where should we go on vacation?

I want to plan a vacation for this summer. Anywhere from a week to two weeks. For the past few summers we’ve been going to the beach but want to do something different this year. It will be me, my husband, our 9-year-old son, and my mom who is still active.

I would love to go to Disney but that got vetoed by my husband. So did a cruise.

We live in the Midwestern U.S. Flying is a possibility but I don’t mind driving. We have passports.

I’d like to keep the total trip less than $1500.

Have I given you enough information for you to recommend a few travel ideas?

There are tons of places, but maybe you should give us your preference on experiences.

First thought for a Midwestern family is to drive to the black hills area of s. Dakota. There’s more then just mt.rushmore

Is camping a possibility?

We don’t have camping experience or gear but I wouldn’t outrule it.

I love the Grand Canyon but want to wait until my son is a little older.

On vacations I usually like a nice balance of relaxation and new experiences. I’d be happy sitting somewhere scenic and reading for a week. My son requires a bit more activity. He tends to be cautious so amusement parks with huge roller coasters or activities like whitewater rafting probably won’t be well-received.

We don’t drink or gamble.

We really haven’t vacationed as a family except for the beach and I’m open to just about any idea.

Some ideas:

[li]The Upper Peninsula of Michigan - Very beautiful scenery and many attractions. Lots of wildlife and very peaceful.[/li][li]Door County, WIsconsin - Again, very beautiful scenery and a lot of outdoor activities. Might be a little slow for a kid.[/li][li]The Driftless Zone - An area of SW WI, NW IL, NE IA and NE MN along teh Mississippi River where the glaciers didn’t press teh land flat. Very rugged with beautiful scenery. Great outdoors activities and little traveled by tourists.[/li][li]International Falls ,MN - Mostly outdoor activities but many lakes and wooded areas. Very beautiful scenery. Very inexpensive and somewhat lightly traveled.[/li][li]Isle Royale National Park - The least visted national park in US system. Very remote; accessible only by ferry. A great of deal wildlife and very few tourists. Easily could be part of a visit to the UP of Michigan.[/li][/ol]

Washington DC might be an idea. There’s stuff like the Smithsonian and the National Zoo that a kid would like. And the historical sites are famous enough that he would recognize them. You’d also be close to Williamsburg.

Buckhorn Lake State Park.

We went there a lot when I was a kid - around your son’s age - it’s one of the most wonderful places on earth. Seriously.

I was just on the phone with my brother and he mentioned Hilton Head and Mackinac Island as some other cool vacations we went on when we were around that age too.

1500 for 4 people means you pretty much have to drive, otherwise airfare and car rental will eat up most of your budget, especially during the summer, particularly if you go for 2 weeks. If we knew what state you are in, it would help narrow down the field.

Consider a road trip to Canada. I think you might even be able to take a ferry somewhere!

It’s safe, clean, fun, nice people, nearby and international! Go to Niagara Falls for a day! There’s plenty of lakes and beaches around, and festivals galore throughout the summer.

Good Luck!

Wow! Fabulous ideas and some I’ve never heard of at all.

We visited DC a few years ago sans son and I remember wishing he were with us to experience it. Seems like it might be the right time.

Sounds intriguing. I will definitely check it out.

Mmmm. Fudge. Great idea!

I guess I should have specified that my mom would pay for her portion. So it’s more like $1500 for 3. Still, that would likely mostly be spent in transportation if we fly so driving probably is the best bet.

Niagara has been on my “want to visit” list and since we just got the passports this fall we haven’t ventured up to Canada yet even though it’s only a few hours away. It’s definitely under consideration now!

Thanks to all who responded. I really appreciate all of the great ideas. It has made me realize that we need to be taking some long weekend trips, too. There are so many places we need to experience.

We live in Ohio but neither of us grew up here. I grew up in the south so most of my vacationing has been down that way as we visit family. I’ve only ever driven into Michigan to visit IKEA!

Thanks for being so helpful to a newbie! I’m glad I came out of my lurking status.

I’d like to second Door County, Wisconsin. There’s PLENTY for a kid to do, swimming, hiking, boating, fishing, pony rides, theatre, etc.

Are the Colorado mountains within driving range?

Go someplace different from where you already are.

Do you live in a big city? Visit some rural countryside area. Do you live in a rural area? Visit a big city. Are you surrounded by big trees? Then you don’t need to go someplace to see big trees.

If you haven’t yet visited San Francisco and/or surrounding areas (and perhaps even if you have), that’s always a good place to visit. In the city itself, and in the surrounding cities, and in the surrounding countryside, there’s plenty to see and do. Just search this message board; in the past few years alone, there have been numerous lengthy threads on things to see and do in and around the area.

We are going to Qui Nhon in central Vietnam; mountains, beaches, restaurants, airport, and cheap.

You know I like San Francisco but I like Vancouver and Seattle and Portland more. San Francisco has gotten so grungy (downright filthy) and has so many aggressive beggars (at least last time I was there).

For varying definitions of “close” - Williamsburg is 2.5 hours in good traffic and us DC-area folks know how rare THAT is :smiley:

If you were to consider Williamsburg, the historic area can be fun but I’d bet he’d be bored silly; there is also Busch Gardens (theme park) and Water Country USA. Both will be crowded as hell during the summer of course.

As an alternative, especially if you’re driving: Hershey and other areas in central PA. They’re less out of your way to/from DC than Williamsburg would be, and of course CHOCOLATE. The Chocolate World tour is “free” (though they have some add-on experiences that cost) and of course you’re dumped out of the tour into a large area with ever kind of Hershey product (edible and not) you could imagine. And the theme park is nice - I’m biased (as I grew up near it) but I like it better than Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion (and a LOT better than Six Flags, which is about 20 miles east of DC). If you go to Hersheypark, stop at a Giant grocery store in the area for discounted tickets - and if you go into the park after 7 PM (I think that’s the cutoff) that same ticket is good for the next day as well. If there are any mobility issues, Hersheypark is hilly, though they do rent scooters.

Plus Hershey is near Amish country which can be scenic. Depending on where in the Midwest, you may be familiar with the Amish but I gather the Pennsylvania community is a tad more progressive (judging by some of those ex-Amish TV series, I could be wrong) and quite willing to profit from tourism.

There’s also a train museum in Strasbourg, PA, which is fun for a 9 year old for a couple hours. Heading there, we were treated to the sight of an Amish man taking his horse and buggy through a bank’s drive-through lane :).

Harrisburg (near Hershey) has a nice hands-on science museum right downtown (the Whittaker Center) which might be right for a 9 year old. Parking can be a pain, but not as bad as, say, a bigger city.

Do not bother with Dutch Wonderland (small “theme” park in Lancaster); it’s targeted at the younger crowd and your son would be bored silly.

Another destination to visit is Baltimore - the Inner Harbor area has a lot of fun stuff to do and see including the aquarium, a WW2 submarine, an old ship, a science museum, the water taxi is fun, and it’s fun to go to one of the restaurants where they pile your table with crabs which you get to dismember and eat.

The surrounding areas (meaning, say, in a 100-mile radius, from Big Sur to Mendocino or inland as far as the Sierra foothills) are all within easy driving distance for a day-trip; so all that is still in the running.

I’m going to second The Black Hills.

Custer State Park is huge (71,000 acres), and has a really cool wildlife loop. You’ll see the infamous Begging Burros, antelope, prairie dogs and Buffalo. Maybe more. Wind Cave is right near by. Mount Rushmore. Crazy Horse Monument. Needles Highway. Shopping in Hill City (Dinosaur museum, multiple art galleries, some cool small shops all in a 3 block stretch of the main road). Hike up Harney Peak.

Nearby (relatively speaking) are the Badlands, Wall Drug, Devil’s Tower.

Just don’t go during Sturgis week, or you won’t find a room anywhere within 50 miles or be able to get into anything.

If you go to The Black Hills, you *must *visit Dinosaur Park in Rapid City.

I think I need to start planning our summer 2015 trip now. Seriously, I appreciate all of the opinions and detailed responses. I’m thinking east coast this summer with long weekends to PA, Michigan, and Niagara Falls. Then head out west next summer so I can plan ahead and book cabins at National Parks.

There are several years of vacations on this thread. Thanks!