40 Places to Take Your Kids (But Also Yourself)!

I don’t want to write about.. all the places I HAVEN’T been..

Are you planning a family vacation? Are you dreaming of #travel? I love this article of these 40 must-see destinations. I want to see them all with my kids.

..for too many years anyway. I’m as much of a bucket list maker as someone can be! I believe in photography bucket lists, and spring bucket lists, and fall bucket lists, and definitely summer bucket lists. I believe in food bucket lists and more specifically – ice cream bucket lists. I believe in literary bucket lists, and somewhat related – career-as-a-whole bucket lists.

I believe in believing in bucket lists.


I read this awesome post based on this awesome article and it all fit together. I want to write about all the places I’ve been and will go, and I don’t want to write about all the places I haven’t been and will never go – unless to say it here, loud and clear, that I WILL go there. Put it on my list. Your kiss is on my list too, but that’s not listed in the article. (why??)

Thanks, Dara! So here are the 40 places from Today.com:

1 – Grand Canyon. I’ve never been, but I will go! I have zero fear of heights, although when I’m nervous, I get unbalanced. You know that song, “Unsteady”? That’s me! Not in front of grand and great things, though. This is on my list with your kiss.

2 – Yellowstone National Park. I’ve been twice, and once with Cassidy. I dream about taking the kids all the time.

3 – Freedom Trail in Boston. How have we not?? We live in Massachusetts! This seems remedy-able.

4 – The French Quarter. I have been! Do I want to take my kids? Umm.. maybe when they’re older. It was such a wild and untamed place – the stuff of all kinds of dreams and nightmares. Uncle Sam lives there so I think/hope it will happen.

5 – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of this place, but count me in!

6 – Dinosaur Valley State Park. See above!

7 – Stingray City. That’s a “yes” for me – in terms of wanting to go.

8 – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Another miss and we have been to Cleveland! (once) My mom and sister went and got Scarlet an excellent Yellow Submarine shirt that Des now wears. Maybe that takes us a little closer..

9 – Bioluminescent Bay. This is on my photography bucket list!

10 – An Alaska Cruise. hmm.. none of us are cruise people. It’s sort of our worst nightmares. I’d rather be in an elevator for 7 days. Alaskan cruises, though? That’s different. Sign me up for smooth seas, with lots of whales, and moose at ports.

11 – National Civil Rights Museum. I would love all of us to go one day.

12 – Sanibel & Captiva Islands. Never been, but I’d love to take the family to escape our winter.

13 – Monterey Bay Aquarium. I LOVE this place. Cassidy and I went. I remember reading that they briefly had a Great White Shark in captivity? Anyway, I saw otters there. Not even IN there. Just hanging around it. Free otters wanting to hang!

14 – Niagara Falls. I’ve been there.. three times or so. Cassidy and I went and it was VERY eventful. Maybe one day we’ll take Scarlet and tell her she was conceived there and she’ll be all, “ewwwwwwww!”

15 – Petrified Forest I once plotted out a cross country road trip and this was a stop on it. The road trip didn’t happen because my boyfriend cheated on me and that’s not even why I didn’t go on this trip. There was another man. Ah, youth.

16 – Statue of Liberty. This was our big 5th grade field trip, and also the only field trip I can remember in which my mom was chaperone. I almost chickened out but she talked me into going to the crown with her. It was worth it.

17 – Disney World. Four years and counting as a family of four!

Are you planning a family vacation? Are you dreaming of #travel? I love this article of these 40 must-see destinations. I want to see them all with my kids.

18 – Climb Mt. Rainier. Ohh.. climb it? I mean, visit it is one thing, but CLIMB it? Des complains when he gets a rain drop on his foot. I can just imagine his old man venting? But hey, I would never dream of ruling it out.

19 – Galapagos Islands. Doesn’t it make your heart skip a beat? I’d love for us all to see it one day.

20 – Sesame Place. It’s not far from my parent’s house! It’s nearly too late for us, though.

21 – Pacific Coast Highway Drive. Two of us have done this and I can’t wait to do this with the kids. I dream about it often. I remember making a mix CD for my first drive on it, when mix CDs were still cool.

22 – Ground Zero. Cassidy and I have both been there, but not at the same time. I haven’t told my kids that story yet. It’s a bit much. One day, I will, and one day they’ll read what I wrote about it here.

23 – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yes, times four!

24 – Wisconsin Dells. I mean, sure, if we all happen to ever be in Wisconsin?

25 – Redwood National & State Parks. PLEASE. One day.

26 – Swim with Manatees. Please, please can we do this?

27 – San Diego Zoo. I think I’m the only one who’s been there but since San Diego has my dream weather, maybe we’ll all move there one day and live in the zoo. Although I wouldn’t be able to NOT free this guy:

Are you planning a family vacation? Are you dreaming of #travel? I love this article of these 40 must-see destinations. I want to see them all with my kids.

28 – Plimouth Plantation. With our annual treks to Cape Cod and back, one should think we will go one day.

29 – Buckingham Palace. Please sign all four of us up for a trip to London.

30 – The Colorado Rockies. Cassidy alone has been to Colorado. It’s always been on my bucket list. I got SO close when we were visiting parks in Utah. Why didn’t I go??? There are so many gems to visit in Colorado, and I’m mountain-obsessed.

31 – Cedar Point. Wait, what? 17 roller coasters? And to think, I just went on the FIRST TWO OF MY LIFE!

32 – Kennedy Space Center. You know, I hope it happens. Scarlet thinks space is cool. I have a slight outer space phobia, but all the more reason. I tend to beat (or at least meet) phobias in Florida. (see above)

33 – Fort De Soto Park. I’ve never even heard of this, but sounds AMAZING! By the way, the article gives age levels, which is cool.

34 – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Sign us all up! Only Cassidy has been to Hawaii.

35 – Mesa Verde. 0 for 4. Sign me up, though.

36 – Ride Cable Cars in San Francisco. I lived there for two years and didn’t do this until about a month before we moved back. My mom was visiting us for one last time there, and she treated me to a ride. We have to go back!

37 – Waikiki Beach. Maybe Cassidy has gone? We all four would go in a heartbeat (or a long flight)!

38 – National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Another 0 for 4, but we’ve been to the Basketball Hall of Fame!

39 – Yosemite. Ok, so I’ve been there once with Cassidy and we were there for a few days. We had a cabin in the middle of nowhere with a hot tub under shooting stars. We stayed in and made bacon and watched a ton of movies, so one day I want to go back and see more of it. I remember the smoky smell and the crisp air, and oh god, take me back.

Wait just a minute. I have photos from our cabin’s porch.

Well, if THAT doesn’t sum it up. What does? Oh yeah! I forgot one:

40 – Millenium Park. It’s never been all four of us there, but it will happen. On the sooner side.

I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “I don’t want to write about..” You can link up HERE.

What do you NOT want to write about? How many of these places have you visited?

The Journey is the Destination: Prepare for a Spontaneous Road Trip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

Have you ever gone on a spontaneous, no-destination road trip? It's all about the journey sometimes. Here are tips to make the best of it! #PureLife35pk #ad

Ok, y’all KNOW how much I like road trips, right? Planned or spontaneous, I do it all!

To me, road trips are life. You know what else is life? Water. That’s right. No matter our plans, journeys, and destinations, that’s probably the #1 aspect to think about – ESPECIALLY with kids in the picture. You can find Nestlé® products at Walmart online, but make sure to visit the store for the 35 pack! As shoppers, we are receiving a great value by getting 3 more bottles for the same price as the old 32 pack! If the 35-pack of Nestlé® Pure Life® is not available in your local Walmart, please ask a store manager about getting the product in your area.

The 24-pack is available for purchase online

The Nestle Pure Life 35-pack is re-launching in May in store! With NEW PACKAGING! That’s always fun, right?

road trip

Now onto our scheduled story about how to prepare for a spontaneous/no-destination road trip. My favorite kind!

In fact, sometimes even the planned ones wind up following their own curves and paths. And then with each one I realize, we didn’t stick to the original itinerary even a little! That feeling I got when I was 17 and had just received my driver’s license? It never fully went away. It never got old. Road trips make you feel ALIVE.

road trip

And connected. Of course, I have a story!

I was 23. It was a January ice storm and I was fed up! I had a new car, some extra graduation money, and a heart for adventure. At first we thought we wanted to go to New Mexico, but then we read that the deserts get cold in the winter so we decided we’d go south. For us, it was ALL about the journey. We packed layers, picked up supplies at Walmart, and then we were off. We kept driving until there was no more ice, and eventually no more night. You can say we drove off the ice and darkness – shaking them off! We wound up in Jacksonville, Florida.

Then we kept driving all the way to the ends of the earth (or the US) to Key West.

road trip

With stops in the Carolinas, a sunrise breakfast in Savannah, Georgia, and fun jaunts in Key Largo, Islamorada, and anywhere with alligators, I loved that we didn’t know the essential Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How answers of a planned trip. I think we found even more adventure than we thought possible. Adventures included shining a flashlight in the ocean before dawn and seeing an octopus! There was swimming with dolphins and rays, and renting bicycles. There was staying at the fancy hotel in Key West, charming the Customer Service Desk enough that she gave us free breakfast upgrade passes, and ordering juice on the beach. It was amazing!

I’ll never forget that feeling of driving through Miami and then getting onto Route 1 into the wilderness of deer, alligators and tarpons. I could go on and on describing that trip but the point is that we followed our wildest dreams into an ocean adventure. If that’s not living, I don’t know what is. Now we still have adventurous spirits, but we have kids. While “planning” seems to defeat the purpose of a spontaneous road trip, you can “prepare” for one in no time at all. I go on a lot of road trip adventures – up and down the east coast, all over New England, in California’s wine country, and throughout some amazing parts of Alaska. I can’t pick a favorite destination!

And that’s because it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

Nestle Pure Life

Have you ever gone on a spontaneous, no-destination road trip? It's all about the journey sometimes. Here are tips to make the best of it! #PureLife35pk #ad

Ready to learn how to feel inspired by spring/summer/fall road trips, but also prepared and secure? I’ve got ya!

1 – Water, of course, as mentioned above! Pure Life is re-launching in mid-May and will have new packaging. This one is a no-brainer for my family. We thrive on hydration to power up our adventures! Nestlé Pure Life is committed to delivering pure, great-tasting water to our family and yours – because every drop in every bottle is filtered through a 12-step quality process. They ensure great taste by enhancing their water with a unique blend of minerals. Through recycling at both schools, both kids have made sure we’re committed to recycling!

Nestle Pure Life

2 – Snacks are key. This is another no-brainer but when you don’t know how long you’ll be in the car – hours, days, or weeks – you have to bring foods that last. Think fruit, dried fruit, trail mix, beef or turkey jerky, nutrition bars, etc. Think water, of course. I mentioned water, right? Water and snacks. And personally I love to pick up the local foods at the places on my journey. Think whoopie pies in New England, or Key Lime Pie in Florida!

road trip snacks

3 – Don’t wait until you’re too tired to find a hotel or place to stay. I have done this, way too many times. Luckily for me, it was before I had kids so I only had a cranky boyfriend, friend, or cranky self to contend with!

road trip hotels

4 – Use your websites and apps to find unsold accommodations and attractions tickets. Last minute travel sites and apps let your name your own price on last-minute hotels and attractions. You might not know where you’re staying until you’ve already paid, but maybe that’s part of the fun? You can save a lot of money on these sites – specifically designed for last minute trips! Apparently, the spirit of adventure can be rewarding in financial ways.

spontaneous road trip

5 – Plan your route, even spontaneously. Even with no destination in mind, you’ll want to have SOME idea of where you’re headed and how long you’ll have on the road. Websites like Road Trip America and Rand McNally offer free road trip routes to help you plan your drive. You don’t have to be too specific – just click on the regions you want to visit and you’ll get several options. This will help you with time management, sight-seeing, and is crucial if you don’t have an open-ended trip in mind, but need to be home! You can also create and plot out backup routes and trips. That way the spirit of spontaneity lives on! I do this for all trips – long-planned or not.

Have you ever gone on a spontaneous, no-destination road trip? It's all about the journey sometimes. Here are tips to make the best of it! #PureLife35pk #ad

6 – Have a travel bucket list. Checking off items becomes easier as you set forth on adventures!


7 – Combat boredom. Think ahead about music, video games, and travel games too!

8 – Know your budget. You will have to divide it between lodging, gas, food, souvenirs, attractions, etc.

9 – Pack light and prep your car. This is the time to downsize on what you pack. Pack your own cleanup supplies, and check your car tires, fluids, battery, brakes, and gas!

10 – Take a TON of photos!

Visit Nestle Pure Life to sign up for promotions, offers, and more!

Have you ever gone on a spontaneous, no-destination road trip? It's all about the journey sometimes. Here are tips to make the best of it! #PureLife35pk #ad

And, Enjoy your adventures!