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vacation ideas that are fun and "school - like"

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So, we live here in the Midwest. Our oldest is 9, youngest is 4. Can you all give me some vacation ideas that have worked well for you that were fun and hands on/ educational? For example, we watched Dolphin Tale and know that you can visit Winter in Florida. I read how they have boat tours, etc of the area and they bring up sea animals (sea horses) to touch and throw back. That sort of thing sounds fun, but educational. We also do Disney or Universal, but now I want to get a little more out of vacations.


With the costs of everything going up, we will be driving wherever we need to get to. I heard once about where you can sleep in a treehouse somewhere. We aren't really a camping family, but again, with everything getting so expensive, maybe we need to become one (my husnabd would love that - I just never camped as a kid).


Mammoth cave? Might be too scary for my younger two.


Dude ranch? They seem like they would be fun, but awfully expensive.



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When I think school days on vacation, I think about what field trips the area public school kids would go on. When we were at the Outer Banks, NC that included Hatteras lighthouse and the colonial village on Roanoke Island. Hatteras light because they moved it. (Funny tale, the day we were there, there was someone there who was from the company who moved it. He wasn't part of the crew, just neat.) Southeastern VA would include Jamestown, Yorktown, Williamsburg.


Art museums. Zoos. Aquariums. Museums of any kind actually. Battlefields. Anything historical. Panning for gold.


We did a wagon train vacation that was awesome! Yes, expensive. It was how my parents shared dad's inheritance with me and my brother. They paid for it. But it was awesome! We flew into Salt Lake City and saw Temple Square. Then after the wagon train we drove up to Yellowstone National Park.


We do mostly total vacations though. We just got back from Universal. Had a ball. Sometimes you just need to build memories and fun.

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Mammoth cave is awesome!!! There is plenty to do there other than the cave . And there are different tours. You don't have to go very far into it and it's huge so there wouldn't necessarily be any claustrophobic crawling around bits that would scare anyone. It's also cave lighted. You can see very well without a flashlight or any gear of your own because it's a guided tour.



Also in that same geographical region is Land Between the Lakes. As far as camping experiences go with a bit more extra to do, that's a great idea. I love it! I camped there often in college and I'm so happy to share that place with my kids. There's a nature center and planetarium and museum that you could spend quite a bit of time in to escape the heat and camp life. There's a working homestead and more hiking trails and opportunities for boating and canoeing and nature study then you could ever finish and explore in years of visiting. The hiking trails are graded so plenty of them are 4 year old friendly (even rugged stroller friendly) and there's even backcountry for older teens and adults. Camp there or camp at Lake Barkley and enjoy what they have to offer as well. Camping isn't necessarily cheaper. IMHO camping is a much more pleasant experience with the proper gear and preparation. But we're gear heads so that could just be us. Depending on what type of camping you want to do--car, tent, RV etc. state parks like LBL have fees as well. You need to research the price of your camping lot and any amenities and any attractions you want to see while there in the overall cost. With little ones it's best not to camp too far away from a shelter with a bathroom and shower etc. And possibly a playground to expend some energy. Children just refuse to sit and watch the fire and listen to the woods for some reason!! ;)


There are city vacations near as well---Nashville or St Louis or Chicago (except maybe not till this crime wave is resolved). A trip up to VA would be really great. Historical sites like Williamsburg or even just exploring the sites and museums of DC. Those are two destinations on my wish list.

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You know with the ages you have, you might enjoy camping in an RV. If you fly somewhere, then you can rent the RV for a week. Gives you your wheels and hotel, no packing, easy breakfasts, a spot for naps. I know Florida has RV rentals near the airports. Or if you're not driving far, you can rent one locally and set out.


As far as educational things to do, we usually just do what's in the area. We do forts, history things, architecture, state parks. Sometimes there's a famous forest or tree or bridge. But people like what they like. The easiest way to find the interesting things to do in an area is to look on Trip Advisor. There are listings for most cities and states, and that will give you a pretty good sense of the best things to do.

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Near where I live, which is far from you lol. There's a restored gold rush town. Our ranch is right on the gold rush trail. What kind do history does your state have? There's got to be some really neat "living" museums around that are both fun and interesting.

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