Monday, May 23, 2011

Five Summer Getaways Every Kid Should Experience #GreatGetaways

Childhood these days is fraught with difficulties I never experienced.   This week, my 10 year old is freaking out about passing her SOLs.  The teachers put a lot of emphasis on these tests (tied to funding!) and so there's immense pressure to perform.  Back when I was in school, we took a CTBS test yearly and it was more of a measure of what you learned, versus a "you have to pass!" mentality that my child faces.  They know the whole year long that everything hangs on your test score on the SOLs.  Me?  I didn't worry about test scores until I took the SATs for college.

Since kids are so stressed out these days, they need a vacation.  Something fun, exciting, and perhaps even educational.  Where to go?  What to do?  Here's my list of five summer getaways every kid should experience.

1.  Disney's Epcot.  Disney is not only fun, but educational too.  I think that parents should should focus a few days of their Disney vacation not on Magic Kingdom (though that's where the rides are!), but at Epcot.  Expose your kids to different cultures by sampling foods from around the globe and enjoy a Kim Possible adventure too.  Take the time to speak with your servers and ask them about their homelands.  I think the next time we go, we'll spend a lot more than just one day at Epcot.  Besides, that long walk around the world is good exercise.

2.  Your nearest Civil War Battleground.  Perhaps I am a bit partial having four Civil War Battlegrounds within a driving distance, but like your history teacher always told you, you should study the past to avoid future mistakes.  Recently, we visited the Battleground in Fredericksburg and walked through the Union cemetery there.  I saw markers of names that were in my family tree.  Was that Holmes from PA related to me?  Imagining the horror of war can be a scary thing for young kids, but they should learn that wars always come with a cost.  The trip to the battleground was educational too since it is covered in the SOLs in our state (and it was also very low cost to do).  Teach your kids what you know about history by taking them to a battlefield near you.

3.  Washington, DC.  Why not learn about democracy in our nation's capital?  Learn why the Washington Monument's stones are two different colors (Civil War!) and see where our country's laws are made.  There is a lot to do that a week even would not even scratch the surface.  Many museum admissions are free and who doesn't want to touch the moon rock at the Smithsonian?  For most of us, it is as close to the moon as we'll ever get!

4.  Niagara Falls (NY or Ontario - your pick!)  Having been to Niagara Falls twice -- once on my honeymoon -- I was just as awestruck the first time as the last time.  Did you know the Falls move?  The picture of us before the Falls in 1996 isn't where the Falls are now!  It may seem a bit unpatriotic, but the Canadian side is cleaner and better-kept than the American side.  But to be honest, the Falls must be experienced on both sides, not to mention on top of Skylon Tower.  Passport laws have changed since the last time I was to Canada, so be sure you study up before making this jaunt!

5.  Grand Canyon.  Nope, I haven't been to the Grand Canyon just yet, but it is on my list of things to do, hopefully with the kids!  The Grand Canyon is beautiful from the pictures I've seen and I must confess to wanting to visit there ever since I watched an old Brady Bunch episode on TV.  Flickr has some awesome pictures courtesy of the NPS of the Grand Canyon and viewing them makes me want to go all the more. 

Family vacations are an awesome time to reconnect and create memories that will last a life time.  I hope you'll consider some of my suggestions for getaways every kid should experience.  What are your top 5?  I'd love to know where you think every kid should go. 

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.


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