Mind-Expanding Trips You Can Take with Your Kiddos
Summer is over and the kids are back in school, but that doesn’t mean all travel has to come to a halt. Plan one of these easy trips this fall — each one is a delightful combination of education and play. Take a day trip or a long weekend and enjoy these treks as a family.
Make a History Lesson
Hoards of people visit the top tourist sites like Mount Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty. Instead, get out of the mainstream and opt for a unique historical experience. At the Greenbriar in West Virginia, the kids will never know they are amping up their smarts while they are having fun. Here they can see a real post-WWII bunker designed to protect Congress in the Cold War.
Now, the facility has been converted into data storage for big companies. Your social studies and geeky gadget-loving kids will be fascinated by the transformation. Recently revitalized to include adult-friendly options (including a casino), the kids will love the swimming, bowling, carriage rides and a stocked trout stream for fishing. Teens will love off-road driving.
Turn Camping into Survival Skill Training
Use a weekend camping trip to teach your kids about nature, survival, and safety while in the wild. Before you go, download some ecology and animal identification lesson plans from the National Wildlife Federation website. You can easily incorporate these into your camping experience, no matter where you plan to go.
No one has taught more kids about wilderness survival than the Boy Scouts, so use the basic principles the Scouts follow to install effective wilderness survival skills before you go. Once at your site, test their new knowledge by creating mini-scenarios (such as parent and child getting separated) right there at the campground or on a hiking trail.
Camping, of course, is also a great way to teach younger kids or kids who aren’t super adventurous about cooking. Before you go, let each kid plan a meal, shop for it and lead its creation at the site. If you can, head to a destination popular for stargazing and end your weekend away with a lesson in astronomy — or, bring along the latest archery equipment and let them practice their marksmanship.
Check Out the Dinosaurs
The Southwest has numerous known dinosaur sites but getting intimate with the history of these ancient creatures isn’t easy. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science conducts several short field trips throughout the summer on everything from bird watching to stargazing. But in July, they co-host a three-day canoe trip down the Gunnison River.
This trip is suitable for ages 6 and up, and it gives kids a chance to see unusual rock formations and fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. You’ll take a break from the canoe to hike to waterfalls, see hawks and learn about petroglyphs. A science docent from the museum answers all the kids’ curious questions along the way.
Make sure you take a tour to Denver Southwest with your kids and stop by the Dino Hotel in Lakewood, CO. The formerly mundane Best Western Denver Southwest has been transformed into a Jurassic period playground. The new “digs” feature dinosaur relics and quirky paleontological touches, from sandboxes where kids can go digging for fossils to a Pteranodon weathervane.
Get Cozy with Trees
Why stay on the ground when you can sleep atop the branches in your own private treehouse? The Out n’ About Treesort (resort, tree-style) located in Cave Junction, Oregon, is a one-of-a-kind place where kids and families can lounge around on one of 15 unique tree houses built for families of all sizes or learn about Morgan Horse breeding at their ground-level facility. Active kids will love the zip line and lessons in tree climbing. They even have “Treeminology” courses of various kinds and levels to inspire tree-learning in all ages.
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