vacation you've taken?
DH and I have never taken a weekend to be alone. We've never been away from the kids. Not even for a honeymoon. We always said we'd take one after we were married. Well, 7 yrs. and 4 kids later, we've come to realize that its just not going to happen. So we decided in the fall to do something totally out of character for us and take a week long vacation w/our whole family. We really have to. My DH works 90 hrs. a wk and its really taking its toll on him. While he's working so much, taking care of everything else has taken its toll on me. To be quite honest, its straining our marriage and testing our parenting skills. For our relationships sake and of course to re-charge as parents, we need a vacation. DH's parents, grandparents, and siblings (all grown) are coming. They are coming along to help us w/our kids so we can enjoy our vacation and not have to leave the kids behind. Yeah!
So what's your suggestions? We're leaning towards The Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood. Has anyone ever been? What would be your suggestions? I'd like to read about your best vacation advice or vacation spots. What places have you loved and/or hated?
The best one we took with our kids was the one to St Louis, MO. They have a ton of stuff to do for free, like Purina Farms and Grant's farm, where the kids can feed baby goats, milk a cow, all kinds of fun stuff. If I remember correctly they had a cool aquarium, and there's always the arch. I remember it as a really fun trip.
We've spent time in Gatlinburg, but it was mostly in the park doing the 5mi hikes. I don't know if you guys are into that. We didn't ever do Dollywood so I can't help you there.
We also had a really great time in Washington, DC. Of course, our kids were old enough to have learned about most of the stuff we saw, and our congressman got us lots of VIP passes and guided tours. I don't know how old your kids are, but DC has a great subway system and the whole place is clean and very well organized. Your congressman can get you into almost anywhere if you give him/her enough notice. It was tiring but really fun.
Of course there's always Disney World.
Wow. You just made me miss TN. I went to Gatlinburg every spring in high school and twice after.
I love the area. The mountains are beautiful and there are lots of hiking/scenery options (including a ski lift to a mt. top for the view) and gorgeous hotels. You can get one off the beaten track (not IN the city area/touristy places) that will be pretty and private, yet be close to all the fun things kids will love.
I never got to try all the restaurants I wanted but there are some good ones (for romance) and plenty that are family friendly too.
If you go to that area the relatives will have no trouble entertaining the kids while you and the DH have some alone time.
My best vacation? Hmmmm...have not gotten to go many places, but I love going to the lake (Lake Michigan) way up north with my DH and staying in a nice B&B or cabin all alone! My picture of happiness! Small town, lots of nature, time near the water...ahhhhh. (Can you tell I don't have kids? )
Sounds like you more than need the vacation! Hope it is great!
Ok, how sad is this? I LIVE in Missouri and have only been to St Louis once and that was about 12 yrs ago!! Went to the zoo, arch and I think it is called Union Station. It was very neat. The zoo wasn't really great but it was also kinda cold.
We did go a few years ago to the Omaha Nebraska zoo. It was wonderful!! Spent the day there and didn't finish!! Wonderful place and I would love to go back so I could take my youngest two.
I know how you feel about dh working all of the time and you taking care of kids. Mine works alot!! Every once in a while I just say "Tonight I GOTTA get away for a break!!" He does his best to help when he can.
Good luck and let us know where you decide to go!
We did The Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood with the kids (twice)several years ago. We went during the summer. I remember that traffic was awful.(Gee what do you expect during peak season?) With that said, we had a great vacation, both times. Once with just kids and the next time with kids and Grandma. The whole family enjoyed Dollywood. Good rides, pretty setting and stuff to do for the whole family.
We also have done the Washington DC trip with the kids more than once. They enjoyed it. There is so much to see and do. And as karateka stated already, the subway system is wonderful. Our kids loved it so much, one afternoon they wanted to ride it out to where it comes above ground. DH and I were tired and hot, as it was the end of the day, so we said SURE. They are young adults now and both still talk about that. Lots of free or inexpensive things to do in DC. I could go every year, as I never grow tired of seeing all the museums and monuments.
We travel quite a bit. The one thing I can tell you that works for us is to research and plan ahead of time. Not that I'm saying to have a strict "to do" list and don't deviate. But do have a plan of what you want to do, and back up ideas as time allows. I think it helps make a trip go more smoothly. I hope you all enjoy your vacation. Looking forward to learn what your location choice turns out to be and how it goes.
my dh and I honeymooned in the great smokey mountains and loved it so much that we went back just a few months ago for our five year anniversary. The sights alone do me in, but then you throw in everything there possibly is to do there, Dollywood, Ripleys theaters, aquariums, hiking trails, stores, restaurants, sights, sounds, smells, ... I could go on forever and ever ... we stayed right in Pigeon Forge because although Gatlinburg is great, we think there is more to do right on the strip in Pigeon Forge. We stayed at the Shular Inn both times we have gone there and love the indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, saunas, breakfast ... we parked the car in the parking lot and took the trolley everywhere, its .50 a person and the only one that cost's a little more, .75 a person, is the trolley ride from Pigeon Forge to the Gatlinburg welcome center, where you get on another trolley and it takes you right into Gatlinburg .. I love the mountains and would live there if we could ... if you do decide to go to the mountains, be sure to google it and sign up for all the brochures you can get, cause most of the time there are tons of great coupons in them ... especially if you decide to get a cabin since there are so many of you going ... you can get up to an eight bedroom cabin from some companies .. sorry this has gone on so long, I just love the Smokies!!
and along the way to the Great Smokies....
Kentucky horse farms
Mammoth Cave (soooo much fun and naturally air conditioned!)
Chattanooga, TN -- trains, Lookout Mtn., Civil War battlefields, incline railroad, Rock City (tacky touristy but you just have to do it!)
Nashville -- country music everything & Elvis
tho' my fav still is:
Pennsylvania Dutch Country around Lancaster, PA --
http://www.padutchcountry.com/ <<links to basically everything the area has to offer, including discounts and special deals.
lots of attractions tied to the Amish life style
and the restaurants -- plan to gain, gain, gain those pounds!
if in to camping instead of hotels, several very good ones there too.
farmers markets (esp. the one in Bird-in-Hand)
and The Kountry Kettle
lots of shopping for handcrafted furniture, quilts.
train museum in Strasburg http://www.rrmuseumpa.org/
Sight & Sound Theatre ( http://www.sight-sound.com/WebSiteSS/changeLocation.do?locationCD=STRASBURG_PA ) a theater dedicated to Christian witness currently showing "In the Beginning" (Creation story),
there's also an auto museum
and for the kids an amusement park: Dutch Wonderland.
and outlet malls!!! (back to school shopping!!!!) (and a short distance away is Reading PA with more outlets -- especially Vanity Fair makers of Wranglers, TimberCreek, Jantzen, >> http://www.vffo.com/ --- their prices are fantastic and the one in Reading is the "mother ship" carrying a greater line of product and sizes (as in Big BIG man's sizes than any of their much smaller ones at the various outlet malls around the country. It's 3 stories tall and full two blocks long! I get pants there as little as $10!)
and....best of all ....not all that far from Hersey PA -- chocolate town USA (museum dedicated to chocolate and a BIG amusement park well stocked with chocolate!!!!!)
the area is soooo beautiful and peaceful and very very family friendly.
can do lots w/out spending tons of money.
the narrated audio tour is great intro (you drive while a CD or cassette guides you around -- pick up at Dutch Wonderland.
also antiquing all over the place.
and this is a great time of the year to go.
the other place I really love is the Finger Lakes region of NY.
Thank you Doug! It's so nice to see such kind things written about our town. Here are a few places I like to go.... all in Lancaster city, which is a great place to check out when you're here!
House of Clarendon - it's a bakery/tea room. Julie Bashore, who is awesome owns it. When I was working downtown, I would always try to get pastries from House of Clarendon. They have impressive classes also if you time your trip right!
We just refer to La Dolce Vita as the Courthouse Bakery, but it is incredible. Wonderful italian pastries, breads, coffees, candies.... my mouth is watering now...
Central Market... the oldest farmer's market building in the US. It's wonderful - we still go there for produce and fresh flowers and baked goods.... okay, I like baked goods. Very close to Central Market is some very cool little shops, one of which has all kinds of goodies from England.
And if you are in the city, about two blocks from Central Market is Binn's park, it's a little area where they have one of those cool fountains on the ground that kids can run through and play in. My kids love it and I'm not sure if many tourists know it's there when they are in the city! It's awesome. At nighttime, there are nice lights for a walk with your hubby too.
My husband makes fun of me because most of my blogs on MySpace are food related, but at least on Cake Central it's only fitting, right?
Wow! Vacations are such an important part of our life and I highly recommend them.
I'm not sure where you live but it sounds like in the east somewhere. There are sooo many great places. My hubby and I lived in a motorhome in 1999 and 2000 and travelled all around the country and have now been in all 50 states along with most of Canada. There are so many awesome places to visit.
I agree with those that recommend Gatlinburg, it is a really cool area. All around Asheville, Nc and the Blue Ridge mountains is gorgeous and if in Asheville, make sure to visit The Biltmore.
I love Jamestown and Williamsburg, not to mention Washington D.C.
One of my favorite places is Maine. The weather is gorgeous in the summer and you can go on whale watching tours out of Bar Harbor and I loved watching the sun rise from Cadillac Mtn. in Acadia Nat'l Park.
Gosh, I could keep going and going. Let us know where you decide to go and have a blast!