Author Topic: Where to vacation with kids?  (Read 3951 times)

dcnats

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Where to vacation with kids?
« on: May 24, 2017, 10:32:51 PM »
5 and 7 and 9 year olds. East coast but open to driving or cheap flights.
Looking for thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and summer vacation ideas.
Ideally we would mix relaxing, nature, adventure, and some kind of learning or history or culture.

Ideas???

Righty

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2017, 11:10:26 PM »
Budget range would be helpful

MayDay

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2017, 04:14:02 AM »
I have a 7 and 9. We live in Ohio so we've got a good number of east coast places.

Washington DC was a hit for my kids
 We stayed at a hotel with a pool on the metro line, and then ate breakfast and packed lunch. Hit free museums and ate dinner out. Cost was metro fare and one restaurant a day.

We have done Mammoth caves, smoky mountains, and Cuyahoga valley national parks, all for weekends. Kids loved all of them. Camped for all.

We go to Myrtle Beach with my in laws. Wouldn't recommend that- huge tourist trap. Run away.


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dcnats

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2017, 06:04:17 AM »
I'm looking for great ideas.  Budget is absolutely a factor but I don't want to screen out opportunities because some may be worth the splurge. So bring ideas, small budget and large!

Budget range would be helpful

dcnats

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2017, 06:07:11 AM »
Wow I never heard of mammoth caves or Cuyahoga valley! I've added them to my target list. All great ideas - thank you!!! Appreciate the feedback on the others too!!

Washington DC was a hit for my kids
 We stayed at a hotel with a pool on the metro line, and then ate breakfast and packed lunch. Hit free museums and ate dinner out. Cost was metro fare and one restaurant a day.

We have done Mammoth caves, smoky mountains, and Cuyahoga valley national parks, all for weekends. Kids loved all of them. Camped for all.

We go to Myrtle Beach with my in laws. Wouldn't recommend that- huge tourist trap. Run away.

mm1970

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2017, 10:40:28 AM »
I have a 7 and 9. We live in Ohio so we've got a good number of east coast places.

Washington DC was a hit for my kids
 We stayed at a hotel with a pool on the metro line, and then ate breakfast and packed lunch. Hit free museums and ate dinner out. Cost was metro fare and one restaurant a day.

We have done Mammoth caves, smoky mountains, and Cuyahoga valley national parks, all for weekends. Kids loved all of them. Camped for all.

We go to Myrtle Beach with my in laws. Wouldn't recommend that- huge tourist trap. Run away.
We went to Myrtle Beach once for spring break, it was nice.  It wasn't very populated, and we enjoyed the beach with family (I live in CA, so it was THEIR spring break).

I also enjoyed Western NC, near Asheville.  That was before I had kids though.

Pigeon

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2017, 11:31:54 AM »
We rent a house on a lake in the Adirondacks most summers.  The lake we go to is one of the quieter ones.  There are some things to do (The Wild Center, Lake Placid for watching athletes train on ski jumps, etc.) in under an hour's drive.  There's plenty of hiking/fishing/nature.

The lake is so beautiful and restful.  We mostly just hang out if the weather is nice and kayak, swim or canoe.  We do jigsaw puzzles and play board games and read.  It is a cell phone free area and the place we rent has no internet.  It's a week to reconnect as a family.

It is my teenagers' favorite vacation, which is weird to me as normally they like their phones as much as the next teenager.

omachi

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2017, 11:38:29 AM »
DC is great on the east coast. Cherry blossoms in the spring. Get lost in the Smithsonian for days. Arlington cemetery is a little disorienting regardless of age but good food for thought and discussion. Government buildings and monuments galore.

Lots of pretty places in Maine that you can rent for a week and just relax.

Could always pick a section of the Appalachian Trail and hike that if you're up for nature and adventure, though you might want to wait until the youngest is a little older.

TrMama

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2017, 11:39:27 AM »
Quebec City. Tons of history and super kid friendly.

yyc-phil

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2017, 11:44:39 AM »
One of my favorite places to go on vacation when the kids were small was Prince Edward Island, especially the Singing Sands in Basin Head Provincial Park, a nine-mile white sand beach with some of the warmest waters north of Florida. Also, Cavendish Beach near the Anne of Green Gables was one of our all-time favorites, especially in September when everyone is back at work or school and you are practically the only one around. PEI is lovely and picturesque, I even thought seriously about retiring there but while the March to October period offers some of the best climates in Canada, the winters can be brutal and snowy. Another selling point for Americans to spend time NOB is how cheap it is and you can really stretch your vacation budget, something we Canadians can't do SOB.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2017, 11:52:34 AM by yyc-phil »
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StarBright

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2017, 11:46:28 AM »
My favorite family trips have been to various barrier islands in South Carolina, Fripp Island in particular.  Lots of biking and walking, beaches, and within an hour or so of neat day trips (Savannah).

I can't wait to start taking my kids in a few years when they get just a bit older (they are 3 and 5).




startingsmall

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2017, 12:49:17 PM »
Hilton Head, SC. Beautiful beaches, lots of bike trails and nature, close enough to Savannah for a daytrip. Can be pricey in the summer, but there are usually good deals to be found on Priceline, etc. or during the off season.

Boone/Blowing Rock, NC. Plenty of cabins, lots of hiking, lots of waterfalls & "swimming holes," beautiful parks for picnics. There's a park in downtown Blowing Rock (Memorial Park) with a great playground for younger kids, but it also has adjacent basketball/tennis courts for 'big kids' and equipment rental available on weekends and maybe in season? Lots of fun restaurants if you're into that. My daughter is just shy of 5 years old and isn't super-adventurous, so let me know if you'd like some suggestions for young-kid-friendly hikes/outings.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2017, 02:34:57 PM by startingsmall »

bogart

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2017, 01:11:17 PM »
DC has fabulous museums, and my kid also loves riding the Metro, plus there's the zoo and walking around the mall.

Both Richmond, VA and Durham, NC have truly fabulous kids' science museums, with hands-on activities and demonstrations and absolutely appropriate for everyone 0 through at least 12.  You could spend multiple days at either (particularly the Durham one, IMHO).  Durham also has a nice outdoor pedestrian zone (American Tobacco), minor-league bball, two beautiful nearby college campuses that can be nice to walk around (Duke, UNC), good theatre including kid-friendly theatre (e.g. kids matinees for the American Dance Festival), a fun farmer's market.  Nearby Raleigh has a great (free!) life sciences museum, and the NC zoo in Asheboro about 2 hours away is pretty fabulous though arguably not ideal for little kids (miles of walking trails, animals have large habitats and may be hard to see).  Lots of natural areas around (Eno River park, Duke forest), and pleasant and accessible bike trails.  NC coast is lovely (we like Emerald Isle, which is near a good NC aquarium), as are mountains.  VA mountains also lovely.  We've been to Mammoth Caves and loved it, but there are also caves in the NC mountains (Linville) and VA mountains (northern end).  SC state parks along the coast (Hunting Island -- just north of Fripp but much cheaper and almost entirely undeveloped, with great trails), Edisto, Huntington Beach, and, yes, the Myrtle Beach state park even though all the rest of MB is dreadful) are fabulous. 

Farther away from the east coast, we did a trip to the Badlands of SD and loved them -- a nice feature is that unlike many National Parks, kids are pretty much allowed to go everywhere and climb on stuff (I guess the natural erosion is bad enough that the kids don't add much to it!).  And also the Black Hills nearby, lovely mountains and hiking and interesting history.







mm1970

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2017, 02:05:49 PM »
We rent a house on a lake in the Adirondacks most summers.  The lake we go to is one of the quieter ones.  There are some things to do (The Wild Center, Lake Placid for watching athletes train on ski jumps, etc.) in under an hour's drive.  There's plenty of hiking/fishing/nature.

The lake is so beautiful and restful.  We mostly just hang out if the weather is nice and kayak, swim or canoe.  We do jigsaw puzzles and play board games and read.  It is a cell phone free area and the place we rent has no internet.  It's a week to reconnect as a family.

It is my teenagers' favorite vacation, which is weird to me as normally they like their phones as much as the next teenager.
Oh yes.  My in-laws live in upstate NY, and have a camp on a small man-made lake.  We love using our vacation to go "home" and play at the lake.

startingsmall

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2017, 03:11:16 PM »
The Sarasota, FL area is another great option. (I'm a little biased - it's my hometown.) Amazing beaches, kayaking, state parks, Mote Marine Aquarium, Ringling Museum of Art. Tampa is about an hour away and is also a nice place to spend a day or two (Museum of Science & Industry, Lowry Park Zoo, +/- Busch Gardens if you're into theme parks).

SEAK

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2017, 04:48:27 PM »
Southwest UT is our go to spot for family adventures. Always Spring/Fall time-frame.

Slot canyons of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, canoeing Green River through Canyonlands National Park, mountain biking Moab, exploring the San Rafael Swell, Goblin Valley State Park-kid favorite, Scenic Highway 12, Hole in the Rock Road....

http://www.deseretnews.com/top/561/17/Escalante-Batty-Pass-Caves-31-family-summer-destinations-in-Southwestern-Utah.html

http://www.texsriverways.com/  Outfitter for canoe trips down Green/Colorado Rivers. Class I waters.

https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/dead-horse/the-yurts-at-dead-horse-point/  Great place to stay outside Moab, very popular.

https://www.vrbo.com/228445    Great place to stay outside Escalante. Spendy though..



MayDay

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2017, 03:28:23 AM »
I have a 7 and 9. We live in Ohio so we've got a good number of east coast places.

Washington DC was a hit for my kids
 We stayed at a hotel with a pool on the metro line, and then ate breakfast and packed lunch. Hit free museums and ate dinner out. Cost was metro fare and one restaurant a day.

We have done Mammoth caves, smoky mountains, and Cuyahoga valley national parks, all for weekends. Kids loved all of them. Camped for all.

We go to Myrtle Beach with my in laws. Wouldn't recommend that- huge tourist trap. Run away.
We went to Myrtle Beach once for spring break, it was nice.  It wasn't very populated, and we enjoyed the beach with family (I live in CA, so it was THEIR spring break).

I also enjoyed Western NC, near Asheville.  That was before I had kids though.

We go in the summer. It's blazing hot
 It depends on the kids obviously but my kids are done with the ocean after two days, leaving nothing else to do except tourist traps. If you have kids who love the beach, I'm sure it would be a popular vacation.
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mm1970

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2017, 09:52:33 AM »
I have a 7 and 9. We live in Ohio so we've got a good number of east coast places.

Washington DC was a hit for my kids
 We stayed at a hotel with a pool on the metro line, and then ate breakfast and packed lunch. Hit free museums and ate dinner out. Cost was metro fare and one restaurant a day.

We have done Mammoth caves, smoky mountains, and Cuyahoga valley national parks, all for weekends. Kids loved all of them. Camped for all.

We go to Myrtle Beach with my in laws. Wouldn't recommend that- huge tourist trap. Run away.
We went to Myrtle Beach once for spring break, it was nice.  It wasn't very populated, and we enjoyed the beach with family (I live in CA, so it was THEIR spring break).

I also enjoyed Western NC, near Asheville.  That was before I had kids though.

We go in the summer. It's blazing hot
 It depends on the kids obviously but my kids are done with the ocean after two days, leaving nothing else to do except tourist traps. If you have kids who love the beach, I'm sure it would be a popular vacation.
My kid was 3, and we live on the beach, he was happy!  He also enjoyed mini-golf.  And doing puzzles with his cousins.

FireHiker

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2017, 11:39:31 AM »
My favorite thing in the world is to travel. We have recently re-aligned our spending with our goals and made travel a much higher priority. I spend a lot of time thinking about it.

I highly recommend following www.secretflying.com for cheap flights. We have made vacation decisions based on that alone. With you being on the east coast you could get an awesome trip to Europe for a steal if you hit the right deal. For international travel with kids, I've gotten a lot of ideas from www.earthtrekkers.com.

My kids are 5, 7, and 16. In the past few years we've done the following:
-all-inclusive in Jamaica April 2016 (NOT cheap, but one of the best vacations we have ever had, Beaches Ocho Rios, I think it was about $8700 for 7 nights, including flights, which may be cheaper for you)
-Thanksgiving to London/York/Edinburgh (COLD but really fantastic trip, cheap-ish lodging via airbnb and hit a British Airways fare sale, non-stop from San Diego was $744 adults/$644 kids)
-summer road trip 2016 to Colorado/Utah; very hot in Utah, but still a good time. We visited: Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands, Goblin Valley State Park (awesome), Capitol Reef (meh). River rafting in Durango was the highlight of the trip.
-Italy in April 2017 (another British Air fare sale, plus separate Alitalia flights from London, plus Chase UR points meant flights were $500 each), visiting Rome, Florence, and Pompeii. Nice and inexpensive airbnb in Rome, day-tripped to Florence and Pompeii. Excellent trip with the kids, even if they got a tad bored in some of the museums.
-road trip 2015 up the pacific coast, including: Crater Lake, Redwoods, Olympics, Lassen. Cheap if you camp, but you'd have to fly out here and rent a car for that.
-we did a massive road trip all the way to Ohio/Michigan and down to Alabama, then back across Texas. During this trip we visited Cedar Point in OH (love rollercoasters), Mammoth Cave in KY (must go back when they're bigger), Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, and had two nights in New Orleans. We actually really enjoyed New Orleans even with the kids. The food was epic and we did a Mississippi river boat cruise that the kids enjoyed.

Here are some of the things I'm considering for future travel with my kids; some in your area:
-fly into Chicago, road trip loop up to Mackinaw and Isle Royale, down to Wisconsin Dells to the water parks (SIL/BIL used to live near there which is why it's on our radar).
-fly somewhere in NE (you wouldn't have to fly at least), road trip from Boston (maybe a night at the Great Wolf Lodge after visiting historical sites), to Niagara Falls, and back through Vermont (van Trapp lodge maybe?).
-summer campervan road trip in Iceland. If you check out Wow Air their fares are very inexpensive, if you're willing to go no-frills. From the west coast I have the trip in its entirety (minus food, but including gas, campervan, flights, insurance, campingcard, etc) at approx. $8k for five of us next summer, so it is not a budget trip by any means. Iceland has been at the top of my list for 20 years though so I think we're finally going to do it next year.

Our next trip is an all-inclusive in Cancun, but flights are much cheaper for us than they would be for you since we're flying out of Tijuana. We will go to Chitchen Itza while we're there, so there will be something educational between all the waterslides/pool/beach/etc. Total for 5 is $5200 for 7 nights, all-inclusive, plus the cost for the Chitchen Itza tour ($500 ish).

Too many places to go and not enough time...


MayDay

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2017, 08:53:01 AM »
Jill, where in Cancun are you staying, and did you find a special deal or just book through the resort website?
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skp

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2017, 07:19:47 PM »
It was hard for us vacationing w our kids, because even as children they had different ideas on what a good vacation was.  I had to compromise.  I am an outdoorsy history buff who likes to hike.  My kids hate walking and history.  My son still complains about how I was a "mean mom" by making him walk the Freedom Trail in Boston.  He recently went again as an adult and never got off the tour bus.  SMH- That's Something I just don't understand.
My kids liked the beach.  I could stand the beach but it couldn't be a touristy one.  Beaches that suit both our needs were the Outer Banks, Myrtle Beach (we stayed south in the state park in a cabin) and my absolute favorite was Hunting Island State Park South Caroling (near Fripp) where we rented a private rustic type beach house..
They also liked a dude ranch vacation we took.  I don't really like horses, but I could suck it up for a week and they had other activities like white water rafting and optional hikes that I took alone while they horse back rode.  The ranch we were at had a hot spring pool.  Everyone liked that.  They still rave about the houseboat vaction we took at Lake Powell.
Other vacations we all could agree on were city weekends.  We did New Orleans, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York City. 
My advise- Ask them.  They are old enough to tell you what they'd like.

FireHiker

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #21 on: June 01, 2017, 03:29:11 PM »
Jill, where in Cancun are you staying, and did you find a special deal or just book through the resort website?

Sorry, I totally forgot I had responded to this last week! We are staying at Crown Paradise Club. We booked through Costco Travel and it seemed like a pretty good deal, $3446 for 7 nights, 5 people in a 2 floor suite (with 2 bathrooms) that actually sleeps 7. Our group is 2 adults and 3 kids, ages 5, 7, and 16. We only booked the resort itself there though; the flight options were super expensive through Costco! For the flights I booked Interjet directly through their website. Flights were $362 per person.

As far as resorts go it is definitely not the high end; my friends went to Riu over spring break (the very wealthy grandmother paid for the trip), which is MUCH nicer. But, friends we trust went to Crown Paradise Club and said it was pretty good, kids had a blast, excellent value for the price. I'm expecting food to be cruise-quality, not super fantastic but acceptable. I don't think it will be as nice as our trip to Jamaica when we went to Beaches Ocho Rios, but we also spent $3500 more on that trip than we are on this one. I'll be happy to post back in November after we return, as long as I remember. :)

zarfus

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2017, 03:19:30 AM »
St Louis has an amazing free zoo. Arch is cool, Grant's park, botanical gardens, and Cardinals game is you're into baseball

FireHiker

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2017, 10:51:38 AM »
St Louis has an amazing free zoo. Arch is cool, Grant's park, botanical gardens, and Cardinals game is you're into baseball

Don't forget the City Museum if you're in St. Louis. We loved it!

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2017, 10:53:22 AM »
beach
beach
Beach!
infinite fun in the sand, reasonably cheap, especially if you camp. Camp in winter @ the beach and have it to yourself.
We love the beach ;)
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dec38

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #25 on: June 06, 2017, 01:11:11 PM »
We love Cape Cod -- the Cape Cod Rail trail is a wonderful bike trail with kettle ponds and swimming holes to take a dip in, ice cream along the way (the Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans!), and spurs you can take to bike to the National Seashore beaches.  Other low cost activities -- watch the seals in Chatham when the fishing boats come in, lots of beaches to explore, mini golf, etc.

Other vacation spots I'm currently considering (haven't done these yet):

Poconos:  Bushkill Falls, bike the Lehigh Gorge bike trail, Pocono Whitewater has family whitewater rafting trips suitable for ages 4 and up (class I and II rapids), resorts with indoor water parks like Great Wolf Lodge (pricey but deals can be found).

Boston:  Freedom trail, science Museum, New England Acquarium, Swan boats, USS Constitution, Fenway park

Acadia National Park and Maine coast

Niagara Falls

Lake George

Michread

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2017, 01:32:11 PM »
White mountains NH

Six Gun city
Storyland
Clarks trading post
Lost river
Santas village

Your kids are the perfect age for these places.  We loved all these places when my kids were those ages.

Tons of rental units available on VRBO for the area.

Trifele

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2017, 05:24:08 PM »
St Louis has an amazing free zoo. Arch is cool, Grant's park, botanical gardens, and Cardinals game is you're into baseball

Don't forget the City Museum if you're in St. Louis. We loved it!

X2. We travel a lot, and City Museum in St. Louis is the best place we have ever been with our kids.  OP, it's not a museum -- it's a wild 10 story fun house. Mind blowing.  We have made several trips to St. Louis just to go to City Museum.   We go all day, multiple days in a row.   

Other places that get a "Five Star" rating from our kids -- Acadia National Park, Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan, Jekyll Island Georgia, Sanibel Florida.   Our kids definitely love the seashore.     

sjc0816

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2017, 06:17:13 AM »
We typically flip-flop between beach vacation/outdoorsy vacation. Last year we went east to Hiltonhead, SC. We absolutely LOVED it but it was definitely busy (summer). We stayed right on the beach (found a great VRBO deal), rented bikes for the week, went deep sea fishing, ate at several great restaurants, and swam in the ocean/pool every day.  HH is very family-friendly and my two kids made friends the first day we were there and played with them basically the whole week. It was so relaxing and fun.

Two years ago, we did Black Hills/Badlands and it was also amazing. My kids still say it was the best vacation ever. We did all of the touristy stuff...but did a ton of hiking/fishing, rented a boat on Lake Pactola (beautiful), spent a day in Deadwood, panned for gold, etc. Tons of wildlife right outside our VRBO....we would cook dinner and watch for deer/wild turkeys.

This summer we are road-tripping out west and spending a week in Lake Tahoe. Super excited! We're going to take a few extra days on the way home to stop through some parks in Utah.

fuzzy math

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #29 on: June 10, 2017, 10:04:02 PM »
Jill, where in Cancun are you staying, and did you find a special deal or just book through the resort website?

Sorry, I totally forgot I had responded to this last week! We are staying at Crown Paradise Club. We booked through Costco Travel and it seemed like a pretty good deal, $3446 for 7 nights, 5 people in a 2 floor suite (with 2 bathrooms) that actually sleeps 7. Our group is 2 adults and 3 kids, ages 5, 7, and 16. We only booked the resort itself there though; the flight options were super expensive through Costco! For the flights I booked Interjet directly through their website. Flights were $362 per person.

As far as resorts go it is definitely not the high end; my friends went to Riu over spring break (the very wealthy grandmother paid for the trip), which is MUCH nicer. But, friends we trust went to Crown Paradise Club and said it was pretty good, kids had a blast, excellent value for the price. I'm expecting food to be cruise-quality, not super fantastic but acceptable. I don't think it will be as nice as our trip to Jamaica when we went to Beaches Ocho Rios, but we also spent $3500 more on that trip than we are on this one. I'll be happy to post back in November after we return, as long as I remember. :)

I've been to the crown paradise club in Puerto Vallarta. Enjoyed it! You got a really good deal. The kid water area is pretty great.
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High Income Parent

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Re: Where to vacation with kids?
« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2017, 08:58:31 AM »
We loved Vermont and Lake Champlain. That area can be great for Summer and winter depending on the activities you want to do. Also all the local farmers markets and fruit stands and local small towns were nice for food and safe kid activities.