When you’re planning that last summer blowout vacation, it’s easy to think that you have to go somewhere big! And somewhere popular! And somewhere affiliated with Disney or movie stars or both! Really, though, there are all sorts of great and fun places to go—for a fraction of what you’d pay to go to the place the commercials tell you should want to go. If you’re looking for a fun family adventure to close out your summer, here are some options that you should definitely consider.
Take a week or so to travel Route 66. Route 66 perhaps the most iconic roads in our country and was an inspiration to much of our folk culture. It’s easy enough to drive the whole thing in just a few days but it’s better if you really take your time, giving yourself time to explore the different historical sites you’ll find along the route and nearby.
For example, Oklahoma has all sorts of great history on and near its section of the road. The route goes right through Oklahoma City, which is one of the northern stars of Chickasaw Nation (an area definitely worth exploring if your family likes learning about Native American culture and history). People tend to bolt through Oklahoma but the state is filled with cultural and historical significance (and quite a few landmarks worth visiting).
Did you know that you can still find the occasional abandoned wagon or piece of frontier equipment along the route that made up the Oregon Trail? It’s true. Scavengers have picked off most of it (understandable since the route stopped being popular once the highway system was put in place) but a few pieces are still there.
Today, you can’t drive along the actual Oregon Trail but you can visit important sites, like the ruts in Wyoming and the end of the Oregon Trail travel center in Oregon City. While you’re in Oregon, take some time to head over to Portland for some bicycling and exploring at Powell’s Books or drive the few hours southwest to Newport—where you’ll find one of the best aquariums in the country.
The Freedom Trail
Happily, this is one that you actually can do in a single day. The Freedom Trail is located in Boston and is easily walkable in an afternoon. The trail takes you and your family through the major important historical sites of Revolutionary Boston. Most of the stops are very well preserved and free to explore. The few that do charge admission are reasonably priced.
You can get a map of the trail and explore on your own (as your kids’ moods and energy levels allow) or you can take one of the guided tours, performed by actors in period costumes. There is also plenty of history to see off of the trail in Boston and in the other New England colonies, but those will involve renting a car and doing some driving. Pennsylvania is just a couple of hours away!
Our country has an amazing history and taking your kids to see the different parts of it is a great way to help really bring home the things they learn about in school and get a pretty great vacation out of the experience. What is your favorite “enjoy history” trip? What sites have you always wanted to see? Take your kids to see them this year. Or, if you don’t have kids, go on your own! History has no age limits!