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any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

febe3
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any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

Hi, didn't know which forum to put this in really, we wd like to visit America next year, its a bit of amilestone year for us and wd like to mark it suitabley. Rather than do the Disney theme park thing (tho cd fit in a day if pressed by my youngest!) are looking at New England or visiting the Grand Canyon, or Niagra Falls, or whale watching, the Rockies etc and other stunning sights. The alternative is to go to a place the kids have heardd of..Miami, the Keys etc (not New York...too shopping orientated?..unless for a day or so )

We are 2 adults and 3 kids.age 17,15 and 10, all of whom like the natural world, stunning scenery, both active and relacing holidays (ie@not hiking/canoeing every day, but some days!) Can anyone suggest places..and I don't want to camp altho can stand a few nights of it! We tend to go (quality!)self catering, mainly cos of cost with 3 kids. I know it's a HUGE thing to ask but I don't know where to start either!

Carolina
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1. Re: any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

Let me start off by saying that I'm not as well traveled as I'm sure many others are that can probably offer better insight. That said, here's my thoughts.

Out of the places that I've been to in the U.S., my vote would be for Yellowstone National Park. It has easily left the most indelible memories I have. It's like being on another planet. There's a wide variety of things that the earth is doing there. The planet itself almost seems alive. Morning Glory pool is beautiful in its color. It makes you wonder how it came to be. Several places smell like sulfur (rotten eggs), which might not seem like the most pleasing smell, but I didn't find it unpleasant at the time. It probably helped etch the memory of the place in my mind more vividly. There's a wide variety of formations in the park. There's places where things seem to be bubbling constantly. There's other places where nothing happens for a long time, then WOW! There's places with wooden walkways to walk out over the activity. All sorts of stuff. I imagine there's probably wildlife and things like that to see, but that's not what you'll remember about the place. I remember being slightly unimpressed with Old Faithful, but looking at pictures of it on the internet now, I can't imagine how that was the case. Just goes to show how cool this place is if all the other things are so cool that they make Old Faithful seem not as interesting. I don't know if they're still there, but when my family went when I was a child we stayed in these cabins that only had a pot bellied stove in the middle of the room for heating at night. The little firelog things that you put in there never kept burning until the morning and you were quite cold about 2/3rds through the night until someone crawled out of bed to throw another log in. That was during the warmer months too. Yellowstone has a very small window during the year when the temperatures make it a decent visit. I imagine accomodations fill up well in advance due to this fact.

Comments on other places:

The only city I've been to on the west coast was Los Angeles. This is an interesting place. The ocean has several famous beaches. It's pretty cool how mountainous features rise right out of the ocean in places. Rodeo Drive is pretty cool to stroll down. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is neat. You can see Grauman's Chinese Theatre there and get super cheap t-shirts from vendors along the street. You can see the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean during the evening. Allow for traffic when trying to get to the ocean to see the sun set or you'll miss it. Trying to get a closer look at the famous HOLLYWOOD sign, we drove on some of the twistiest roads I've ever been on in the mountains below. With each turn, I kept thinking the road was going to end in someone's driveway and I'd have to turn around. You could never see far at all. Probably best to just view the sign at a distance. LOL

I haven't been to the New England area or to the Grand Canyon and was too young to remember Niagara Falls, so I can't give comments on those. On the east coast though, there's only a few places I would travel over seas to visit. One is Disney World's Magic Kingdom. There is something truly inspirational about seeing Cinderella's castle, especially for the first time. Don't miss the night time parade or the fireworks. Get to the parade route early-ish for good viewing. If you're already there for one park and have never been to Disney, I think you'd want to check out all the parks which would take 4 or 5 days minimum to do it right. (There's four Disney Parks.) There's also other parks in the area like Seaworld and Universal Studios. If you've never been to something like Seaworld before, I highly recommend it. Get to the Shamu show extra early. Lower seats WILL absolutely get you soaked from the animals splashing you. Whatever you do, don't miss the Blue Horizons show there. It's spectacular.

The other place on the east coast that I would fly over seas to visit is Washington DC. There's so much history there, and the buildings are all really cool to look at. Flip over a penny (U.S. smallest denomination coin) and compare the Lincoln memorial on the back with the real thing. Note the tiny statue of Lincoln on the penny, then go stand by the tall and imposing real statue. Strolling around all the important landmarks in the city is very very cool. You can also see all the different Smithsonian museums for free. What a terrific way to see some of the most interesting things in U.S. history! You can see the original 1903 Wright Brothers plane, the one that made the history books. The Mercury "Friendship 7" spacecraft in which astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth is displayed there. You can see Spaceship One, the first privately funded craft in history to complete human spaceflight, and winner of the famous Ansari X PRIZE. And those are just in the Air and Space Museum. You can see the Hope diamond, the world's largest deep blue diamond, which is 45.52 carats in the Natural History Museum. Umm, they have 15 museums and galleries, including the National Zoo, so I think I'll cut the description short here. :) You could probably go over to the Washington DC part of Tripadvisor to find out how long it would take to visit different things in DC, if you're interested. We've always just gone for quick weekend trips from some of my nearby in-laws.

The only other thing that's really cool between Disney and DC is the Biltmore estate in Asheville NC, which is really awesome at Christmas when it's decorated. However, the lack of other things to see in the area and the fact that the Biltmore estate is a one day visit probably don't warrant a long drive or extra plane trip for someone wanting to hit the highlights in the United States.

Carolina
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2. Re: any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

Let me stress that I'm not that well traveled. My parents have really enjoyed places like Alaska and Hawaii that I've never been to, plus I haven't seen a lot of places out west.

Denver, Colorado
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3. Re: any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

If it's natural beauty that you are seeking then my vote will be for heading west to see the Rockies, The Grand Canyon etc.

I have never been to Yellowstone but depending on how long you will be here, then you can visit several places. I live in Colorado now and you will not be dissapointed. I have also been to the Grand Canyon and honestly, photos don't do it justice- it is an amazing place.

In Colorado you must definitely visit Rocky Mountain National Park.

You could stay in Estes Park. You could also visit the Summit county area and stay in places like Keystone or Breckenridge.

In Estes look at the Estes Park Center at the YMCA- www.ymcarockies.org

There are so many lodging options in the Colorado area- it just depends on what area you will stay in. If the kids like the outdoors, they will like the West.

If you decide to go south to Florida, then I would recommend the Keys . I do like Miami but the Keys are unique- laid back atmosphere.

Have fun planning!

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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4. Re: any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

The western National Parks would all be a great places to visit. You may want to consider renting an RV. That way you can have your home with you! I would look at official state websites for states you may be interested in visiting. You can then see what is available lodging and activitywise. Keep asking questions and visit the different state forums here on TA.

1. Tetons, Yellowstone and possibly up to Glacier would be an incredible summer trip.

2 Colorado would also be a great visit. Denver has some fun things to do. Rocky Mountain Nat Park is beautiful. There are many resorts in the mountains that you can rent condos and enjoy the outdoors. The SW corner of Colorado is wonderful. Durango has rafting, hiking, plus the high mountains. There is a great train ride to Silverton. Mesa Verde National Park is closeby.

3. Grand Canyon, Sedona, Zion, Bryce, Arches another incredible trip

4. California National Parks, Sequoia, Yosemite, plus San Francisco, Monterey, Los Angeles and Disneyland.

5. Washington and Oregon and British Columbia in Canada.

evergreen, colorado
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5. Re: any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

If you come to Colorado the best, IMHO, like suggested above, would be Estes Park/ Rocky Mountain National Park for a great family spot where you get the full Rocky Mountain experience.

If you want to go to Florida, I am like you and avoid the Disney thing even though we have 4 kids. This June we went to a place in Florida called Captiva Island (about a 50 minute drive from Ft. Myers airport) and fell head over heels in love with this place. It's tropical and islandy, lush, laid back, very family friendly with GORGEOUS beaches! It's on the Gulf side so the water is warm and gentle. The shelling is fantastic. The kids can parasail, rent sea kayaks, bicycling, you name it. Or you can watch the sun set over the Gulf and contemplate life. I know this advice is on the wrong forum, so check our Captiva's forum for more info. There is a wonderful traveller on the Captiva forum called "Tourmaline" who can help you with ANYTHING Captiva -related, if this interests you.

Good luck planning your trip!

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6. Re: any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

What time of year? It's really hot and humid in the summer

in Florida and Washington DC. (but both Key West and

DC are great choices)

How long will you stay? How much driving are you willing

to do?

I'm partial to the Western states for scenery.....Colorado,

Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, even Black

Hills of South Dakota are great. For one state with a everything, well you can't beat California.

But I think it comes down to the month you would be here.

Fruita, Colorado
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7. Re: any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

In reading through the posts, I noted some great ideas but am wondering if you are aware of the miles that you would have to cover to do some of the things you have mentioned. Our county alone is larger than some of the states back east - the west is a huge area and you could spend a lot of time just driving if you don't focus and plan. You might consider using a company that specializes in RV trip planning for families. A good one is worth the money since all of the details are worked out for you and you can enjoy the trip. I have traveled all over the west, and you have to be prepared to do some "self catering" since some areas have few restaurants (just because there's a town doesn't mean there is food available). Reservations at campgrounds can fill up in the summer so it's good you are planning ahead. A good website for Colorado vacations is http://www.colorado.com/. Hope you enjoy whatever you do.

8. Re: any ideas on a American holiday, family, not Disney really

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