Summer vacation. UPDATED.

This isn’t today’s post.  Today’s post is here.  It’s about cats.  As usual.  This is just something I need advice on that I can’t fit on twitter.

Hailey’s off for the summer and we want to take a family vacation but we have no idea where to go.  We want someplace exciting, but not super stressful or  crowded.  Someplace where you can sign up for tours/activities, ideally.  Our favorite vacations were Alaska (glacier-watching, crab-fishing, hiking, whale-watching, panning for gold, hanging with bear) and South America (cave diving, exploring ruins, hanging with monkeys) but it would be awesome to find something new that’s easy and fun and can be done in 4-5 days.  I was thinking Yellowstone but Victor thinks it might be boring.  He was thinking New York but crowds freak me out.  Hailey was thinking Jupiter because she’s nine and doesn’t understand the concept of limits.

I need advice.  What’s the best place you’ve ever been and what did you do there that made it awesome?

UPDATE:  You guys are the best and holy shit, do you love traveling.  After going through all the comments we winnowed it down to 5 spots less than 3 hours away and then my friend Karen called and was like, “Why don’t you just go to Hell?”  It seemed a bit abrasive for Karen, but turns out she was referring to Hell, Grand Cayman, which was on our short list because apparently the island has pirates, rum and a sea turtle farm.  This works well because I like pirates, Victor likes rum and Hailey likes turtles.  We just bought our plane tickets but I haven’t booked a hotel or anything else.  Since crowd-sourcing worked so well this morning I’m trying it again…those of you who pushed (or who’ve visited) Grand Cayman:  Where’s a good place to stay?  What should we do and/or avoid?  Why am I paying money to go to Hell when I’ll probably end up there for free eventually?  Pick a question.

721 thoughts on “Summer vacation. UPDATED.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Driving Rte 1 up the California coast is breathtakingly beautiful, and there’s a ton of stuff to do along the way … see the Redwoods up north, elephant seals in droves, towns to explore, swimming … and it’s really not too crowded.

  2. I’m a big of fan of my home area in Northern New York. You get a little bit of history, some tours and a whole lot of relaxing scenery. Check out the Thousand Islands.

  3. Come to Colorado – the mountains are great – not to crowded – the weather is beautiful and pot is now legal. You would have months worth of columns by just sitting outside the pot shops and watching the people…..

  4. Disney World, but it was October, so there were less crowds. You could always do Saratoga, New York. I bet Hailey would love the race track. Plus, there’s beautiful gardens, and battlefields, and lots of stuff that you guys would be into.

  5. What about Savannah? Low stress, cool history/tours, I’m sure good antiquing, Atlantic beaches, close to Charleston…. or New Orleans, that sounds right up your alley if it is not crazy Mardi Gras time…

  6. Yellowstone was pretty cool, but Ol’ Faithful can be the definition of crowded… Also maybe not the most exciting for more than a day trip.

  7. Aruba is fantastic. Beautiful beaches. Fantastic landscapes on the north side of the island. Snorkeling, submarines and semi-subs to World War II shipwrecks, and the Jolly Pirate sunset cruise. It’s awesome.

  8. I like southern Maine, especially Ogunquit. Great beach and you can sign up for whale watching either there or nearby. Great restaurants.

  9. I really love where I live (Santa Fe, NM), but I don’t know if it’s the best place ever…It’s really old and in the surrounding areas you can hike and fish and camp and the weather’s been really weird here but it has been everywhere. I’m not making a very good case, but I like it here. You might too.

    Oh, and there’s not a lot of crowds and stuff…it’s pretty small.
    http://gosw.about.com/od/santafenewmexico/tp/santafebest.htm

  10. Yellowstone is AMAZING! We went a few years ago. We only planned 2-3 days but easily could have been there for weeks. There is a ton to do both in the park and outside of it. We didn’t get to go to Bear World, but evidently it’s awesome. We stayed on the Idaho side and didn’t even make it halfway through the park in the time we were there.

  11. Some things to do: Hearst castle; the Winchester mystery house, explore Monterrey, San Francisco for a day, things like that … it is a driving vacation, though, so you have to enjoy that for it to work.

  12. Glacier Park. Yellowstone is interesting, but it stinks like sulfur and is crowded. Glacier has some of the most beautiful scenery in America, great hiking, a free shuttle system, and huckleberries.

  13. Yellowstone is NOT boring. The weirdness and beauty of the land is majestic. You would fit right in!

  14. I just got married in Yellowstone (middle of May) and it was one of the most amazing trips of my entire life. It is everything advertised and more. My husband and I are already planning our next trip there. If you want to see some picks, you can check out my Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/awriteword/sets/72157644976228876/
    Other than that, my second favorite trip was exploring Italy. I especially enjoyed walking through the ruins of Pompeii. They are remarkably preserved. You feel like you stepped back in time. It’s amazing, and may not be around forever.

  15. Sedona, AZ. Mostly we just went and looked at awesome things. The weather was great and the surroundings gorgeous. Thousands of years old rock art made me happy, the “vortex” sites pleased my 13yo mystic, just browsing the shops was fun. We went horseback riding at Dead Horse Ranch, and wanted to take a balloon ride to see the rocks up close, but that didn’t happen. The Jeep tours look awesome too.

  16. I second the recommendations to see the redwood trees. You can also try Colonial Williamsburg (I recommend the Kings Mill resort). And what about South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore?

  17. Come to Sedona, AZ! It’s absolutely gorgeous, best Mexican food in all the world (even better then Mexico I bet), great hiking, canoeing, kayaking, wine tours, horsies, guys with long beards, you get the drift. No but really it’s freakin the best.

  18. I recently took a trip to Roatan, which is an island off the coast of Honduras. There are quite a few resorts that are family friendly (we stayed at Media Luna, which was really nice and remote, but if that’s not for you there’s it’s sister resort, Henry Morgan, which is less remote but is more family friendly). I can only speak for the HM resorts, but I know they have a lot of tours, like zip-lining and snorkelling and swimming with dolphins and island tours, and as a 16 year old I found them a tonne of fun. The food and drinks are all inclusive, as well. It was just a really great trip and I’d totally recommend it as a destination.

  19. I personally loved Puerto Rico when I was there for a few days. There’s a cool rain forest (with no spiders!), really nice beaches, and everyone there is just so nice. Plus you don’t need passports.

  20. New Orleans was outstanding, if you’ve never been. The food is to die for. The Voodoo Museum, Absinthe Museum and Pharmacy Museum are freaky / offbeat / fascinating. The cemeteries and houses are beautiful. There are more tours than you can shake a stick at. Definitely take a ghost walk or three. Plantations, Garden District, Street cars, Magazine Street, endless boutiques. And beignets. Oh god, the beignets.

  21. Best place, by far, Croatia. Do a google image search on plitvice lakes! You are very isolated! We did a tour with about 20 other people and you get to go at your own pace. Also, everyone speaks English (so that’s a plus) and Croatia looks like an effing post card! Seriously, I can’t hype up Croatia enough!

  22. I went to Yellowstone when I was Hailey’s age and absolutely adored it. Added bonus – the Mammoth Falls part of the park looks like Jupiter, so had I requested to go off-planet at age nine my parents probably would have just waited for me to fall asleep, driven to that part of the park, and then told me they were the best parents ever and that everything I had heard about not being able to breathe in space was a lie.

    You probably try to trick your daughter less than my parents did, but I still recommend Yellowstone. With or without faux-Jupiter.

  23. Best place—Bolongo Bay—USVI—Totally the SHIT. All inclusive. Kids can swim, you can drink your ass off.

    Worst Place: New York City- Hot as the face of the Sun, smelly, full of people almost as bored as you will be.

  24. The Outer Banks in North Carolina. Great beaches, lots of things to do and if you want to do nothing, it’s perfect for that too.

  25. Jamaica! Specifically, a resort called Franklin D Resort (FDR). Their gimmick is that they provide a nanny along with your room reservation; she can hang with your kid and do kid activities without you, or come along if you do family stuff, or whatever. The resort provides lots of activities for kids, tweens, and adults. And, I mean, Jamaica. We did a couple of excursions; there was a zip-line tour through the forest that was amazing, and then we climbed the famous waterfall. They also have a swim with the dolphins thing and a ride horses along the ocean shore thing, which we didn’t have time for. Probably because we “wasted” so much time just sitting on the beach. Anyway, it was awesome.

  26. Sedona AZ is pretty nice. Pink Jeep tours, easy hikes, great scenery and restaurants. They have a company that shows you the night sky through a telescope. Wine tours, Lots of art and shopping.

  27. Come to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. We have the same weather as Alaska, but you can legally enjoy Kinder Surprise here. (They are chocolate eggs with a toy inside!)

  28. Acadia National Park in Maine. You can hike, go on cruises to see puffins and seals, eat lobster til it’s coming out your pores, whale watch, bike, kayak, star gaze, and potentially see moose.

  29. If you like Alaska, you’d also love Haida Gwaii off the west coast of BC. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there in a gorgeous off-grid cabin on North Beach, hiked, beachcombed, fished. There’s a world heritage site there where you can visit ancient First Nations villages, totem poles, etc. check out the cabin we rented: http://www.allthebeachyoucaneat.com/raven_shoe.html

  30. Oregon is lovely this time of year. Mountains, beaches, rivers, rain/sun/rain/sun, Powell’s, quick drive to Seattle and Vancouver BC, etc.

  31. San Diego? Zoo early in the morning before the crowds arrive. Old Town historic park. Beach. Sea lions. Carousel in Seaport Village. Or Olympic National Park. Or Bar Harbor, Maine.

  32. Hi, Jenny! I have a couple of thoughts. I’ve been on a 4 day cruise and really enjoyed it – I know it’s not for everyone, but a cruise would give you many options, and there are activities all the time, so you shouldn’t get bored, VICTOR. I love Chicago, because it isn’t as crazy as NYC, and I also love, of all places, Pittsburgh, which I know sounds strange, but they have sports and ziplining and a science museum. My dream vacation, though, which I might take next summer, is to Glacier National Park in Montana. Hopefully these ideas help you! Hugs.

  33. I am going to stay at The Lodge at Moosehead Lake in Maine. You can go on a moose seeing trip where they “guarantee” you see a moose. (I hope the moose are given overtime pay for this shit)

  34. Do NOT drive the Big Sur coast highway. It twists and winds and it held up by wood bolted into cliff faces. And there is no where to run to. My anxiety was so bad I was hyperventilating.

  35. We’ve taken our kids (in two separate groups) to NYC and it’s so fun! You’ll survive the crowds. In fact the crowds are part of the fun. The shows, A baseball game. A day-long tour of all the sights (easy on a bus/tour). Times Square way past the kiddos’ bedtime. The museums. 9/11 memorial. Really, you might want to consider that you’re only going to get more paranoid about crowds as you age, and you’re not getting any younger. :-). Good luck!

  36. Agree highly with California/Oregon coast. Yellowstone is pretty boring. Just went to both last summer.

  37. We’re up in Maine visiting Southport, was cool petting a shark at the tiny aquarium. seems to be quite a bit to do up here though we only have 1 day before we head back to Canada

  38. I read about a family summer camp in Maryland (I think?) But yummy meals, activities included, and only a set number of families per session.

  39. We just took our 9-year-old to Colorado, and it was magnificent. It was her first time there, and it is everything you could need for a family vacation. We stayed in Colorado Springs, and there is so much to do and so many great places to stay and eat. Not too crowded and everyone in Colorado is so nice and relaxed. Plus, I saw a guy in a wookie costume wearing a Bob Marley hat hocking pot outside a pot shop. You can’t beat that.

  40. I would recommend either of the two places I call home – Vermont and Colorado. Both are beautiful with good people. My parents even have a gorgeous place on a lake that they rent out in central Vermont (right down the road from the Ben and Jerry’s factory). If you are interested in more information, email me. 🙂

  41. I love Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. I don’t know if there’s much else in Carlsbad, but you could drive on to Roswell to see the aliens.

  42. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California… they have the beach, boardwalk, and lots of cool beachtown places to check out, like the Mystery Spot! We used to go every year when I was little, I love it.

  43. I went to Aruba and it was beautiful. Also there were no spiders. Just iguanas. They have scuba diving too!!

  44. The Route 101 in CA is a great idea. You can get tickets (in advance! because they sell out) for Hearst Castle or just sit on the beach and watch pelicans being pelicans.

  45. Strathcona Provincial Park in BC or Vancouver BC just on it’s own! Also Prince Albert National Park in SK! Montreal QC is also wonderful! Come to Canada! I also love NYC but yeah you will be in crowds for sure..

  46. Costa Rica is amazing and there are monkeys everywhere! Great hikes, super nice people. We also had two fun trips to Lake Placid although their monkey population is questionable.

  47. I second the Colorado suggestion. Plenty of stuff to do – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, plenty of stuff to do in Denver (such as the previously suggested pothead watching), and from Denver to Grand Junction along I-70 you can hit the Glenwood Springs hot spring pool, take a Mine tour, take a detour to Aspen, visit Grand Junction and the Colorado National Monument. Fruit picking and wine tasting in the Palisades. Train rides all over the place. I could go on and on (obviously) 🙂

  48. Come join me and my family in Vegas for my 25th Wedding Anniversary Vow Renewal! Elvis will be there and everything! Well, maybe not everything but it’ll be fun…

  49. Outer Banks of NC. It’s beautiful and can be as isolated or crowd filled as you want. There’s plenty to do in terms of tours–wild horses, dolphins, hang gliding, parasailing, kayaking –or you can sit on the beach and read and not talk to anyone!

  50. San Diego! We’ve got beaches, Zoo & Safari Park, Legoland, water parks, downtown, Seaport Village, Old Town, … plus, bring a passport, you can run across the border to Tijuana and get all your prescriptions filled real cheap!

  51. We’re a low-key, low-budget family. We love New York State, and thoroughly enjoyed Saratoga/Cooperstown/Fort Ticonderoga/Lake George. And coastal Maine is heavenly. But I leave a little piece of my heart in California when I visit. Coastal CA is so beautiful.

  52. My favorite trip? Iceland. It’s a freakin’ GORGEOUS country, and the people are really nice (plus tasty waffles). But there are certain things I’ve done in the US that were fun. Boston was great – Science Museum, Aquarium, Quincy Market, all the historical stuff, and whale watching.

  53. Our best family vacation ever was to the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell. We rented a pontoon boat and went out on Lake Powell for a day, and it was just fantastic–it’s like the Grand Canyon filled up with water.

  54. My husband and I drove from Napa to Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway and did all the touristy stuff on the way. Muir Woods, Monterey Aquarium, elephant seals in San Simeon, sea lions and Ghiradelli sundaes in San Francisco… it was so lovely.

  55. Cruises make a great, and affordable, family vacation and there are tons of options ranging from 4-7 days. You can do different shore excursions at each port and if you find a ship with fun kid activities, you and Victor can enjoy some adult time while she hangs out with a bunch of kids. Plus all food is included. You only have to pay for booze (but they have packages for that to make it cheaper too). Other than that, I would say one of my most memorable family trips was to the Yucatan peninsula so we could explore all the Mayan ruins…we were older though, high school & college age at the time.

  56. I really enjoyed Yellowstone, I was 10 when we went. We also hit Mt. Rushmore and the blackhills of South Dakota while we were up thattaway. Hawaii was lovely, the island we were on (Kauai) is not touristy, there’s no crazy amusement parks or anything like that so not crowded. Plus beach, SCUBA/snorkeling, boat tours, luaus, mai tais (plenty of them), sunsets that will make you cry, pineapple plantations, coffee plantations, the red dirtness, the Hana trail… Lots to do, but not so scary that you will hide in your hotel the whole time. Also, i was 13 when we went and still loved it, despite my hormonal teenage angst.

  57. We had such a great time in South Dakota. It was one of those family vacations that we will talk about for years. Our ac went out on the drive in to SD. We went through caves, hiked in the Badlands (where I threatened to toss my 3 year old off a cliff jokingly of course and she flipped her hair at me and said I couldn’t because she was too ‘flabulous’), drove through the Black Hills, saw a beautiful ceremony at Crazy Horse Memorial, we saw the poor person’s Disney World at Storybook Island, saw Mt. Rushmore, and much to my son’s delight–made it entirely through the alphabet sighting game without cheating during our car-ride. (No joke–there was a sign for an x-treme pyrotechnic shop). Also, a guy argued with me at the Dinosaur Park when I said it reminded me of a scene from a PeeWee Herman movie. But then again, he might have been arguing with himself. It was really hard to tell.

  58. I agree with Route 101 – it was amazing! We went to the Winchester Mystery House, Hearst Castle, kayaked, visited elephant seals, went to baseball games in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Also the National Parks in Northern Arizona – Southern Utah. Bryce Canyon and Zion were amazing! We did a lot of hiking and horseback riding.

  59. I’ve never been on one personally, but what about a cruise? Plenty to do, but also a place nearby to rest and get away from crowds.

  60. Ostia antica Italy, not too crowded, close enough to Rome to get in a few sites but not feel trapped but the ruins will have you feeling like a kid again as you explore them

  61. If, and I repeat IF, you can deal with massive heat and humidity, then I suggest Key West. Summer is the offseason, everything is cheaper & way less crowded. There are lots of activities on the water & on land, museums (visit Robert the Doll if you dare), history, architecture and world class dining. And a desserts only restaurant called Better than Sex 🙂 (hope it is still there, it is fantastic).

  62. Rent a place in Carlsbad CA for a week (I had great luck with a landlord i found on VRBO, great cottages within 2 blocks of the beach). Not too expensive, quiet little town with a beautiful beach, but within a short drive or train ride to Los Angeles, and a quick drive down towards San Diego with the zoo, coronado island, and really great family friendly surf lessons through Surf Divas in La Jolla.

  63. Seattle WA and then Victoria BC. Seattle has all the typical tourist trappings (Pike Place Market, Space Needle, the Aquarium, etc.). And the Victoria Clipper is a high-speed foot ferry that blasts up the sound to Victoria BC. Everything in Victoria is in the downtown core – the Royal Museum (a gigantic masterpiece of total awesomeness) is there on the bay and within walking distance to everything. LOTS of organized tours in BC to places like the Butchart Gardens and whatnot. A taste of two different places (and the money comes in different colors!).

  64. Riviera Maya. Any of the resorts near Tulum and there are 3 tour parks nearby: Xel Ha (snorkeling and such), Xplor (ziplines, cave tubing, etc), and Xtapa, a Mayan cultural park. We stayed at the Aventura Spa Palace, but I believe it’s a Hard Rock now. So much fun.

  65. Don’t come to NYC in the summer… the crowds + the heat = the worst.
    The Florida Keys? So many nature preserves for hiking & bird watching, kayak excursions, boat/catamaran trips, dolphin watching, snorkeling, etc. If you go to Key West you can take a ferry way out to the Dry Tortugas & explore the old fort on the island. Flying into Miami & then driving through the islands to Key West (with stops along the way) is really fun.

  66. New Orleans in a heartbeat. Most wonderful blend of cultures there. You can find crowded spots, and you can find quiet areas, too. A little hot at times, but our family didn’t mind so much. Yes, FAMILY in New Orleans. It’s definitely a fam-friendly vacation spot despite what you may have heard. Such warm, welcoming people there. The best music. And the FOOD OMG! I blogged about our trip on neworleans.com, but they’ve since removed their blog section. I’d be happy to send you my articles via email if you’d like.

  67. The Outer Banks off NC coast. Golfing, swimming, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, sightseeing, ferries, bicycling, lighthouses, Mustang Island…. Or Savannah Ga and Charleston SC. Shopping, music, oceans, ghost tours, great food, lots to do.

  68. Because it’s summer and Texas is HOT, go to Banff Canada. Hiking, friendly Canadians, gorgeous mountains, etc.

    Another option could be the Columbia Gorge at the Oregon/Washington border. About an hour’s drive from the Portland airport. A couple hours drive to Mount Saint Helens (including sites like the Trail of Two Forests, the Lahar Fields, etc – you can drive to many of the cool sites), lots of nearby hiking, gorgeous waterfalls, sailboarding, kiteboarding, or kayaking on the Columbia River. Loads of wineries and breweries nearby. Really cool lodge on Mount Hood.

  69. Also, “Hailey’s off for the summer”? Does she usually have a summer job?

  70. Come to Portland, Oregon. Enjoy the food carts. Go wander around the gorge. Trek down to the Oregon Vortex. Good times!

  71. Yellowstone isn’t boring – there is hiking and geysers and bison and hot springs. But I love the Canadian Rockies – hiking, mountains, glaciers (if you go north on the icefields parkway), bears, moose, elk, lakes (Lake Louise, Emerald Lake) and towns (Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, Calgary (gateway to the Rockies). We have been there with the kids many times, even when the kids were 4, 8 and 10. It is really nice.

    Enjoy the planning!

  72. Hawaii. You can never go wrong with Hawaii. Tours of the other islands, climbing Diamond Head, lying on the beach. LOVE Hawaii. Or Jupiter. Jupiter’s nice too.

  73. Aruba! If only for a 4×4 rental and a trek out to the Natural Pool! I drove this with a friend and we had a blast, plus it was one of the most beautiful natural places I’ve been to. It also has beautiful beaches, a donkey sanctuary, an working aloe factory, a brewery, horseback riding, sunset cruises, great local restaurants, a mountain with a staircase that you can go up, a lighthouse, a preserve on one side of the island with a bunch of wind turbines…just a lot of random stuff in addition to the gorgeous coastline!

  74. May I recommend Calgary/Drumheller/Banff, AB? Drumheller’s got the Tyrell Dinosaur museum (which is just plain amazing) and lots of amazing hiking routes in the Badlands.

    Calgary, while larger, has an awesome zoo, which happens to be next door to the Spark Science Centre. Plus the incredible attractions of downtown, Glenbow Museum, Calgary Philharmonic, a theatre company whose name I cannot remember.

    Crowds being an issue, do NOT come during Stampede week (Mid-July) it gets batfuck crazy here.

    Banff is about an hour or so west of Calgary, and is located in the mountains, theres hot springs and hiking trails… and so much goddamn nature you can shake a stick at it.

    As a Texan, now living in Alberta, its amazing living here, and I DO highly recommend it for vacations.

  75. Yellowstone is ANYTHING but boring! But there’s also Glacier National Park which is my fave of all the national parks.

  76. I don’t think Yellowstone is boring. It is breathtaking. There are so many things to see there. Old Faithful is crowded, but there’s a lot more in the park than Old Faithful.

  77. Costa Rica. Parts are crowded, but the Monte Verde region is up in the mountains and it’s pretty mellow. You can take horseback tours, hike, explore the rainforest, see buttterfly sanctuaries, animal sanctuaries, tour coffee plantations, etc. Best of all, you’ll get some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.

  78. I’ve been to New Orleans twice, both times before I was old enough to drink, and I still found plenty to do. We (friend, badass grandma and I) stayed in the French Quarter, and it was so beautiful and so fantastic. Fun stuff for everyone–New Orleans museum (complete with ginormous costumes from Mardi Gras parades past), aquarium, fantastic dinners, and tons of spooky stuff and potential new quirky items for your collection (I took home a jewel-studded pillbox shaped like an alligator that opens by pulling the alligator’s jaw off). Just avoid Bourbon street, the rest of the area’s pretty quiet and tourist-friendly. I went in June both times, and it was balls-meltingly hot, but I’m from Maryland, so your tolerance is probably higher.

  79. Glacier National Park is way better than Yellowstone! Gorgeous sights, very few crowds, and lots to do!

  80. Eastern Tennessee/Western North Carolina has some really great stuff available up in the mountains. Zip lines, rafting, hiking, plus the usual assortment of tourist entertainment in the Pigeon Forge, TN area (giant tourist trap). You can rent a house up in the mountains fairly cheaply and enjoy the solitude and just emerge when you want to actually go do stuff 🙂

  81. One day you should choose a vacation to Sicamous BC Canada and go for a houseboat vacation on Shuswap Lake. I am from Salmon Arm BC ( about 20 minutes from Sicamous). (Yes that is the real name of the town) It is the greatest vacation ever!!! 🙂 Let me know if you are coming so I can say Hi.
    Shan

  82. I live in Silver Spring, MD. Washington DC can be fun and manageable as there are many museums and things to do inside so you’re not melting. I can even throw in a tour of Voice of America, courtesy of the hubster. Also, we could totally go find Wolf Blitzer and get more autographs.

  83. Chicago isn’t as exotic as Alaska or South America, but there are a ton of museums and other activities to do. Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Millennium Park, Shedd Aquarium, American Girl store, Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo, Willis Tower (former Sears Tower), the beach on Lake Michigan… I could go on and on. And probably have. If you stay near downtown or Grant Park you can also use public transportation to get to most of these.

    I should probably be on their board of tourism…

  84. If you like hiking, the high peaks in NY Adorandak area are BEAUTIFUL. Lots of trails up mountians or around them, and for calmer days there are wine tours, shopping at local stores and markets, microbrew tours, canoeing in Saranac Lake, and it’s a quick jaunt to 1000 Islands or spelunking.

    Let us know what you pick!

  85. Well, my favorite place to go will likely be a no-go for you: Disney World. It’s amazing and magical, but it also has crowds and can be overwhelming with so much to see/do in a short period of time.

    I’d second Saratoga because it’s near me. It might be a bit crowded since it is racing season, but it won’t be Disney World or New York City level crowds. There’s a nice lake near there. My wife’s aunt has a house on the lake and we love going there to boat or relax. While there, you could also go to Howe Caverns (about an hour away) or Lake George (about 45 minutes away).

    If you do plan on come to this area, feel free to let me know if you need a tour guide. (Not me as I’m horrible with directions and stuff… I’d be volunteering my wife who is much better at that sort of thing. 😉 )

  86. Hawaii.. you can always day trip to one of the smaller islands too. Luau’s, hiking, snorkeling, surfing. Maui has the Dole Pineapple factory and the Polynesian Cultural center. Big Island has a volcano national park. Lots of fun things to do!

  87. Acadia National Park in Maine, you can do things in Bar Harbor, go on a lobster boat, check out the park, eat lots of amazing food and if you go now it isn’t too busy. Not sure if the whales are there yet (you could go whale watching) and I think there is a puffin excursion as well.

  88. Maine. You can take a ferry out to the Calendar Islands, you can go blueberry picking, hiking, or shopping. You might even see a moose.

  89. We’ll also be going to Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse memorial (kind of in between Yellowstone and SDakota is Devil’s Tower – Richard Dreyfus might show up with his potato mountain, you never know)

  90. The Lodge at Whitefish Lake or Coeur D’Alene!! Beautiful and relaxing. Both have great websites

  91. Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. It’s gorgeous, laid back, you can pick fruit, go fishing, or maybe rent a boat and go look for the Ogopogo. Also WINE TOURS.

  92. Hawaii is also awesome, but Michelle is wrong about the Dole Plantation and Polynesian Cultural Center, those are here on Oahu.

  93. Estes Park, CO has a lot to offer, but is REALLY crowded on weekends.We have enjoyed Chattanooga (TN Aquarium, Ruby Falls, Rock City) and Savannah/Tybee Island are also favorites!

  94. Ok, I posted NYC above. But I was wrong. 9 years old is too young. Amtrak to New Orleans. BEST VACATION EVER…and perfect for a 9 year old.

  95. What about a dude ranch in Montana/Idaho/Wyoming? I’ve heard wonderful things and it sounds like it’s desolate, beautiful, with plenty of activities- horses, rafting, hanging with bears, sporting clays (if that’s your thing) etc…Many also have spas, which is where I’d head;)

  96. Or you can come back to Alaska and explore the interior, since you’ve already seen the coastal region. It’s way different and Fairbanks is not crowded at all. Plus you can go to Denali and hike and see bears and stuff. Also, I will personally volunteer to be your interior tour guide…. unless that sounds stalkerish and creepy…. In which case, let’s just pretend I never said that…

  97. North Carolina for the Smokey Mountains or Colorado for the Rockies! I personally love the Smokey Mountains: beautiful hiking, panning for gemstones, waterfalls, delicious food, small towns, driving mountain roads with the windows down and breathing in the crisp, fresh air, etc.

  98. Also, New Orleans… You could go there 100 times and still not see everything. I’ve done some amazing (and some crappy) swamp excursions as well as cemetery and ghost tours… garden district, Audobon Park & Zoo, French Quarter, the food, the music… it’s more than just a 24/7 party down there.

  99. We really enjoy going to Jamaica. Lots to do (or not do) there. Hilton Rose Hall Resort has been our vacation destination 3 times and we haven’t been disappointed. It’s large enough to have great restaurants, water sports, spa, water park, etc… but small enough that you can let your kids have some independence without being worried about them. And it’s all inclusive so you can tell your kids “Sure you can have your 3rd frozen drink of the day” without mentally wondering if you have to mortgage your house. As a mom that usually says “no”, it’s so nice to be able to tell them “yes”. Our kids had the unusual blessing to visit Disney World and the Caribbean in the same year and would go back to Jamaica 30 times before returning to Disney. And Jamaica doesn’t break the bank. It’s easy to do some excursions there as well – especially Dunns River Falls which is a must for first time visitors. Ocho Rios has some nice, safe shopping. There are also other attractions such as swimming with the dolphins, zip-lining, the bobsled training facility, and and and and……..

    No, I’m not a spokesperson for Jamaica or Rose Hall Resort – I just know that we had some of our BEST, most memorable, most enjoyable, and most relaxing vacations there.

  100. I hear that people watching in the Appalachians is rather interesting. And there’s Mountain Dew.

    In all seriousness, we took the kids to DW last year and then went to Clearwater Beach in FL. Disney was crowded and stressful and stupid expensive, but the beach was nice. Lots of stuff for kids.

  101. The Maritimes in Canada! Touring around PEI is wonderful and while Green Gables can get a little bit crowded, it’s the only place that does. Tons of beaches for adventuring, too. Then you can go over to Great Breton Island on Nova Scotia, then down to Halifax. Lots of buskers and wildlife and seashore.

  102. Washington DC! So much to see and do there. Look for not-touristy places, like the Spy Museum!

  103. Koolina on Oahu. We just did it over spring break and it was perfect! I don’t do crowds and was a bit worried, but it was perfect! There are lagoons to hang out at and we never saw more than 8 families at the lagoon we were at the entire time we were there! We stayed here:http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p963786#calendar The catch is you have to rent for a month (it’s a policy of the complex – which is good, no bachelor parties going on, etc.) but you don’t have to stay the whole time and the month is roughly the same as it costs to do a week at the Disney Aulani.

  104. We went to Eureka Springs, AR last year and loved it. There are several underground caves you can tour, a drive through animal park (with a petting zoo). There was a lot of other stuff but we ran out of time. Also, our motel had mini golf, skeeball and other games. We also went to the diamond mine a couple of hours south of there. I thought it was boring but my husband liked it. I’ll email you the link to my pictures from there.

  105. Definitely do NOT come to NYC in the summer. It smells, it’s hot and way too crowded. Fall is the best time of year to see Manhattan in my opinion, US tourists have gone home and the city is left to the locals. Also the trash doesn’t smell so bad when it’s not a million degrees with 2000% humidity! 😉

    In keeping with the Yellowstone idea, what about the Grand Canyon? I’ll bet there are rafting tours and all kinds of group things. I’ve always wanted to ride a burro down to the river & camp; I know they do that at least. Although at Yellowstone I bet they have like ATV tours and things like that.

    As far as the best place I’ve ever been, well that changes as I travel more 😉 I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hawaii though and we try to go every 5 years. Been to a few islands now and there is so much to do on each, kayaking, hiking, swimming/snorkeling/diving, tours or on your own, you name it they have it. Want to see a volcano erupting, you can do that! Want to see some sea turtles, they’re around too! Feel like eating your way from Hilo to Kona, totally doable! Or you can sit on the beach and do nothing. It’s that kind of place that you can do as much or as little as you like. Which sounds like your family might enjoy. Good luck!

  106. If you want mildly touristy, with beautiful weather, activities, and a wonderful setting with not much in the way of people, our favorite hangout when I was a kid was Grand Marais, Minnesota. It’s very out of the way, out on Lake Superior, and the little town only has two stoplights. But there’s plenty of hiking, you can catch a day trip to Isle Royal from Duluth (which also has an aquarium), there’s the Gunflint Trail which has beautiful smaller lakes, and Ely nearby has a wolf center. The weather is usually about 70 degrees and sunny. you can’t really swim in Lake Superior, but you can take a sailboat ride out of the Folk School in Grand Marais (where you can also take crafting classes) or sign up to go kayaking. Plus there’s wolves, moose, bear, otters, and all kinds of other animal friends. http://www.visitcookcounty.com/
    If that’s too out of the way for you, another awesome family spot my family always loved was Tybee Island, Georgia. It’s 20 minutes from Savannah, so you get all the benefits of a historic city, but it’s it’s own little island with a really relaxed vibe. People actually live there year-round, so it’s not as touristy as some places, and it’s not usually that crowded. You can rent a condo or a beach house and spread out. There’s also a library with free books they give to the tourists. There’s plenty of dolphin boat tours on the island and all kinds of things to do in Savannah, plus the benefits of the beach. http://tybeeisland.com/

  107. Maine is good, but I may be biased. Pretty, low stress, great food, shopping in outlets and the quirky sole prop shops, and kick ass beaches. You might have to bleach your eyes post-Ogunquit beaches though. The swim garb there is…brief. If you head to the downeast corridor end of the state you could even visit Perry’s Nuthouse. Because what goes better with a nut museum than taxidermy and fudge?

  108. May I be so bold to suggest visiting Newfoundland, Canada. I live here. I love it here! Lots to see and do! We’re an island (if you aren’t familiar.. think less tropical, more ice) so you could fly into our capital city and drive across the island and end up at our other airport on the other side and leave from there taking in lots of touristy things along the way and be gone again before the end of the week! It only takes about 8-10 hours to drive from one end of the province to the other so if you really hated it here you could be gone again the same day no problem! haha 🙂
    No big crowds, but the city is still exciting enough (in my opinion) to get Victors fix of New York!! There are some pretty interesting places and people here as well so Hailey might think she’s on Jupiter! 🙂 something to think about! 🙂

  109. I think my favorite family vacation was when I was about 10 years old and we went to New Mexico. We went to Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos and made a couple of other small stops. It was so interesting to see a different culture.

  110. I like the drive up Rte 1 along the CA coastline, but can be crowded esp if you start in LA or OC. THE BEST place I’ve ever been was Teton Nat’l Park in WY. It was October and for 3 days we drove around the park trying to find a bear named 399. Now, we never found him, go figure, but we came across elk, moose, hawks, eagles, etc. It was the best trip I’ve ever taken, hands down. I had read that summer is the best time to go, so your trip would be even better! There’s even a Four Seasons Jackson Hole if you’re up for some luxury, otherwise there are some great places to stay, or camp. Whatever you decide, have a great trip!

  111. St. Maartin is great if you get a hotel away from the cruise ship port. Most hotels have someone who knows all the local activities (and often the people who run them). Half of the island is French and half is Dutch. Beaches, sailing, snorkeling, shopping, great food, live music outside, and great ways to enjoy it all while relaxing. It was one of my favorite vacations of all time.

  112. Trip through the Wisconsin Dells to the Home of Kitch, House on the Rock. They have a nice hotel with a submarine in the pool. Your Beatles reenactment miles may vary. Near the House on The Rock is Cave of the Mounds, which will give you an excuse to snicker in appropriately every time you go over your plans. There’s Circus World and some kind of bizzare scultpure garden of old road side stuff featuring a flashing cow. (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/1812) Also, um…cheese.

  113. I was going to recommend New Orleans, but it can be pretty crowded (it’s a city, after all) and it’s hot and humid in the summer beyond what you can imagine. (No, really. I thought, “Hey, I’m from Kentucky. We have humidity. How bad could it be?” Then we went there in August. It really IS if you were trying to breathe through a wet blanket.) Most of my favorite vacations would freak you out (London, England; Manhattan-NY; Chicago, IL; cruise to Mexico), but my daughter recently went to Costa Rica and absolutely LOVED IT. There is a butterfly observatory at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which also features a hotel that is made up of tree houses. (I desperately want to go there!) Volcanoes, rainforest, butterflies, beaches, museums.

  114. Come to Canada! Specifically, go to Vancouver! Absolutely breathtaking scenery among the Rockies. Suspension bridge, hikes up genuine mountains, beautiful Stanley Park for a stroll, amazing aquarium, I don’t know what time of year is good for whale-watching but the ONE TIME I took a ferry from Vancouver to the island I saw a pod of orcas (!!!). Great beaches and generally just a beautiful city so if you want to take an afternoon off you can still just head out and catch a movie and enjoy the shadow of mountains in your everyday hang outs 🙂

  115. I almost forgot one other attraction: Thatcher State Park. You can look out over the fantastic views as you walk on the Indian Ladder Trail around the mountain. And by “around”, I mean that part of the trail puts you with about three feet between the mountain and a steep drop off. So that might be a bit stressful. My boys and I handled it pretty well, though, a few years back: http://www.techydad.com/2012/10/hiking-the-indian-ladder-trail/

  116. Yellowstone is awesome! My grandma lives on the outskirts of the Grand Teton National Park, and we went every couple of years. I loved it as a kid and still do.

    Puerto Rico (where we currently live) is pretty awesome too. I’m biased to Vieques, which might be better for wanting to do outdoor activities (great snorkeling, the bio bay, lagoon tours, hiking, sugar mill ruins, etc).

  117. Maine!! Coastal Maine is where I vacationed as a kid and I still dream about it. Do NOT do NYC in summer…the smell could be weaponized. I wish I didn’t have to be here for it! 😉
    Yellowstone/grand Tetons is a hood combo, too.

  118. Colorado Springs. Loved it in November (which is saying something because I hate winter) and imagine I’d go totally ape shit over the place in summer. Can see all the top spots in 4-5 days. Not sure about crowds at this time of year, though.

  119. Australia. When I was 18 I hung out at Sidney harbor (on the Rocks) while my mom worked for a few days, then took a couple of day trips to the surrounding areas like the Blue Mountains. So many things to do, it’s like, an entirely different country 🙂

  120. San Fran Bay Area. Travel up the coast. Down to Montery Bay. Lots to do, see and eat.

  121. Garner State Park in TX. Swim or tube on the Frio. Hike. Every1 goes to the concession bldg at night to dance outdoors. Beautiful.

  122. Eureka springs, Arkansas. Adorable Victorian town known for ghost tours, healing springs,caves under the town, right on lake, zip lining, shopping, tons of flea markets, and turpentine creek big cat refuge. Look it up, please, and please, please come see me.

  123. My wife and I drove up to Canada for no reason and then hung out at a mall that is one of the largest malls in the world to go ice skating inside the mall. We also wanted to see the northern lights but someone forgot to turn the lights on for us. so we missed them.

  124. Have you ever been to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan? We have a giant moose statue and TWO Tim Hortons.

  125. We loved Yellowstone! There is SOOOO much to see! The park is huge and beautiful. We went about this time of year in 2006 when our kids were 3, 7, and 10. Yes, Old Faithful can be crowded. But there are tons of other geysers, rivers, pools, wildlife. We were up close & personal with bison and antelope, we saw bears from a safe distance, and we even got up early one morning to see wolves. We laughed – you knew there was some sort of animal activity when traffic started to slow down. We heard a ranger on his radio refer to an “animal jam” on the road. The junior ranger activities are really great for kids, too! Not too far from there is Mount Rushmore, which is totally worth it, and Custer State Park in South Dakota. It’s a state park, but its wildlife rivals many national parks. I was blown away. Other great national parks: Yosemite and Grand Tetons. Both beautiful and amazing. I’m not a “nature girl” at all, but I loved these places!!

  126. Favorite childhood vacation memories – Arkansas; digging for “diamonds” in what were basically quartz fields, hiking, playing in streams and seeing the hot springs in, well, Hot Springs. Hey, we weren’t money-rich. And pretty much anything involving zoos and natural history museums. In addition to being money-challenged, we were also rather nerdy.

  127. What about Mackinaw Island in Michigan with some side trips? Ride a ferry over. No motorized traffic. All bikes and horses.

  128. Maine has been my favorite place to live so far…moose watching and lighthouse touring can definitely be done in the summer. My very favorite nature activity has been swimming with manatees in Crystal River Florida, but that is better done in the winter time when they are crowded in the springs.

  129. I did some very minor hiking in Colorado Springs and it wasn’t very crowded, but I went in early fall, not summer. It was amazing and I would absolutely go again if I could.

  130. Internationally: Samoa (Western, not American). It’s BEAUTIFUL, it’s cheap, and people are super duper friendly. Closer international: Vancouver. Lovely, historic, good camping but also very civilized civilization.

    US: Hrm. New Orleans and Key West have been on my bucket list for a long time. (Check out the Key Deer Refuge).

    Anywhere you go, you three are going to have a great time together, even if it’s a disaster, because that’s just how y’all roll.

  131. Hawaii – specifically the Big Island. It has surfing, snorkeling, black sand beaches, jungles, rolling hills, plains like out west, mountains, coffee and macadamia nut plantations, luaus, warm weather, an astronomical observatory, and an ACTIVE VOLCANO!!!!

  132. Glacier National Park in northwest Montana. Amazing. The little town of Whitefish is delightful in the summer, and the park is so gorgeous. Boat rides, hikes, lakes to lounge next to, nature.

  133. You like Alaska? Camp Denali and Northface Lodge is the most incredible, gorgeous, and soul-soothing vacation we’ve ever taken. We stayed at Camp Denali (individual cabins, hot showers, plumbing, gourmet meals, but smack in the middle of Denali National Park). They also have a Lodge, which is more like a rustic but beautiful hotel. You can basically plan your stay however you want. We did “moderate” hikes most days, my husband did a “strenuous” hike while I lay around looking at the mountain and reading on the cabin porch, and we did a “leisurely” tour and saw tons of wildlife. We also planned a day where we took bikes on the road to get to the lake, then kayaked together for a few hours and had a picnic lunch. I can’t imagine a more relaxing, breathtaking, or detail-and-guest-oriented place to stay. Guests ranged from 20-somethings, retirees, middle-aged couples, families with young to teenage kids, and also the entire cast and crew of of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (that was awesome!). All our other vacations will be held to the Camp Denali standard, and if we can, we’ll make it back there someday…

    Link is here: http://campdenali.com/

  134. Hawaii. The flight is tough, sorry to say, but once you get there, in 4-5 days you can do quite a lot, or very little (lay on a beach). Oahu is beautiful but extremely crowded (until you get away from Honolulu, then it’s just lovely). The Big Island is very different and very “mixed” in its scenery – lava deserts, pastures, tropical rain forests… lots to do and see (from beaching and sightseeing to snorkel and scuba, to walking thru a volcano crater) but everything pretty spaced out and none too terribly crowded, as a rule. [The Hawaii Revealed guidebooks are awesome and will help you identify what best to see, how best to see it, and with whom.] The Big Island has enough to do and see to fill weeks if you have them, but you can always pace to see a few “high priority” items and just know you’re going back again. 😀 Good luck and have a wonderful family vacation, whatever you decide.

  135. If you like quaint little villages you can do Maine or New England in general. My parents live in Savannah and we are going to Hilton Head, but I’m not sure there is 4-5 days of stuff there besides going to the beach most days, but that’s nice too. The California coast is nice and you can get a mix of bigger places for Victor and quieter places for you. I myself like the beach, so anywhere beachy works for me, and the islands are nice (though as the season goes on there are more likely to be hurricanes). My vote would be New England – VT or Maine. I did have a nice trip to Prince Edwards Island (of Anne of Green Gables fame) in Canada one vacation.

  136. We loved the barrier islands off of North Carolina. Kitty Hawk has cool museum about the Wright brothers, light houses, wild mustangs, ocean, and lots of historical day trips.

  137. I also would suggest Sedona! I loved waking up and seeing the red rocks! It was beautiful! Plus, you can drive and spend a day or two at the Grand Canyon, and there are lots of tours, helicopter rides, etc. that you could do there! I LOVED seeing the sunset on the west end of the Grand Canyon! And you can stop in Flagstaff on your way up or back down to Sedona and see Route 66!

  138. (1) Yosemite is amazing and ruined the rest of nature for me. Lots to do and explore there. Hiking, waterfalls, even swimming and horseback riding. Also the rangers do a good job with programs and tours for the whole family.

    (2) My sister and her family went to Aulani – the Disney resort in Hawaii. Everyone – even the adults – came back happy. Something for everyone.

  139. http://youtu.be/GJqoky8gyhE

    This place was highly recommended to me and it looks like a lot of fun. Plus, I heard it used to be an old Navy base and they tried to build a bridge to the larger island but then something happened and they just stopped so there’s this half finished bridge just sitting there. I also heard that there are still NO TRESPASSING signs up which leads me to believe that great adventures could take place here.
    The video also shows horseback riding that looks nice. I was told you can rent a Jeep and go exploring and take in the sights.

  140. I’m not sure how far you are looking to travel, but here are my ideas. A dude ranch in Colorado. We did that when we were kids ( 9 – 10 ish) and it was awesome. Hawaii (Maui or Kauai). Lots of excursion options or just chill at the beach. Puerto Rico is fabulous and beautiful as well. I would say the Grand Canyon, but that might be too much crowds/edge of cliffs if you are not into that sort of thing.

  141. Palisade, CO. It’s a neat, arty town within range of some beautiful day trips. You can tour the vineyards and the orchards, head up to Euray and take a Jeep tour, or go over to Durango and take a train ride through the mountians. It’s beautiful.

  142. I loved Vermont. I stayed in Burlington but was able to see a lot of the state. There are a lot of small towns with cute General stores, nice antique shops and many local artists. I did the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour and got samples. I took a boat ride on Lake Champlain and saw the inn the VonTrapp family ran when the moved to America. The weather was great, low humidity and cool at night.

  143. Hawaii. Zip lining and surfing and snorkeling and horseback riding and luaus and hiking… All the fun!

    Glacier National Park is also one of the prettiest places in North America.

    Minneapolis is a fun city, but not crowded the way New York or other large cities are. Lots of theater, museums, sports, outdoor activities, and restaurants. Just avoid the Mall of America.

  144. I LOVE the central California coast. Cambria is amazing – I could spend hours on Moonstone Beach just sitting sorting through rocks. Plus just a few minutes drive from Hearst Castle which is pretty cool. Tons of wineries close by. Lots of places to walk, hike. If you go north to San Jose you can go to the Winchester Mystery Mansion and that is pretty cool (that was one freaked out lady). Plus if you make your way through San Francisco, you get to the Redwoods and the Napa and Sonoma Valleys . Hot air balloon rides there are pretty awesome and bike tours too(although biking and drinking tours seem like a bad idea to me). They also have kayak tours I saw advertised and I think they have some kind of African Safari park up there somewhere. Of course, there is also the wine train, just like on Big Bang Theory.

  145. Mesa Verde Colorado for in the USA. The cliff dwelling tours are amazing, but you need to be physically active or Jasper State park in Canada, kayaks, scenery Lake Louise, camping or lodges. Or nothing beats Kauai HI

  146. Sanibel Island, Florida was one our best vacations ever (with kids ages 11 and 8 at the time). You can rent a condo which always gives everyone plenty of space and there are lots of casual things to do there. You can: go kayaking in the nature preserve, wander the beach for shells any time of day (and during low tide the pools are filled with nature), shop in the cute shops, take a boat tour, etc. It was a great “chill” vacation for all four of us.

  147. Jasper National Park, Alberta. The summer is a little less touristy than in ski season, but there’s still lots to do and see within a short drive. I like staying at the Patricia Lake Bungalows.

  148. Sunriver in Oregon. It’s sunny and warm but not crazy-Texas hot…there’s white water rafting, hiking, swimming, and a fun day camp thing kids can go to. The town is big enough to have stuff but not too big where it’s stressful. And everyone there is super-chilled out and relaxed. HIGHLY recommend it. http://www.sunriver-resort.com/

  149. Colonial Williamsburg. There is that site, Busch Gardens (if that’s your thing. It isn’t mine), Jamestown, Yorktown, hiiking, the beach is less then an hour away. I love it there. If you go make sure to get some hot chocolate and see George Washington speak. He was excellent.

  150. I think if you liked Alaska, you’ll like Yellowstone and Grand Teton for the animal encounters. And you can always pop into Jackson, WY for horseback riding and other western amusements if the bison, wolves, bears, coyotes, elk, and hot springs fail to amuse. It’s one of my favorite national parks, and the wildlife sightings are second only to Denali, I think.

  151. Hands down… Outer Banks, NC. Beaches, Museums, Ghost Tours – stay mid to south where it’s less populated. Kitty Hawk/Nags Head area. It is Heaven. Absolute Heaven and my favorite place on earth.

  152. Caribbean Cruise would be my first suggestion. Also, Washington DC lots to do and see and they have a great zoo, museums, and botanical gardens. Smoky Mountains are beautiful and there’s Dollywood theme park, the Biltmore Mansion just into NC and Sieverville has quite a bit to offer. I would say come out to Vegas but it’s too hot to really enjoy the scenery like Valley of Fire, etc.

  153. How about New Orleans? There’s lots to do besides the French Quarter – take a swamp tour, have lunch on a riverboat cruise on the Steamboat Natchez, do a cemetery tour (or an Anne Rice tour; or a jazz tour…there are lots of types of tours), catch some live music, visit the Saint Louis Cathedral, and eat lots of good food!

  154. Oregon coastline. Lots of things to see, do and the most beautiful scenery ever! You can fly into Portland and then just wind your way up and down. There are the beaches, of course, but also the Astoria Column, Maritime Museum,the Tillamook Cheese Factory (c’mon! You tour a CHEESE factory), Air Museum, there is a dinosaur park somewhere along their, too, seal caves, aquariums, and on and on. About every 12ft there is something to do. PLUS you could eat at one of four Pig & Pancake restaurant locations.

  155. It’s a toss up for me between Edinburgh, because it feels like home to my soul and Newfoundland because it’s empty and awesome and beautiful. I guess if I could throw my crap in a bag and run for the airport, I’d be heading to Edinburgh, but Newfoundland would be a close second.

  156. Maine – base in Portland or Bar Harbor, take the harbor tour for Portland and visit the lighthouse, Cadillac Mountain/Acadia National Park, Popham Beach, Thunder Hole (it’s PG, I promise), and so much more! You can just roam up and down the coast and do what strikes your fancy with a little planning – Mail boat tours, there’s a nice little aquarium in Boothbay Harbor and oh man, the seafood. If you like that kind of thing.

    Oops, just noticed that I’m posting after someone else with great vacation taste!

  157. My hands-down favorite vacation spot (thus far anyway) is the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. My fiance and I are climbers, though, and that’s the area’s biggest draw. World-class climbing up in there! But they also have lots of gorgeous hiking trails, and since there’s a river I would presume you could do some sort of canoeing/fishing. Probably other touristy things as well, though we don’t waste precious climbing time on those. If you go, make sure to grab a pizza from Miguel’s–it’s phenomenal. But maybe send your hubby in to place the order, it gets packed around mealtime.

  158. Michigan. Seriously. Northern Michigan is amazing.
    Lake Michigan is like the ocean without sharks, jellyfish and salt.
    Mackinac Island is like time traveling.
    No poisonous snakes or spiders.
    Traverse City is amazing, Torch Lake is completely out of place with tropical waters.
    Michigan is super underrated.
    If you live in Michigan, it’s where you vacation!
    Pure Michigan.

  159. Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands. The games. The accents. The castles. I took a river tour and it was great fun.

  160. Crested Butte, CO.

    A quirky weird little town with lots to do. Not so many crowds either.

  161. I skimmed comments and I agree with those that mentioned Acadia National Park in Maine. If you like hiking at all, it is awesome!!
    Might I also suggest (in case it hasn’t been mentioned) a trip to Kanab, Utah to visit Best Friends Animal Society? You guys are animal lovers and it is well worth a visit to tour the ginormous facilities and also to volunteer. I went once as a side trip while visiting Vegas. But I am saving up to go back and stay and volunteer for a few days so that I can volunteer with different kinds of animals (just did dog walking last time). They even have “sleep overs”…Hailey would love to have an animal sleep over! It’s also near some beautiful parks like Bryce.

  162. How do you sort through all these replies?!? In case you’re still reading, I second the Savannah, GA suggestion. But above that, I suggest the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Beautiful beaches, tons of history, AND you can rent jeeps to drive on the beach which is so much fun. You can also book a wild horse adventure. A guide will take you out on the beach in a jeep where wild horses live. There’s also water activities like paddle boarding, parasailing, kite surfing, kayaking, deep sea fishing, etc, etc. My family and I have taken this vacation several times and it’s never gotten boring and we’ve made some fantastic memories.

  163. I second whoever said Savannah, GA – lots of history there, great tours, and its more kid-friendly than New Orleans. I also love the San Juan Islands between Washington and British Columbia, Canada. It’s a slower pace, but you can go whale-watching, hiking, sailing and shopping and eating at the cute little port town on Orcas Island. Plus, you can either go into Washington or up into Canada for a day – they have ferries that go to and from either place.

    Man, now I want to go back…sigh

  164. We went to Washington a couple of years ago. Many museums – the spy museum and the newseum were particularly interesting. Lots of outdoor spaces to explore and a lovely zoo – we didn’t make it there but I hear its great. Happy Vacationing!

  165. St. Croix. Quick airline trip and the island is beautiful, relaxing and has terrific snorkeling.

  166. Vancouver is where I will be vacationing: Vancouver British Columbia in the West coast of Canada. Don’t worry, we really are overly polite here, and those in Vancouver are super chill compared to the stressed out southern ontarians I’m surrounded by each day. Right. Vancouver: Bike trails in Stanley Park, markets and shopping in the city core for those who like it, various markets-notably Granville Island–, THE aquarium (which also hosts a kids free evening, haha!), science centre for youth, Capilano suspension bridge and park, lots of little breweries (sorry, maybe that’s just my shtick :P), tours I’m sure are plenty, nice view of the mountains and of course the sea with various beaches (including a nudie one!) to visit depending on the weather. I’ve never found it particularly crowd filled there when I’ve visited. It’s the best balance of people, food, and open space IMO; my husband is trying to get a job there so we can move!

    Not sure how far you want to go, but Europe is lovely too. I had an excellent time on organized trips (ie lots of tours, museums, sight seeing) in London, UK and the surrounding area. We did Stone Henge, the city of Bath, Oxford, and Windsor Castle along with sight seeing in London itself, including some great alternative theatre. Loved pretty much every museum I visited too. Food was kind of meh though. The rest of my times in Europe have been in Paris which is always crawling with people so probably really not your style, despite the most delicious foods ever!!

  167. I loved Grand Cayman Island. Not known for it’s food, though. It was amazing to be sitting on the beach, then put on your own snorkel mask, snorkel tube and fins and snorkel just a few feet off the shore, no tour boat needed. We saw thousands and thousands of gorgeous fish. That was February, though, I’d research the weather first. We went on a horseback ride along the beach and chartered a tiny boat to go see Stingray City. The big boats are super crowded, though. Would love to go back. There are wonderful and expensive hotels on 7 Mile Beach, but also timeshares you can rent. Don’t stay anywhere but 7 Mile Beach. And be sure to go to the champagne brunch at the Ritz Carlton on Sunday. Reservations needed.

  168. normally, I don’t have really great things to say about my adopted state, but I have to say the Oregon coast is lovely. Not crowded, cool tide pools, woods, lakes and beaches to explore. EXCELLENT coastal aquarium, awesome clam chowder and more microbreweries and local wineries than you can throw a stick at. Plus, there always seems to be some esoteric festival going on

  169. I live in the Turks and Caicos Islands (Providenciales, 1 1/2 hour flight from Miami). US dollar currency, Everyone speaks English, very very quiet in that you may have less than 20 people on the beach at a given time with crystal clear water. Most hotels are condo style, so you don’t have to eat out every meal (just pick up things at the grocery store) and everything is less than 10 minutes away. You can Kayak, paddleboard, snorkel, salt water fly fish, spend a day going to one of the other islands, either going to the caves or old plantations from 1700’s. We have a whole cay (pronounced key) that has endangered small rock iguanas that come up to you. Most people love to visit and come back. A good intro to the island is the free ipad app magazine, “Island Life and Times” that will give you all the back issues photo and video to see what to do and some cool stuff and people. In the entire country (30 islands) we only have 25,000 residents. It’s relaxing and modern (amazing hospital/doctors and modern grocery stores, a little bit of shopping and a fabulous Ice cream/coffee and champagne bar) but very quiet. You can do as much or as little as possible. From Texas, you would fly AA or Delta to Providenciales (PLS). After you arrive at the airport it’s 15 minutes max to the hotels… no soliciting on the beach, great food and beautiful water. My husband is a photographer here and we’ve lived here for 20 years if you have any questions

  170. The Maritimes in Eastern Canada (on the top of my bucket list) or the Rockies in Western Canada. Plus, it’s out of country so you can say you took an exotic vacation.

  171. My husband & I did a 5 day trip to Yellowstone in Winter and loved it. We did a wildlife viewing tour with Brushbruck. Loved Yellowstone and they were an excellent outfit. We enjoyed it so much and are going back this fall. Plan to hike (read A Rangers Guide toYellowstone Day Hikes), so a scenic tour down the Snake River (not whitewater) and 1/2 day horseback ride.

    For the beach, I love Playa del Carmen, but if you don’t like crowds you may find 5th Ave too much. Cabo is nice too, but unholy hot in summer.

  172. There is so much to explore on Vancouver Island, like the capital city of Victoria (Royal BC Museum! Fisherman’s Wharf! More British than Britain!), Tofino (surfing & beaches!), Qualicum (caves!), Parksville (more beaches!), Englishman River Falls, Strathcona Provincial Park, Campbell River (fishing!), and so much more. If I didn’t live here, I’d want to visit.

  173. Key west. It’ll be hot, but who cares. It’s laid back, they celebrate every sunset, the food is good. There’s stuff to do if you want too…perfect snorkeling, fishing, water sports, 6 toed cats, beaches, catamaran day trip to the haunted jail/military base, etc

  174. How about the moon – it’s much closer than Jupiter. It used to be really popular but not so much anymore. I think there’s a free hostel there too. Bring your sandals!

  175. Beat family vacations were the road trips. We would go from Dallas to the space center in Alabama (Huntsville? ) then to the Biltmore mansion in North Carolina, then to Mammoth caves in Kentucky. Explore the US! I’d recommend historic Williamsburg or Jamestown.

  176. Come to Cape Cod!! Biking, whale watching, Kennedys, lobsters, surfing, parasailing, Provincetown, tons of shopping, tons of eating, tons of fun! Then close by Plimoth Plantation, Boston, Lexington & Concord, Salem. It pretty much blows all others out of the water.

  177. Add my recommendation to Sedona. Beautiful, lots to do. Although we spend most of our vacation time in Vermont (also beautiful), we have been to Sedona a few times and look forward to going back again, balloon rides, close to grand canyon also. great eclectic shops along with the usual touristy stuff, lots of art and spiritual things if you are into that.

  178. I’ve never been anywhere in Colorado that I didn’t absolutely love. Durango, Winter Park, Colorado Springs, Granby, Grand Lake, Estes Park (although that one is usually a bit more crowded)…. Seriously, the whole state is just awesome.

  179. Well, my idea of a good vacation is sitting on the beach for a week with several dozen good books. But I have some better ideas, if you want them.

    We always spend a week at a cottage at Presque Isle in Erie, PA. It’s better than it sounds. Erie has an amusement park, a casino, and a zoo, plus there’s an outlet mall in Grove City, PA and Cleveland is close by. The State Park has 13 beaches with different events going on all the time, biking, hiking, boating and a wild life sanctuary. We get a cottage from kelsobeachrentals.com.

    There’s also Niagara Falls, which if you’ve never been has so many interesting things to do. Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, casinos, parks, butterfly sanctuary, rides and attractions galore. I’d suggest a tour, so you can see everything, try Over the Falls Tours.

    Niagara Falls is also close to Toronto, so you could do a day trip. So much to do there. If you like jazz music, you have to visit the Rex Hotel. Last time we were there, we sat at the band table and they invited me to sing with them!

    If money is no object, we just went to the UK in January and London was amazing. Although if you don’t like people that could be a problem cause I’d say it’s more crowded that NYC. I’m not much of a people person myself, but I loved it! We also went to Cardiff, Wales for a day and I got to tour the Doctor Who Experience. It was a total life highlight, but then I’ve loved DW since the 70’s. If you’re interested, there are pics from the DWE on my blog.

    Where ever you go, hope you have a blast!

  180. New Orleans is great. And quieter in the summer, so if you can stand the heat I’d highly recommend it.
    I also love NM. Santa Fe, the city in the sky and Taos and bandalier (sp?)state park and many other touring places. Gorgeous, educational and grand. The jewelry at the square in sante Fe is tops and affordable, and you get to talk to the artists and bargain and learn and just soak it all in. And the food…. Now I’m hungry.

    Lastly, I saw someone recommend Maine. And I love it there. Cape cod mass is my fav New England destination but it’s busy in the summer. Maine is more relaxing. My hubby and mys first vacation together when we lived in Boston was to Maine.

    Which reminds me, now that we live in the south we’ve vacationed twice to pidgeon forge, TN. So new lastly…. It’s Very peaceful and affordable. There is Dollywood, which we havnt done but people speak highly of I’m sure Haylie would love it. We mostly go to gaitlenberg and rent a cabin in the woods and hike about. There are tours and fun stuff about there too.

    Wherever you go, enjoy! And tell us all about it.

  181. Wisconsin. Fly into Madison. Eat at Ella’s Deli. Stop at the Dells. Then go to the House on the Rock in Spring Green. I read on a blog once that the House on the Rock is like the T.A.R.D.I.S., but you get to see the other rooms. Throw in fishing and kayaking or canoeing and a Friday fish fry, and you have met Wisconsin.

  182. Pennsylvania could be good. Laurel Caverns and other caves to explore, Amish country, Hershey (the town that smells like chocolate). If you can stand Philly, Liberty Bell and get your photo taken with the Rocky statue, plus the Mutter Museum http://muttermuseum.org (weird medical stuff; you will love it – don’t know about Hailey).

  183. Come to Traverse City MI
    Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Park
    Lots of lovely beaches on Lake Michigan nearby to visit.
    Lots of lakes for fishing
    Mackinac Island is very close.
    Lighthouses all over the place.

    just not during the Cherry Festival (July 4th) if you don’t like crowds.

  184. Pacific Northwest is great. It has lots of beauty and not many crowds but requires lots of car time. But, really, I’d say go to Big Island on Hawaii. You can stay at a resort with tons of stuff for Hailey, or you can just rent a house with a pool and relax privately. There are glass bottom boats, fishing, seeing the volcano, going to a Luau, and amazing scenery that looks like another planet.

  185. Big Island, Hawai’i was one of my best. Volcanoes, historic archeological sites, night snorkelling with manta rays, day snorkelling with dolphins, turtles everywhere, a trip up to the Mauna Kea observatory and guided stargazing with experts. We stayed at the Mauna Lani resort where turtles come up on the beach to rest, and when we got there (from the UK, so after a long, long trip) it was so beautiful I literally cried. If you stay there, you’ll need a car to get around, though. I think you guys would love Iceland too, but a bit of a trek from the States if you’re only going for a few days.

  186. Why not come to Canada? We’re friendly, polite, the landscape is beautiful, and the exchange rate works in your favour. There are lots of things to do!

  187. Since it is summer, you might want to avoid certain locales that are beautiful, but deadly hot in the summer — including most of the south and east coast. Have you been to any of the Islands off Seattle or Vancouver, like the San Juan Islands? This type of trip can combine city life (Vancouver), outdoor activities, and beautiful scenery. And the weather is pretty good.

    Then again, have you ever been to San Jose, CA? There is a good Applebee’s there.

  188. Yeah, Jupiter’s a bit of a commute. Closest you can get concept-wise would be the Kennedy Space Center or maybe the Wright Brothers National Memorial. There really isn’t much to do at the Wright Memorial but it really meant a lot to me to go there. The place is so steeped in history, you can almost smell it. Or that could’ve been the Dairy Queen across the street.

  189. Renting a boat and sailing around the keys. It’s amazing, sun, sand, snorkeling, all the marine life. The whole family living on a boat for a couple of days.

  190. Kauai. But it does involve a long flight. However, the scenery is gorgeous, the beaches are not crowded and you can kick back and just relax.

  191. Well, you’re in central Texas, what about a cave tour? You can drive to several within an hour, and if you’re feeling adventurous enough to make your way out West to see the one in Sonora you could go drive up the road a bit and hit Carlsbad, it’s the Mac-Daddy of them all. From there it’s just a hop-n-skip to lunch and a day on Jupiter (or as we call it here on Earth, Roswell.) http://www.goodearthgraphics.com/showcave/tx.html

  192. Savannah and Charleston are awesome destinations. Just not in the summer. You will die. This is from a GA/SC girl. Love Niagara/Toronto if you have passports. And Montreal feels like going to Europe, only a shorter plane ride. I love anywhere I can go on a boat ride!

  193. We liked Boston ( the freedom trail is great), Washington DC (get on a tour of the Capital and the Washington Monument is open again too), we live in New York so we are partial to this area. LAke Placide is a fun resort area in the summer too. Lake George in NY has a really nice resort and is supposed to be quite idyllic. People like to go to Montauk out on the Island. I heard North Carolina has great resorts. I think the only places you can go with fewer crowds would be south during the summer. Florida is nice especially the west coast, but its not fun for a 9 year old. Atlantis resort could be fun, they have a water park, dolphin excursions and all kinds of water sports. It may get a little crowded though with all the specials at this time of year. I know people really like Bermuda. What about a Beaches resort? What about those indoor water parks and hotel like Great Wolf Lodges. Montreal is supposed to be lovely. Honestly we haven’t gone away for over ten years. We have opted to stay home. Staycations have actually become a way of life for us. Its easier for us that way too. 🙂 Hope you have fun once you decide where to go.

  194. I loved Portland and the areas around it even more so. Lots of waterfalls, farms, quirky stops/finds and no crowds anywhere. If you want something a bit more historic, you can try Ireland. Don’t spend more than a day in Dublin and you won’t have to worry about crowds, and there is plenty to see/do.

  195. Why not rent a house in the Outer Banks? Let Hailey bring a few friends. You can go deep sea fishing, learn to surf – there are all kinds of things to do but best of all is getting to see and hear the ocean all day and night!

  196. DON’T GO TO YELLOWSTONE!!! (I mean I really, truly LOVE Yellowstone…but a work friend just got back yesterday and said it’s so crowded you have to wait in line to take a picture of a buffalo (and then, I guess, the buffalo will ask you for money…or something…I didn’t quite get that part.) However, on the plus side, if you want to go somewhere non-English speaking, Yellowstone would be your best bet.)

  197. Grand Canyon river rafting. Not the kind where you have to do all the work, though. We went with Western River Expeditions (westernriver.com). It’s a large, motorized raft (4mph) holding at most 14 people IIRC, with 3 distinct areas depending on your level of adventure – up front, where you get VERY wet and you have to hold on tight; on raised seats (containing the food and gear) that’s still facing forward, where you get splashed on the big rapids, and along the sides, the “chicken coop” where you rarely get splashed. We did the 6-day, which starts right below Lake Powell and is very cold water, and then helicoptered out. The 4-day starts there, being helicoptered in, and then you go downriver to Lake Mead. (They also do a 10-day which is these two trips back-to-back.) All food is provided, plus lemonade and water (bring your own Coke, Pepsi and/or alcohol), there are side hikes, and you can sleep right under the stars which was amazing (they do provide tents and cots).

    As fun as this is, this may not be an option if your anxiety requires you to have an “emergency exit”, because there is none. You will have to continue to the end. And I’m just now thinking they have a minimum age but I don’t know what it is because I can’t get to their website. But it was really awesome and I would go again in a minute.

  198. Head to New England. Have lobster on the Maine coast and take a boat ride to see lighthouses and whales. Drive to New Hampshire and check out the White Mountains (Mt. Washington Cog Railway, Clark’s Trading Post, Lost River). Then go to Vermont for some Ben and Jerry’s.

  199. Does the thought of a cruise freak you out? There are lots of people but it’s really easy to get away from them if you want. Cruising is by far the most relaxing vacation ever or you can be active the entire time.

  200. Ouray, Colorado. Best place ever. It’s best to avoid it during the 4th of July though, and maybe approach it from the north unless you like to be terrified while driving. There’s hot spring pools, lots of squirrels and chipmunks, touristy things to do nearby, big enough that Victor won’t feel completely isolated but small enough that you won’t feel like you’re in the middle of a metropolis. And it’s cooler in temp than Texas, so that’s a massive thing going for it. There’s even a train going from Durango to Silver Springs if you need something “exciting” to do for a day.

  201. Boston? Urban enough for Victor, but crowds aren’t too bad. Beach nearby. Salem not too far away. Lots to do and tons of history? We go to
    Nantucket but that’s just beach all day every day. You could do a day trip there though…..

  202. I’d say Scotland or NZ, but both are a bit far for 4-5 days. What about Vancouver, BC? There is everything from beaches to mountains. Kayaking, hiking, stand-up paddle-boarding. It’s not too crowded (especially by NYC standards) and Whistler/Squamish are an easy & beautiful drive away. There’s also festivals, food carts, outdoor movies in the park, and it’s never too hot.

  203. Winnipeg! Or at least our nearby beaches 🙂

    Though if you want to stay in the states, Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills are pretty cool. And Yellowstone is awesome (we’ll be driving through in August). Other than Old Faithful, there are hot springs, (and super hot springs that change colour as it gets deeper!), lots of hiking, and there are the teutons nearby if you are getting bored. And for Hailey, Craters of the Moon are only a few hours away. 🙂

  204. Yosemite. I was just there. There are a variety of different activities and tours and exploring at your own pace, plus camping is optional. There are some hotels and lodges, too.

  205. If you can fly (to make good use of few days) grand canyon or go to Yosemite before it’s really gone.

    Also, camping or even sudo (cabin) camping is awesome and 9 year olds love camping. Have you been tubing on the in Greun? There’s cabins available and it’s not far from shlitterbahn where you can also get cabins. This is all within 3 hours of you. It will all be crowded but, hey, you chose summer dear.

  206. Come up to Acadia National Park in Maine. We’ve got hiking, biking, boating, whale and puffin watching and so much more. Plus, our summertime temperatures are very pleasant, unless you really love hot weather, then not so much. But I may be biased since I live up here.

  207. I may be biased but Newfoundland is stunning! We took our kids to Gros Mourne National Park two summers ago and they are still talking about it. There are boat tours, hiking, the Tablelands are amazing, and the way this summer is shaping up probably a lot of icebergs. Also it’s nowhere near as crowded as somewhere like New York. If you do come to Newfoundland, I live in Lewisporte, drop by my cats would love to meet you!

  208. go to the san juan islands and ride bikes and kayak…..you can also visit seattle and vancouver…..that would be AWESOME!

  209. Rte1 up the Pacific from SD and head north……also Yellowstone….still gorgeous……

  210. BC Canada is superfun:)) Fly in to Vancouver. Or Seattle, you can do baseball, waterfront, hiking and museums in the city. Also, I live near Yosemite, and there really are some spectacular views this time of year. Stay at the Lodge. Hope this helps!! Love your book!

  211. Cape Cod in Mass 🙂 Wonderful New England charm and delicious lobstahh! My husband and I just took our honeymoon there and it was fabulous. Go on a whale watch tour, play at the beach, visit lighthouses, visit weird roadside shops, there’s even a mermaid themed shop in Mashpee.

  212. Come see me in Hawaii! I live at a retreat center called Kalani. You would love it. It’s beautiful, interesting and full of weirdos. Here is a link: http://www.kalani.com

    2 of you could get a discount as my guests. Message me on FB if interested. -Robyn Furse

  213. Durango, Colorado. Really cool small town. Lots of hiking/biking trails. The Durango Mountain Resort (formerly known as Purgatory Resort) is open in the summer and they have alpine slides – you take the ski lift up the mountain, get a sled like device, and go down the mountain on a half-pipe slide. So much fun! They also have the Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad that goes up to (you guessed it) Silverton. It’s a town that makes you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time – in a good way. And as you ride the train (3 hours), you can look out and see the old, original tracks and the remains of train wrecks. It’s delightfully morbid. There’s actually so much to do – totally check it out. It’s perfect to vacation there about 4-5 days.
    I grew up going there in the summers as a kid, and I loved it! This summer I’m actually taking my kids for the first time.

  214. Come to colorado!!!!! Glenwood springs (my home town) is kinda perfect and a great location to day trip out of.

  215. San Francisco!!!! Tons of stuff to do for a 9-year-old; amazing cocktails for grown-ups. You can drive up/down the coast (down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium) down to big, big redwoods. Plus my book group LOVED your book and we’d take you for dinner.

  216. Ireland – castles, men with Irish accents, horses, kids with Irish accents, sheep, beer, green grass, music, women with Irish accents, islands, monks houses, dogs with Irish accents (well not really, but they are still cute!), mountains, boat rides, and if you stay long enough YOU might end up with an Irish accent!

  217. Chicago. Museams, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, food, aquarium. Toms of cool stuff. Or Washington DC.

  218. Sanibel Island, Florida. Beaches littered with shells. Dolphins, cool birds, cruises for manatees. I love unwinding there.

  219. I live in Wyoming and there are so many cool places. Fort Laramie & the Oregon Trail Ruts are the neatest!

  220. Gatlinburg,TN!!
    There’s a bunch of Ripley’s Believe It or Not stuff to do (museums, big aquarium, mini golf, haunted house, etc) plus at the Aquarium you can have a “penguin experience” where you met penguins and then they walk through paint and on a canvas to make penguin feet art for you to take home.
    There’s a bunch of little shops to walk through downtown with tourist stuff and weird stuff.
    There’s a pancake restaurant on every block.
    Also, a place called Dick’s Last Resort which is a restaurant where they’re intentionally rude to you and it’s a lot of fun.
    Down the road are caverns to explore, parks, beautiful views.
    There’s also Dollywood a couple miles away in Pigeon Forge with Dixie Stampede Dinner Show,
    OR MY NEW FAVORITE:
    Lumberjack Feud Dinner Show where you eat and watch a cheesy show about lumberjack families but then they do actual lumberjack stuff on stage which was mad impressive surprisingly.
    Pigeon Forge also has a lot of other shows, shops, minigolf and a Titanic museum (why? I don’t know)
    Back in Gatlinburg there is year round ice skating and snow tubing. There are a few ski lifts and trams for cool views.
    There’s a neat minigolf place called Hillbilly Golf and it’s in the side of a mountain and you take a small lift up to the top and play golf on the way down back to the bottom.
    I highly recommend Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, it was way more exciting than I expected it to be and there’s a bunch of outdoorsy stuff to do that I can’t recall because I’m not really into that, but I hear the state parks are amazing and I can attest the views are beautiful!

  221. The Iceland recommendation was good, and Acadia National Park is pretty nice too (albeit a place where the activities overlap somewhat with the Alaska trip). I also have to recommend my home state of Michigan if you enjoy beer, although we also offer a healthy mix of interesting historical sites, incredible nature vistas, and blatant tourist traps.

  222. We took our girls to Yellowstone when they were around that age. After Yellowstone, we drove past Devil’s Tower on the way to a dude ranch where we took a mountain trail near Cody, WY. Then went to see Mt. Rushmore in SD. There are lots of caves and other touristy things in SD – our favorite was Bear Country USA, a drive-through zoo in the Black Hills in SD that is pretty cool (animals in the wild all around you) and the highlight at the end is an area where you can see the baby bears up close!

  223. I agree with Central CA. The Monterey Aquarium is fantastic, and just driving on PCH 1 is beautiful. Plus you can fly in and out of San Francisco, and there are tons of fun things to do there (visit the new Exploratorium http://www.exploratorium.edu/, go to Alcatraz, eat at yummy restaurants, etc). Added bonus — it’s much cooler there than summer in Texas!

  224. St Croix, Us Virgin Islands. It’s the red-headed step child of the virgin islands. Very few cruise ships. Low key but awesome diving/snorkeling, beaches, rainforest, crab races, and beer drinking pigs.

  225. Go camping at Lake Superior Provincial Park! You can borrow our camper! Or PEI is beautiful and LOTS to do.

  226. I get that you don’t like crowds. I don’t either. By far, hands down, the best vacation with kid was to lego land in San Diego. I mean, we did other stuff, too, and those were fun. But lego land has rides specifically geared towards kids who usually can’t ride rides at amusement parks, so they aren’t too scary. I strongly recommend taking some time off during the school year and go during the week, though, because that’s when the crowds are sparse. Literally zero wait at the rides. We would get off, run around and get right back on. AND they have a water park inside, too. I can’t remember if it costs additional, but it was a pretty good water park. And in San Diego, you can go to the ocean, natural parks, their zoo, the zoo’s safari park, which is better than he zoo, and requires going around in a golf car caravan, because it’s so spread out. It’s also better for people who are crowd averse, because you go in golf carts rather than wander freely.

  227. Northern Michigan. Seriously. White sand beaches (google Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore). World class restaurants at all price points. Hiking. Wineries. Breweries. Cideries. Paddleboarding. Kayaking. Lighthouses. Ferries to Manitou Island, where there is even more hiking. And best of all, while it’s a tourist area, the crowds are extremely minimal, especially in the small towns outside Traverse City.

  228. I lived in Western Colorado for 8 years, and I highly recommend a visit. Colorado National Monument, Grand Mesa, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the narrow-gauge railroad between Silverton and Durango. Duluth, Minn. is also nice, then swing east and visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Lots of gorgeous waterfalls, and you can tour a former copper mine in Hancock, Mich. There is an amazing mineral museum on the Michigan Tech campus.

  229. I think Nova Scotia is gorgeous. I also love Beaufort/Charleston/Hilton Head area. So historic and killer food. I wouldn’t do New Orleans with a 9 year old though.

  230. Easy answer, The Great Smokey Mountains/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg.

    More tricky trip…Turkey!

  231. Catalina Island, just off the coast of California. So much to do! They drive golf carts around the island, you can go snorkeling, take a million different tours…my favorite vacation of all time.

  232. National Parks — any National Park — as long as you don’t have to sleep in a tent and/or fight off bears. Dry Tortuga has absolutely nothing to do except sleep in a tent and go swimming, snorkeling and eating. I think you may have to go out on the mailboat from Key West. Caneel Bay (a national park) US Virgin Islands and you don’t have to have a passport. Course if I had my druthers, Italy and time. If you are downright crazy Okefenoke Park in south Georgia. It is too hot too mosquito-ey but really exciting.

  233. We just got back from a trip to the Adirondacks in upstate New York, near Vermont. It is beautiful and not too crowded. There is plenty to do up there, and you can also take the ferry across Lake Champlain to Vermont and do things there, too.

  234. Try San Diego; good climate, plenty of things to do, and a generally laid-back atmosphere.

  235. If not Toronto, where I am, then I would vote for upstate New York for sure – Lake Placid or Finger Lakes area. So many things to do and beautiful countryside. If you opt for Finger Lakes DO NOT MISS the Women’s Rights Museum – a National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. Completely amazing and Hailey will love it too! http://www.nps.gov/wori/index.htm

  236. Fly fishing on the Yellowstone River. Stay near Livingston, MT so you are near Yellowstone Park. Try the Yellow Stone River Lodge. Went there last year and had a great time.

  237. Come to the Maritimes! 😀 Definitely! You can visit three different Provinces in 4-5 days, but going to Prince Edward Island for 4-5 days would be perfection! Beautiful Beaches! Gorgeous scenery. Delicious food. Lots to see and do – and never crowded. There’s a reason it’s known as “The Gentle Island”.

  238. We go to Branson every year. We get a condo at the Village at Indian Point and either hang there or go to Silver Dollar City. Branson also has a Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum and a Butterfly Palace where you get to hang out with butterflies. The strip is crazy for traffic, but otherwise we love it there. There are lakes, places you can go horseback riding, and tons more.

  239. If Haley really wants to go to Jupiter take her to the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. You can do that on the way to Arcadia National Park in Maine. Then you can take the ferry from Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia.

  240. May I recommend Williamsburg, Virginia? If you like history, it’s a great place to visit.
    Also, you can put your children in the stocks in the town square ( and who wouldn’t like to do that?)

    Do it!!!

  241. Our family adores both cruising and Disney World, but they’re not for everyone. We’ve been to Bermuda a bunch of times and it is wonderful (clean beaches, aquarium/zoo, caves, helmet diving, glass bottom boats). The public transportation there is also quite easy. Myrtle Beach, SC is great fun. We went to a big aquarium, a water park, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede (pig races!), played mini golf at about 900 different places, and did some lovely lazing about. If you like even more kitsch than that, try Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. Besides the falls-related stuff like Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist, there are haunted houses (yes, plural), mirror mazes, oddity museums, mini golf, a Ferris wheel, street performers, magic shows, etc. Toronto is close enough to do as a day trip, too. This summer we are going to Lancaster, PA. We plan to hit Hershey Park and the Chocolate World, ride a steam train and go to the train museum, go to some Amish craft markets, and generally eat our way through Pennsylvania Dutch country.

  242. Northern California, esp. the Bay Area. Nice mix of nature, history, San Francisco. and the Ce trial Coast with Santa Cruz/ Monterey is nearby. And I second taking Hwy 1 down the coast

  243. Williamsburg, VA (also close by is Yorktown and Jamestown) it has a ton of historical stuff and if you get bored with that then you can go to Busch Gardens!! Or you can venture a little north and do Washington DC, the Smithsonian museums are so much fun and Kings Dominion isn’t too far from there. OR Shenandoah valley has the Luray caverns and Natural bridge which are also fun. The fudge at Luray Caverns can not be beat. Virginia Beach is also close if you are into that sort of thing. Personally I don’t like sand in my cracks, but I guess some people do? All of this is a few hours drive if you wanted to come to the east coast.

  244. Yellowstone is a gong show in summer. My husband lost his mind on the highway just driving past it…so maybe no. But Manitoba is lovely at this time of year – we’d love to have you back 🙂

  245. I had a similar dilemma. The hubs and I decided on a road trip to Nashville. Big city feel without the craziness of New York. It’s a cool town, great music, and they have a ton of museums/tourist stuff to keep us occupied.

  246. Inverness on Loch Ness in Scotland. Less crowded, I understand, than the Fort Augustus end of the lake, but a cute little town. Beautiful to walk around with lots of little gems to entertain. You can catch bus tours of the highlands from the town center. We took a daylong bus tour to the Isle of Skye, which is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. You can even take the overnight train to Edinburgh, if you want. Plus they have fluffy little cows and the LOCH NESS MONSTER.

    I love New York City and have lived here for 14 years, but it is super-stressful and crowded. And stinky in the summer.

  247. Sedona is nice. And Jerome is nearby. It’s a “ghost town”. Mostly it’s a lot of walking up strap hills for good food. You can do jeep tours, or vortex tours, or balloon rides, and you can go up to the Grand Canyon. There’s a meator crater nearby as well. And some Indian ruins. And sedonas not hot like in Phoenix. Though you do have to drive up two hours from the Phoenix airport. Let me know if you come by! I’ll show you around! Hehe.

  248. Newfoundland Canada. A lot like Alaska, but with much friendlier people. There are many local customs to explore and gorgeous landscape. I can’t wait to go back

  249. MT girl here – we try to make it to Yellowstone as often as possible, but avoid it during peak summer. Number one, it’s hot as hell. Number two, there are lots of humans. Number three, you’ve already missed the best time for wildlife watching.

    If you want to hit Yellowstone I highly recommend waiting until next year and hit it up in late May/early June. All the animals are having their babies (adorbs) and it’s a relatively slow time for tourists. You can stay at any of the lodges in Yellowstone, but some are definitely better than others. Bring your own cooler with sandwich fixings and snacks because the lodge cafeterias suck. (They will make you feel like you’re back in your junior high cafeteria.) You can venture out of the park into Gardiner (north entrance) or Cooke City (east entrance) for real life human food, but keep in mind you’ll have to pay to get back into the park. Both are AWESOME small towns full of charm, character, gift shops and decent food.

    What I love about Yellowstone is it can be as tame or as wild as you want to make it. If you choose the latter, bring a good pair of binoculars, bear protection (bear spray and noise makers), and quality boots. Don’t need much else.

  250. If you want to go to Yellowstone you need to plan in advance, like years. Yosemite not as bad a wait, plus there are all the activities in N. California like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Napa(for the parents) SF Exploratorium and Natural Science Museum(for everybody, Muir Woods etc.

    You can watch Hitchcock’s Vertigo and try and locate all the shots in SF as a game.

    For a day trip – Schlitterbahn

  251. I saw someone mentioned Roatan, Honduras. I have to put a vote in for that. Particularly Anthony’s Key Resort http://www.anthonyskey.com/ My Husband and I spent some time there on a cruise last year and it’s one of my favorite places on earth.
    Hawaii is also a good option. You might want to avoid Honolulu if crowds are an issue. Maui is lovely though.
    Vancouver Canada is also a good call. LOTS to do and the weather is great if you come during the summer. It’s my hometown though, so I’m a little biased.

  252. My votes are always for the British Virgin Islands (BVI), specifically Jost Van Dyke, Anegada, and Tortola, in that order. The best vacation EVER was renting a crewed catamaran and island hopping around the BVI. http://www.moorings.com

    Or, we are getting ready to go to an All-Inclusive in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I also like the idea of Hawaii (The Big Island) or Roatan, Honduras like someone else mentioned.

  253. I’m too lazy to see if it has already been suggested, but http://www.assateagueisland.com/ is nice for kids. Tours, nature, wild ponies, and mosquitoes large enough to stand flat-footed and f*ck a turkey. Plus, Chincoteague Island (where you stay), Ocean City, and crabs. Let me know if you find my mom’s watch she lost in 1978.

  254. Sedona is nice. And Jerome is nearby as well. So Is the Grand Canyon. There’s a meteor crater nearby and lots of old ruins. You can do jeep yours, balloon rides, out of Africa wildlife park, vortex tours. It’s not as hot as Phoenix, and the sights are amazing. Let me know if you come out bill show you around! Hehe.

  255. Montego Bay, Jamaica
    You can climb up a waterfall (guided tour), swim up to the bar in the pool and order Mai Tais or Shirley Temples and sit on the bar stools beneath the water, go into the local village nearby to chat with the locals and purchase beautiful art at the market, get your hair braided into cornrows (and c’mon, you know your whole family would look cute with matching corn rows), and there are activities at the resort there that are for both kids and adults and separate.
    Also, it’s just gorgeous.

  256. Merida, Mexico (colonial capitol of Yucatan). Laid back, not crowded, beautiful city, public art, close to Yucutan tourist attractions without being inundated by tourists.

    San Francisco. Because San Francisco. And wine country.

  257. Monterey Bay area is absolutely fabulous. You can walk the boardwalk, walk to the aquarium at Pacific Grove. Have lunch in Carmel and go to the beach. Go see the red woods. Shop the vintage stores. Really fun family vacation

  258. My favorite place to travel is Zion National Park. I prefer to go there in spring or fall, because it’s VERY sunny and hot this time of year, but being from Texas, I’m guessing heat doesn’t destroy you the way it does me. 🙂 It might be more of a quiet nature-spot than you’re looking for; not much in the way of action, but I’m sure there are tours and activities. It’s just stunningly beautiful, really like nothing else. There’s a free shuttle bus that runs every few minutes and goes all through town and the park. Lots of short, fun hikes (and longer ones with glorious views). It’s hard to take a bad photo there– whatever you point your camera at will be beautiful. The town that feeds into it (Springdale, UT) is sort of an artsy community, with fun little shops and galleries, AND– this is what makes me think of you– you can stay at a cabin-style motel that has its own elk herd. 🙂

  259. I went to Yellowstone when I was almost 8, my brother was 13. We drove, and I drank all the Kool-aid bursts, then when we got there I threw up all night. The rangers came to check on us, since we were camping, to warn us about the bears. We also went to a really awesome melodrama in Jackson Hole, and rafting down the Colorado River. It was awesome.

    If that’s not what you’re looking for, my family also did a trip down the coast of Oregon. We camped there, too. We saw ships stuck in water, went to Lewis and Clark’s camp, saw the redwoods, and had a blast.

  260. If you do decide to do New York City, try just coming to Brooklyn…with maybe one jaunt into Manhattan to go to Obscura Antiques to see the weird stuff they have. Brooklyn actually has normal nice hotels now, and there are always events at the Barclays center if you want something mainstream to entertain you. We also have amazing food, a great flea market on weekends, an incredible art museum, botanical gardens, a zoo, several great park spaces, Coney Island, and the morbid anatomy museum. But when I take a vacation from Brooklyn, I like to go to the North Woods of Michigan on the banks of the AuSable river. Fly fishing, beautiful wilderness, and the nearby small town of grayling for provisions and mild entertainment. I truly love that place…and it’s dirt cheap too! Gates Au Sable Lodge has comfortable river side rooms for well under $100 a night.

  261. I LOVED Seattle. It’s not as crowded as most big cities, but has tons to do. Hiking at Mt Rainier, tours, Pikes Market, the Space Needle, zoo, science center, aquarium, whale watching tours, Ride the Ducks…..so, yeah, I loved it.

    I would move there if I could.

  262. Branson, MO is a good vacation spot. Shows, shopping, Silver Dollar City, go-carts, mini-golf, Butterfly House, Bird show, the lakes are nearby for cruising/fishing, Mansfield MO (Laura Kngalls Wilder) isn’t too far away. Lots to do.

  263. We never go anywhere, so I can’t help you. Best solo trip I ever took was to visit friends in Australia. Australia Zoo, the Opera House, whale watching…if you have the time, definitely visit.

  264. OOH, and the person who mentioned the islands off the coast of Washington had a great point– my OTHER favorite place is Victoria, (Vancouver island) British Columbia! Just the ferry trip from Seattle is awesome in itself– we saw a humpback whale and sea otters when we went. There would be lots of family-oriented activities there– whale-watching tours (we saw pods of orcas!) and Butchart Gardens, for example.

  265. Nova Scotia is lovely. Lots of nature, whale watching, moose, historical stuff, wineries. We usually go at the end of their tourist season but I’ve heard that they also have a lot of musical festivals in the summer.

    Northern Michigan/Traverse City area is pretty similar on paper. Fewer moose.

  266. Route 1 in California is amazing. The redwood are gorgeous and you cans top off by the giant sequoias and the road opens up into the ocean from miles of wooded mountains. It’s breathtaking, and there are a bunch of gold towns and caves to visit.

  267. Someone earlier in the comments recommended Santa Fe…I live in Albuquerque, and I would suggest New Mexico too. Here in ABQ, you can hike, bike, ride the world’s longest aerial tram, go see the locations for Breaking Bad around town, there’s the Rattlesnake Museum, a nice zoo, Explora museum (a hands-on science museum aimed at kids), and we have the most live theatre of any city this size in the country. There’s great food too! And it’s about an hour’s drive north to Santa Fe, another couple hours north to Taos…there are volcanos and mineral springs and the Georgia O’Keefe museum and horse riding and lots of great local beer…really there’s a lot! It’s a great place to visit, truly.

  268. My favorite family vacation is always my most recent family vacation.

    Last summer we rented a house boat for a week. We all had a blast. There was a hot tub on the top deck that was horribly romantic. There was a slide on the back that the kids had a blast with. Every day we would drive to a different part of the lake and explore. There were hiking trails and parks and other fun stuff. The guys did a lot of fishing. They didn’t catch anything but that didn’t seem to matter. The awesome thing is that you can pull the house boat up anywhere you want, tie it to some trees, and go exploring.

  269. We did Park City, Utah last summer, and I LOVED it. It’s most known as a ski resort town and host to the Sundance Film Festival, but in the summer it’s the off season. We rented a condo and didn’t have a car. It’s an hour from Salt Lake City by bus, and the Park City public transit is great and free. We did lots of hiking — some of the ski hills run their lifts, and you can ride up the hill and hike/mountain bike down — and one rafting trip, some lazing around getting a massage (me) and going to the movies, and LOTS of really good eating. All the good restaurants are running amazing specials because it’s off-season. Highly recommend.

  270. I had a really good time in Chicago last year. Fabulous food. Tons of museums of all kinds. The lake right there. Theater. And it’s easy to get around on the trains.

  271. Philadelphia.
    The Mutter Museum- medical oddities, antique medical equipment. It’s nothing short of amazing.
    Penn Museum
    Franklin Square
    An aquarium that has hippos!
    You can run the Rocky steps.
    All sorts of historical type stuff too, if that’s what you’re interested in. Valley Forge, The Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin stuff.
    Cheesesteaks

  272. I went to Iceland last year. Freakin’ awesome. Or go to Yosemite and Mono Lake in California. My faves. Yellowstone is kinda crowded in the summertime.

  273. Yellowstone is not boring, and Montana is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I don’t think you need to plan years in advance to go to Yellowstone, unless maybe you are trying to stay at hotels inside the park. I lived in Bozeman for many years, and we would just wake up and decided to go to Yellowstone, and go. You can definitely skip Old Faithful–it is one of the only really crowded places in the park, and is no longer very “faithful,” meaning you can wait a long time and nothing actually happens. If you decide to do Yellowstone, you should try to plan to be in Bozeman for the Sweet Pea Festival, the first weekend in August: http://sweetpeafestival.org/. There are lots of people there, but it is outside and easy to get in and out of the park if the crowds start to feel like too much. As far as festivals go, it is pretty small. But tons of awesome crafts, great music, and Montana Shakespeare in the Parks which I miss SO much.

  274. We’re going to Yellowstone / Montana this year. Looks awesome. Btw, we LOVE LOVE LOVED Alaska AND Brazil.

  275. Ooh. Another fun trip was Branson MO. It can be a bit busy this time of year but there’s tons to do including Silver Dollar City, Ripleys Believe It or Not museum (one of my family’s faves!!), and lots of shows. We went in the fall and the crowds were considerably smaller though SDC was closed by then.

  276. Cardiff, UK! You can see Doctor Who being filmed, visit the big exhibit there & geek out. Plus, it’s this beautiful little seaside city, with a relatively calm yet bustling area on the water (Mermaid Quay), a castle with parts that date back the Romans, water taxis, tours, train rides, etc, plus everyone is British & lovely. We went twice.

  277. Love Costa Rica Arenal volcano area. Lots of activities, beautiful landscapes, not a long flight for you either.

  278. You could camp at Yosemite. It was amazing when I went (not boring at all!) and you could always check San Francisco later if he wants a city. Lots of history and fun 🙂

  279. Victoria, BC. We went to Seattle a few years back and up to Victoria on the clipper (a boat– http://www.clippervacations.com/victoria-packages/seattle-victoria-overnight/?gclid=CMGfn_axhL8CFdFafgodv3AAHA) and it was a great time. No car, walked or bused everywhere…. at least 4-5 days worth of stuff to do with a 12 year old.

    Also, I get super seasick and they sell magic pills for $0.25 on the clipper that keep you from getting sick (by making you sleep). So if that’s an issue, don’t let it be because they got you covered. We had smooth sailing on the way home, so my husband and I just enjoyed wine, cheese, and snacks while the stepdaughter caught up on all the important texts she missed while out of the country. Great trip.

  280. Well I think you should all sit around as a family and read these comments – that will probably take all summer. But seriously – if you want to head out west what about some actual ghost towns? Kind of spooky and in not very crowded locals – also near-ish to major parks like Yellowstone and you can swing out towards Bay area and do lots of exploring on the outskirts – Monterey, Carmel and Mendocino are all pretty and have lots of activities (and more ghost tours OR Winchester Mystery House in San Jose – very cool.)

  281. Visit Australia again, this time tour the Top End. It’s the dry season and the best time of year for visitors. If you come soon, you’ll be able to do some good barramundi fishing too.

  282. Branson Missouri. It is the family friendly Vegas, with tons of shows, zip lines, shopping malls, mini golf, restaraunts, the Titanic Museum AND it has fireflys. It may have more people than you like (I’m not sure if they have a tourist season), but my kids loved it and you can drink the water:)

  283. Not the best place I have ever been but a place I would like to go. Utah. Breathtakingly beautiful and I want to visit the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. You might like it too. They have cats.

  284. Iceland or Norway. I have been to both and would go back in a heartbeat. And I would be your trip planner so I could live vicariously through your travel adventures.

  285. Northwest Arkansas! We have Crystal Bridges Museum and hiking and bike trails and a Walmart museum. Yep, Walmart has a museum. Plus, (I know! All that and a plus), we’re not far from Devil’s Den and caves AND you can look for diamonds somewhere around here (there’s always someone on the news that’s found a diamond worth 10s of dollars). Plus (more plus), Eureka Springs is close by (like Goldie suggested) – it’s a quirky little town that’s awesome with a big haunted hotel and a giant neon sign that looks like a penis. AND the Buffalo River is close – it’s beautiful – Whitaker’s Point is amazing. OH and there are a lot of lakes. We live on one and you’re welcome to play on it and kayak and paddle boat. Wow. I should be on the tourism board or something.

  286. Also, if you’re not into crowds, might I suggest North Dakota? I know, I know – but hear me out! Medora is actually really cool in the summer; Teddy Roosevelt National Park has some great hiking/biking trails, and there’s guided trail rides, some interesting shopping & museums, and of course the Medora Musical! It might not be everyone’s dream vacation, but it’s a pretty special place.

  287. We are going to Yellowstone in July. This will probably be my 4th or 5th trip there…and I don’t think it’s not boring. There are tons of animals there that you can see from a car. (They generally don’t beat up your car like in the State Farm commercial.) Then again…it’s not exactly fending off vultures with a machete. (It’s all perspective, as you know.) Then there is Southern Utah with all the parks. (It’s not as hot as Texas or as crowded as some places.) Glacier National Park in Montana sounds like a good place to beat the heat as well.

  288. Montreal, Canada is really cool. They have an amazing botanical garden, inset museum and biodome. I am also a huge fan of key west fl. Water sports, art and amazing blue water. Have fun!

  289. I live in south Louisiana. You can come here and hang with gators, fish, go on swamp tours. The culture is fun and our food is amazing. I suggest it.

  290. Seattle is great. Space Needle, Underground City Tour, Experience Music Project, Waterfront Ferris Wheel, Pike Place Market, Amazing Woodland Park Zoo, lots of green space and open water, great food and genuinely quirky places like Archie McPhee, Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co., and the Fremont Troll (who lives under a bridge, really).

  291. Hall of Fame Tour (Hockey in Toronto; stop in Niagra; Baseball in Cooperstown, NY; stop in Hershey, PA; Football in Canton, OH; and finally, Rock and Roll in Cleveland.) Driving fun in two countries.

  292. Vancouver, BC. Tons of food/drink/art/history/walking/exploring in the city, and lots of nature/wildlife/adventure opportunities just outside. Plus it’s perfect weather in comparison to the sweltering heat and humidity prevalent across most of the US during the summer.

  293. I recommend the US Virgin Islands. No passport needed and it’s beautiful! There are all kinds of activities, historical places, and many different beaches. The resort we stayed at was all inclusive and that was wonderful.

  294. Long Beach Island, New Jersey! It’s old time so the beaches aren’t crowded and there are no major food chains or grocery stores. The beach is super clean. They have rides and stuff on one end and on the other is a light house, which you can climb and get an amazing view! It’s my favorite place in the whole world. Well, in the US anyway lol. There’s a private beach just past the light house where the water is sand bar low and always warm. You can wade pretty far out and still stay only knee deep.There’s a jetty near the light house where I’ve found tons of crabs and once a bright blue an red starfish! I got to hold it and transfer it down to a place where it could get washed back to safety. You can also get hermit crabs if you get up early enough to beach comb (dawn, ugh I know lol). If you want to go to the private beach you’ll have to ask for the directions cuz it’s a secret and I don’t give it up to just anyone! The have the best breakfast place (Chicken or the Egg) as well.. You can google LBI, NJ and get a beach cam view. I just love it.

  295. Rockford, IL..we have the only handicap accesible house built by Frank Lloyd Wright..Anderson Japanese Gardens..Discovery Center for kids..and about an hour and some from Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee..

  296. I have two recommendations, and one might be on the creepy side. Okay, it really IS on the creepy side.

    First, here’s the non-creep suggestion – Savannah, Georgia. My husband and I got married there on Leap Day 2012. It’s a really fun city! There’s tons of tours, including Ghost Tours where a little paranormal is mixed with history. There’s trolley tours, walking tours, boat tours and whatnot. You can also visit where Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil was filmed (Mercer House), but that was kinda boring because you want them to talk about Jim Williams killing Danny Hansford, but they don’t mention that AT.ALL! Sad, really. There’s also the Bonaventure Cemetery that people visit as a tourist attraction. You’d think all of that makes this the creepy suggestion, but just wait! After our wedding, several people started asking for suggestions on what to do and where to eat in Savannah, so I just created a page to answer a lot of those questions. Here it is!

    And now for the creepy suggestion – Nashville, Tennessee! It’s creepy because I am offering for you, Victor and Hailey to stay with us or dine with us, whichever sounds your flavor of creep. We have references! We have friends and relatives staying with us all the time that we have coined our home The Overstreet Bed and Breakfast or Chateau Alamo (I will explain the Alamo reference if you visit). We have two spare rooms, so there’s plenty of space for you. AND we are getting a new incredibly efficient HVAC system installed TODAY, so the house will be super comfortable by the time you visited. We’ll give you a secret code to the door, so you could come and go as you please. I have also blogged about what to see and do in Nashville that doesn’t involve Country Music here, but don’t judge me for never finishing all 31 Days of Nashville posts. It’s still a great place to visit even if I have less than 31 suggestions.

    I am totally serious. We’re probably your kind of crazy. Probably. Email me if you are interested or have any questions about either suggestion.

  297. We did San Diego last summer and had a blast. We rented a house on Mission Beach, so it was enjoyable just to wake up and go to sleep to the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean. The rental included a couple cruisers, so we were able to bike around the area — including the amusement park nearby. The zoo is awesome, SeaWorld is worth a visit, the museum campus includes great architecture, you’re surrounded by natural beauty and there are multitudes of freaky people lurking about. It’s all pretty affordable, too.

  298. Go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Lots to do (Kitty Hawk, plenty of historical sights and forts, Blackbeards old house in Beaufort NC, and great aquariums) and great beaches for relaxing. Plus you can take a mini day trip and drive to Williamsburg VA.

  299. Amalah seemed to really like bluefields (I think that’s the name). I’d go if I could!

  300. Yellowstone, all the way! It’s like visiting another planet, what with all of the geysers and hot springs, so Hailey will be happy. Or go to the Badlands, which have the added benefit of you being able to say you went to the Badlands (but be aware that Wall Drug’s ice water is a sore disappointment. It isn’t icy AT ALL.)

  301. I agree with some of the other comments about the Pacific Northwest. It is a great break from the summer heat of Texas. The temperatures are still pretty good though – typically in the 70s. Seattle; Mt. Rainier or the Olympic rain forest if you want outdoors; Portland. The Oregon Coast is also great.

    If you’re feeling international, hop across the border to Canada. Both Victoria and Vancouver have fun stuff to do. Crossing the border can be a wait though, so it’s something to consider.

  302. My two cents-Portland, Oregon really is fun. It is a pretty city, lots of hiking opportunity, some fun tours (I suggest the underground tour for sure), a few hours from the beach if you want to go for the day, an hour from the mountain for camping…also the biggest book store you will ever see.

    I can also recommend northern Virginia. It is gorgeous, although hot and humid…but you can check out part of the Appalachian Trail, hike through caverns, play on the Shenandoah, visit Washington DC. And wineries, lots and lots of those here. Also, you can come visit me in MY bookstore. Just a thought… 🙂

  303. Prince Edward Island, Canada. That’s where the Anne of Green Gables museum is along with tons of other fun things to do.

  304. Back in 2005 we took a tour of Texas. We picked cities/towns to go to/drive through and looked up cool things to do in those places. Why not pick a state and explore it?

  305. Sanibel Island, off the coast of Fort Meyer FL. Dolphins swam right up to us every day while playing in the surf. We took a kayak out on a nature preserve and saw several Manatees and Dolphins, and Crabs up close. TONS of shells to find on the beaches. Bike ride around the island. We also took an evening sightseeing cruise around the nature preserve and saw countless marine birds, manatees, dolphins and one alligator! Most spectacular thing is there were no crowds and it was a quiet relaxing, but fun time.

  306. I went on a cruise once to the virgin islands. Saw Antigua, St. Thomas, and Tortola. Didn’t go on very many excursions but still did a lot! Pretty beaches and lots of interesting island tours. Went snorkeling and there were a lot of markets for shopping. There was also tons to do on the ship.

  307. I took my son to Pigeon Forge (and Dollywood) when he was about nine – he claims that was the best vacation EVER; particularly the family-friendly comedy show (“Mom, I’m laughing so hard I think I’m gonna throw up!!).

    Unfortunately, it’s pretty crowded.

  308. Galapagos was my favorite place ever. We got to snorkel with penguins and iguanas and everything you looked at was beautiful.

  309. Best family vacation in the US was D.C. We drove up from Atlanta and stopped at Williamsburg and also the Maritime Museum in Norfolk. We also hit Asheville North Carolina, all great fun for families with kids. Chicago is a blast also if you want city, museums, the lake, beach, etc. We also had a great time on Amelia Island. My kids did not like Savannah, but I loved it! Have FUN!

  310. I would also tell you Colorado for all of the previously listed reasons, but mainly because I’d love to see you blog about a trip to the place where I live. I’m sure nobody else wrote their suggestion that way, though, so it should be fine! You could also be Teaching Mom and choose something significant to Hailey’s curriculum next year – visiting Washington, D.C. or Jamestown or Boston. You could piggy-back a cruise to the Bahamas on one of those East Coast things if you can stand to be on a ship.

  311. Colonial Williamsburg/Jamestown, and you can hit Busch Gardens while you’re there. Fun AND educational. And ladies in old fashioned clothes.

  312. Asheville, NC. Zipline at Navitat, raft on the Nantahala, slide down Sliding Rock, take spectacular hikes around Mount Mitchell, eat lots of delicious food, drink lots of craft beer, shop at the Antiques Tobacco Barn, frolick downtown, it’s all there. The Obamas love it. Why wouldn’t you?

  313. New Zealand! Can’t beat it, it’s spendy to get there, but it’s SO COOL. And 5 days is PERFECT.

  314. The Bravo Coast in Spain. I spent 10 days in Lloret de Mar during spring of 1988 and it was awesome. I don’t know how crowded it would be in the summer though.

  315. Las Vegas, Baby. Avoid the casinos of course, but take in some great shows, see the Hoover Damn, the Valley of Fire, Oatman, AZ (an old mining town that has some great tourist things to do) Drive down to Laughlin and take a river taxi on the Colorado River, see Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and all kinds of nifty things.

  316. I think you should come visit the Shoals in Alabama. The end of July is a week long music festival (W.C.Handy Music Festival, if you wanna look it up) all over town. Yes, there are some crowds, but it’s easy to hang at the edge without missing anything. And most of the events are free. Our if you don’t like music festivals, there’s all sort of water activities alk the time, Helen Keller’s birthplace and museum, and lots of local restaurants that are awesome!

  317. Savannah is a fun destination, lots of history there and carriage and trolly rides around town.
    Yellowstone is fun if you’re up for hiking and stopping every time you see anything move in the woods to get a picture of ALL THE ANIMALS!! It’s a thing there. We did Yellowstone over 4 days by visiting a different section of the park each day, the altitude means you get winded easier being a below-sea-level-Texas (as am I). This means you do the park in the am and then visit the town you’re staying in that evening. BOOK NOW because it fills up. You can also drive to Jackson Hole, WY which is just as pretty and fun to hang out in. Antlers EVERYWHERE. There are places to fish and swim in Yellowstone and there are prettier and less crowded erupting geysers than Old Faithful. Also there is a viewing deck to watch Old do her thing and it’s less crowded. They also have guided tours in antique buses, steaming mud pots, the prettiest vats of death you’ll ever see, and some of the smelliest places on earth.

  318. you can rent a house on Cape Cod, walk to the beach (that would be a private beach so it’s not too crowded), rent bikes, etc…. then zip up to Boston for a couple days, there is a hotel right next to the aquarium where we stayed so that a LOT of things are in walking distance and we did not use our car at all. A good mix of hanging out and city stuff.

  319. Maybe Hailey meant Jupiter, Florida, which used to be the winter home of carnies and circus folk. Which sounds like your kind of town. 😉 If I had to pick for you, I’d say a dude ranch. Not too many people, lots of animals and wide open spaces.

  320. Hawaii, stay at one of the out of the way resorts and book the adventure tours to the site.

  321. Update I FB-ed you links to my Yellowstone and Jackson Hole trip so you can see some of what there is to do around there.