By Terrance Zepke
Summer is drawing to a close, but there is still time to have good times with your grandchildren. There are lots of cool things you can still do with children this summer and everyone will have a good time. Here are a few ideas:
1. Visit Oregon Caves National Monument (Cave Junction, Oregon) and stay in a treehouse resort. Activities include hiking, exploring, and kids over 15 can crawl through an off-trail caving tour wearing lighted helmets. At the end of the day, take a short 25-minute drive to Out’N’About Treehouse Resort. Most treehouses sleep four or more. All have refrigerators, sinks, toilets, and a ground-level bathhouse. The resort offers swimming, volleyball, basketball, a zipline course, horseback riding, and rafting. The rates are $120 a night and include breakfast and use of grills and stoves. www.treehouses.com
2. Rent a houseboat on Lake Powell (Arizona and Utah). After a detailed orientation, you may depart the Wahweap Marina and begin your adventure. There is a three-day minimum with prices starting at $1,686 for three days and nights aboard a 46-foot Voyager. Besides boating and swimming (and a secluded beach and recreation area), there are Indian rock formations to explore and the Navajo Village Heritage Center. Less than three hours away are the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Bryce National Park. www.nps.gov and www.lakepowell.com
3. Check out the 500,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is so much to see and do, such as 800 miles of trails, whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River Gorge, horseback riding, Cades Cove, a lively outdoor drama featuring Cherokee Indians, Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood theme park. Lodging options include camping (choose from 10 campgrounds), cabins, motels, and rentals. www.gsmnp.com
4. See Cowboys and Geysers. Let someone else do the driving! Globus Tours offers a fun family adventure that includes a horse-drawn covered wagon ride, Chuck Wagon cookout, rafting on the Snake River, a Cody rodeo, a visit to the famous Geysers of Yellowstone and much more. Sites include: Salt Lake City, Jackson, Yellowstone National Park, Cody, Hot Springs, Mount Rushmore, and Custer State Park. The cost for the all-inclusive ten-day vacation is $1,999 for adults.
5. In addition to vacation, families can enjoy memorable daytrips all summer and throughout the year: Alligator Alley (Summerdale, Alabama).Visitors will find more than 200 alligators, ranging from five feet to thirteen feet long. Feedings are done three times a day so that visitors can watch a gator chow down! www.gatoralleyfarm.com. Geppi’s Museum (Baltimore, Maryland) has thousands of vintage toys and collectibles that the kids will love and make parents and grandparents nostalgic. www.geppismuseum.com. The world’s longest cave system is Mammoth Cave National Park and it can be explored in a variety of options (Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. www.nps.gov/maca. Graveyard of the Atlantic is a museum that has an unusual design because it was built to be hurricane proof. That was necessary given that it is located at the end of Hatteras Island, North Carolina, which has seen more than its fair share of hurricanes. See exhibits featuring shipwrecks, pirates, lighthouses and other neat maritime stuff. www.graveyardoftheatlantic.com
Terrance Zepke has a B.A. in Journalism and a Masters degree in Mass Communications and a lifetime of travel experience. Her parents took her on her first big trip when she was barely three years old. Since that time, the award-winning writer/photographer has traveled to every continent and lived all over the world during her career as a travel writer. She is the author of numerous travel references and several other books. Her many adventures include dog-sledding in the Arctic, piranha-fishing along the Amazon, camel treks in Egypt and Morocco, and hot-air ballooning in the Northern Serengeti. She is in demand as a speaker and has appeared on The Learning Channel, History Channel, and Travel Channel.
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