grocery store or even a highway.

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The kids working on their National Park Service Junior Ranger books outside Independence Hall.

I love visiting all of the major cities in our country. I am fueled by the energy of a big city! Philadelphia is an absolute historical gem. I would wander around here every day easily if we were staying closer. We chose to hang out at the campground for our second day in the area and I’m really glad we did.

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Sometimes we can get caught up in trying to fit in all of the historical sites or touring around and not take the time to just relax and be at the campground itself. I have to say, that downtime doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not used to taking time to just hang out and chill.

This trip is teaching me how important it is that we take time out to relax along our journey. The kids would never leave the campgrounds if we left it up to them! I’m so happy that this beautiful KOA afforded us the opportunity for quiet time in the outdoors or we would’ve missed out on these moments…

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A quiet picnic lunch by Brandywine Creek.

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Fishing and renting canoes…

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Time for our son to inflate his raft that he bought in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and take it for a cruise along the Brandywine!

Sometimes I get nervous about not having the kids in school or on their sports teams and I wonder if we’re doing the right thing. Then we have days like this and I am reminded that this is quality of life and I am so grateful that we are doing this family trip together!

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Our family purposely made our way to Philadelphia to celebrate Constitution Day along our 7-month RV journey around the United States in 2014.

In 2005, Americans began celebrating Constitution Day every September 17 commemorating the signing of the Constitution on that day in 1787. The beautiful National Constitution Center offers free admission on this day every year and I highly recommend putting this on your family bucket list.

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Constitution Day honors the day 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the United States Constitution right here in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

The National Constitution Center brings together people of all ages and perspectives, across America and around the world, to learn about, debate, and celebrate the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution.

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Fortunately, the National Constitution Center also offers us many ways to learn, teach, and celebrate Constitution Week from the comfort of our homes.

If your children are schooling from home or you want to celebrate around the dinner table, here are some great resources for you to celebrate Constitution Week!

  1. CHECK OUT the Constitution Center website HERE
  2. PRINT FUN ACTIVITIES Depending on the age of your children, you can find printable activities for them to do such as a Constitution word search or make an amendment cootie catcher HERE
  3. PRINT AND SIGN the ‘I will read the Constitution’ Proclamation with your kids HERE
  4. WATCH EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS HERE

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Have you visited the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia?

How do you teach your children American history and about our Constitution?

HERE ARE 10 MORE PLACES WORTH VISITING IN PHILADELPHIA

Three months on the road. Wow. Can you even believe it? We are too far from home to even call it quits even if we wanted to! There was a point where it would still cross my mind that we could run if we wanted. We could cut straight down from South Dakota and high tail it home no problem. But, now we are in Rhode Island with 24 states and 6,000 plus miles traveled behind us. And the best part is that we’re having the time of our lives! My goal now is to post on here more frequently and to get caught up with timely posts.

Last week was very trying I have to say. Everyone said it was a part of the adventure and most of the time I believed that. I returned from the funeral to my family and an electrically dead RV. I told you I was afraid to leave my family. I felt it. As frustrating as this past week has been, I wouldn’t trade going to see Mary and her family for anything. Not even with my family injuring Ally B while I was gone.

Now we can’t be certain that anything would’ve gone differently if I were there, but I find it ironic that this happened when I wasn’t. As the family prepared our motorhome to leave Lake Placid in upstate New York, while I was on an Amtrak headed back to them, something happened to the electrical system. We could still drive her, but it would be impossible to live in it as nothing electrical worked. The Lake Placid KOA General Managers, Chip and Julie, were amazingly accommodating and we are forever grateful. They put us up in a nice cabin for that unexpected extra night there. It was fate that we had gotten stuck in their campground because they really helped diffuse everything with their kindness and wisdom. I can’t wait to make it back to their beautiful campground one day, as I didn’t get to experience anything of Lake Placid.

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In the morning we headed off to get our motorhome fixed at a shop in New Hampshire. They asked us to write nicely about them, so I won’t even go there.

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This is how we lived for almost a week. In and out of the car, hotels and cabins. We managed to pretty much stick to our original travel itinerary of visiting Vermont and Old Orchard, Maine. We just now had to do it by car. By the time Ally B was fixed and we got on the road to Rhode Island though, I’d grown exhausted of hauling things in and out of different places. I realized that I’d slept in 8 different spots in 9 nights.

I also learned a big lesson in packing a motorhome. Don’t pack anything of importance or that you might need regularly in drawers on your RV slides. I wasn’t able to get to my iPad, camera or my underwear because we couldn’t get the slides popped out with the electrical issues! Here’s what we did while we were nomads this past week. Remember I only had my iPhone to work with too…

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We took the ferry from New York across to Vermont on Lake Champlain. Can you see us on this thing? I still can’t believe that a big rig like that can go on a ferry across the water? It was gorgeous out and lots of fun to do this too!

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 In Vermont, on our way to Quechee, the Gateway to New England!

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I enjoyed seeing all of the different covered bridges that this area in the upper valley of central Vermont is known for. The kids loved jumping from the rocks underneath the Quechee Bridge one afternoon. We noticed people doing this from the outdoor patio at Simon Pearce, so the kids had to try it. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Simon Pearce and watched the glass blowers working their craft before and after our meal!

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At Sugarbush Farm, we had fun taste testing all different cheeses and four grades of maple syrup! Of course we left with many in  hand as well. This is a beautiful family farm and a fun place to learn how syrup is made from start to finish.

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There is also a cute petting zoo where you can buy 50 cent feed for the animals. Mine still love doing this at their age even. I think it took them back to their farm experience in Montana!

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Fly Fishing for the first time…..

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We only had one guy catch a rainbow trout with a little help from our guide, Peter.

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We stayed in a cabin at this beautiful Quechee Holiday KOA. The owners were great in letting us switch from our originally booked RV spot to a deluxe cabin for our stay. Of course it costs double the amount, but it’s worth it.  The cabins are easier for us than a hotel room because there is more space and a full kitchen!

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This serene pond is at the front of the property. The kids loved fishing from here and renting a canoe to paddle too. Notice the leaves changing here already?!

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I love to bake at home and I only buy King Arthur Flour, so I was way excited to visit the King Arthur Bakery and Shop in Norwich, Vermont on our way to Maine. The bakery here was divine! I plan to come back here one day to take some baking classes as well.

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We only had one night to spend in Saco, Maine near Old Orchard Beach, but we loved our time that we did have here!

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Our next stop was Niagara Falls, New York. I hadn’t even looked into what the KOA was like here, as we were only in the area to visit the famous Falls or so I thought. We were all pleasantly surprised at the beauty and amenities of this KOA owned Holiday property! It honestly is one of our favorites of the trip!

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It was a short, easy drive from the campground in Grand Island to Niagara Falls. We had a lot of fun just walking all around and checking out the Falls from all angles. Our highlight was taking the Maid of the Mist boat.

I felt like a sardine being stuffed onto that boat, but you still have to do it regardless of not receiving any love on this thing. They just herd as many people on and off the famous boat as they can. But the experience and views are worth it, so you just have to go with it. You are also given the lovely blue poncho to wear and keep after for a souvenir.

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Did you know that Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls — the Horseshoe Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls — that overlap the international borders of Canada and the United States?

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I had brought our passports along on our trip and was patting myself on the back when we decided to go across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada so that we could see the Falls from their side as well! Here is the Maid of the Mist going into the American Falls. I have to say the Canadian side was beautiful and seemed less cheesy. Darn us Americans! Why do we have to cheese everything up with all of our discounted t-shirt and junk stands?!

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We stayed in Ontario for an expensive, touristy dinner at Edgewaters across the street from here. The views from our patio table were unbeatable though! We also got to see the Falls light up in their rainbow colors once nightfall came. We loved our time in Niagara Falls!

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Our National Parks annual pass is getting a workout on this trip! For a family who only had visited one National Park before this trip (the Grand Canyon), we certainly are making up for lost time now.

We purchased our America the Beautiful annual pass at our inaugural stop at Glen Canyon Dam, near Lake Powell. The $80 we spent for this is the best money we’ve spent on this trip for sure! The pass allows our family access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites. The pass covers entrance and standard fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle, including our big RV. Children age 15 and under are admitted free.

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We’ve already used our pass for entrance into Lake Powell, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Little Bighorn Battlefield, the Badlands and Mammoth Cave.

Another awesome program for families hitting the National Parks is their National Junior Ranger Program. This has been an awesome way for our kids to get involved by participating in the activity based program in each park.

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At the Park’s Visitor Center you pick up the Junior Ranger program workbook. Junior Rangers are typically between the ages of 5-13 and your age will determine how many activities you need to complete in order to earn your Park badge.

I wondered if our kids would be too old for this program, but it has proved to be challenging and fun for them actually. It gives our sons and daughter something to look forward to with each park visit. All kids love a collection, so why not start one where they learn along the way and earn something free to take home at the end.

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Kids usually have to attend a park ranger event, take a hike and answer many questions on wildlife and aspects pertaining to each particular place. The great thing about my kids doing it at this age, is that they can do the book by themselves or at least work together, which is really nice!

I think these programs would be pretty tough to do with a 5-7 year old. At the end of each experience, the kids share their answers with a park ranger and are sworn in as Junior Rangers before receiving a badge or patch from that park. So far, they have ten under their belt!

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Getting sworn in by cool Ranger Marc Ankenbauer in West Glacier National Park. Check out his amazing endeavor on www.glacierexplorer.com!

It has been a fun way for the kids to learn things that they never would’ve known before. They now point out sagebrush bushes while hiking and know what the symbols on the National Park Service logo mean. Two months ago none of us could’ve told you that!