Are you looking for a laid back, small town destination with beaches, wild ponies and one of the 10 best ice cream shops in America? Then head to Chincoteague Island, Virginia, the town where in 1947 Marguerite Henry wrote the popular book Misty of Chincoteague. This small town on Virginia’s Eastern Shore offers plenty to keep families entertained, with easy access to the Virginia portion of Assateague Island. We have only visited during the spring, but one of the items on my USA bucket list is to make it back for the annual Pony Swim (currently in its 92nd year!). It’s a little over 3 hours from the DC area, so perfect for a long weekend. Here’s a few things to know to help plan your trip.
As this post is published, it’s National Park Week, a time to celebrate the spectacular places around the U.S. that belong to all of us. Over the last 10 years, our family has taken several road trips to visit many national parks, including iconic parks like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But one of my favorite road trips was the one we took to the Four Corners region of the Southwest. We spent 13 days exploring, making a loop from Albuquerque, New Mexico, through Colorado, Utah and Arizona and back to New Mexico. The national parks we visited on that trip had some of the most unusual landscapes in the U.S., particularly the Utah parks Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion. Here are some things to know and tips to help you plan a visit to see these unique parks Utah.
If you have ever traveled to New York City, you know it really is a city that never sleeps. Over the last ten years, I’ve been there on numerous occasions, including a family trip, mother/daughter weekends and even as a chaperone on a high school trip. Usually we have at least one big activity planned, like a Broadway show, a shopping spree or a quest for pizza. But with so many activities to choose from, the thought of spending a few days in this vibrant city can be overwhelming. Here are 20 ideas to add to your NYC bucket list, from iconic sites to local foods, including several that are free or low cost. A few of these are still on my list waiting to be checked off later this year.
Imagine being locked in a small room with your family or friends, knowing you only have one hour to work as a team to figure out how to escape. That’s the premise behind escape rooms, one of the latest trends in family entertainment which have cropped up all over the country. The themes vary, ranging from detective style mysteries and spy missions, to high school detention classrooms and mental institutions. Most rooms are typically recommended for ages 10 and up, although some are geared towards older teens due to the nature of the room.
When you visit Washington, DC, you'll find plenty of advice about what to see, where to eat and how to get around. Of course, there are all the wonderful monuments and memorials on the National Mall, along with the amazing (and free) Smithsonian museums. But after living in the DC suburbs for many years, we’ve found that there are also many other cool things to do around town. Check out this list of 10 favorites for your next visit. I still have one or two to check off my list when the weather gets warmer!
If someone asked me to describe Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, I would say it reminds me of an east coast beach town without the beach! Think of a place with every attraction you can imagine for kids of all ages, a variety of lodging options, and plenty of restaurants and ice cream shops. Throw in a scenic mountain location just a short drive from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you have a family-friendly vacation destination with something for everyone. Our road trip to Tennessee several years ago was inspired by my daughter's invitation to a school related conference in Nashville, and Pigeon Forge seemed like an ideal spot to explore before heading to Nashville. With the recent devastating Tennessee wildfires in the news, I thought it would be a good time to finally write a more detailed blog post about Pigeon Forge and the surrounding area.
As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on familyTravelsUSA and how it has impacted my travel experiences. My initial purpose was to simply share a few family road trips but I can look back now and see that it has been a great personal motivator for me to seek out and share new adventures in the United States. Along the way, I hope that I have provided inspiration for readers to explore new places both across the country and in their own backyard. My kids may not remember every detail of every single place we have visited, but I’m happy knowing that I have exposed them to the great outdoors, iconic national parks, new foods, big cities small towns, and tons of fun adventures from coast to coast. So as you plan your next vacation, consider these 7 reasons to explore the USA in 2017 and beyond, no passport required!
Over the past few months, I’ve been making an effort to get out and explore close to home, so this past weekend, I decided it was time to visit the U.S. Botanic Garden. Did you know that it was George Washington’s vision over 200 years ago that led to Congress establishing the Garden in 1802, making it one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America? And what better time to visit than during December, when this living plant museum is all decked out for the season.
It’s that time of year again, when the weather starts to turn colder, colored lights are twinkling and the sound of holiday music begins to fill the radio. What better way to celebrate the season then to stroll through an outdoor market while sipping mulled cider or hot chocolate. Luckily there are plenty of festive outdoor markets on the east coast, including several that are modeled after the famous Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany. I think these markets are the perfect place to find unique gifts and handmade items for holiday shopping, and it’s a great alternative to fighting the crowds at your local shopping mall! Here are some popular markets to add to your list for 2016.
*This is an updated version of the 3 East Coast Holiday Markets to Visit in 2015, originally posted November, 2015
Why do you travel? There are so many ways people answer this question - to relax with family and friends, to enjoy the beauty of nature and the outdoors, or to eat local food and experience how other people live in small towns and big cities. Discovering local favorites is a big reason for me, like finding the best food in town or learning a tidbit of little known history. Whether we are hitting the road for a day trip, weekend getaway or longer family vacation, I’ve found that I’m seeking out organized tours more and more. My family and I have enjoyed over half a dozen organized tours in recent years. Among other things, we’ve learned about history in Philadelphia, ghosts in Key West, architecture in Chicago and pizza in Brooklyn. My growing appreciation for letting someone else lead the way stems from a number of things, as outlined below. But it wasn’t always this way. My family can attest that I’ve been known on more than one occasion to play the role of tour guide the first day in a new city, like when we visited San Francisco or Seattle. Or the time in Los Angeles when I knew it would be cheaper to grab a map of the stars and drive aimlessly around Hollywood trying to glimpse behind the gates. But was it really time well spent? How do you know if you should book a tour or try the “do-it-yourself” method? To help, I’ve put together a short list of benefits and drawbacks to consider, along with some tips that might come in handy in the future.