We just got back from a relaxing weekend with friends in the mountains in Southwest Virginia. It’s a place where the highway winds through the mountains, the rivers are wide, and the towns are small. Lately I’ve been spending more time in this part of the state, and I’ve come to appreciate many of the special things this quieter part of Virginia has to offer. There are plenty of outdoor options, like hiking, biking and water activities, especially during the warmer months, along with the opportunity to experience small town charm and home grown music. So next time you are heading west on Interstate 81 in Virginia, take some time to check out these 5 cool things along the way.
During our recent Maui family vacation, driving the iconic Road to Hana was at the top of our must do list, and now I understand why it's so highly recommended. Starting in the town of Paia, this popular stretch of highway heads east for 64 miles towards the small town of Hana, and showcases much of the natural beauty of Maui. Along the way you will find numerous waterfalls, a spectacular black sand beach and plenty of scenic vistas. The road is rather narrow in spots, with over 54 bridges, many which only allow for a single lane of traffic to pass, as well as over 600 curves with a minimal shoulder in many spots. You can choose to leave the driving to someone else as part of a tour, but I think it’s best viewed on your own time. Read on for 6 tips to help make the most of your drive, along with a short list of our favorite stops along the spectacular Road to Hana.
When most people think of National Parks, places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Yosemite might come to mind. But with over 417 park units making up the National Park system, you can find parks in all shapes and sizes, from National Memorials to National Seashores. In DC alone, there are currently 25 official National Park units, with another 22 in Virginia. While the National Mall and all the historic memorials should be at the top of your DC to-do list, the 4 places highlighted below are among my favorites, each offering something special. Here’s why you should consider adding one or two of them to your list next time you visit the DC area.
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!