19 answers

Destination Ideas for Little Ones

Does anyone have any ideas or places to take 3 kids (6, 3 1/2, 15 months) for a vacation?? Would like to go in early june as we are due in early sept with #4! don't want to wait til i can't chase anybody : )
we're thinking of travel by car...and would like it to be economical (i.e. not disney) but we're not coming up with any good ideas...figured this would be the place to ask!!

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You should try the Wilderness Lodge in Wis. Dells. There are big indoor waterparks for all ages to enjoy. The Great Wolf Lodge is also very fun. It is roughly a 2-2.5hr drive from the Chicago area. These hotels are the exit just before the main Wis Dells exit. There is an outlet mall right by the 2 above mentioned hotels and there is lots to do for families in the area and with the hotels. Enjoy!

I haven't been yet, but my neighbor and her family go to Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Wisconsin. It is on a lake and everything to do is right at the resort. She went last summer with a 4 & 7 year old and they loved it.

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We have also thought about where we could go with little ones! Although, we're not going anywhere this summer, #2 is due in May! We have considered Minneapolis... We've heard Mall of America is fun and the area is really nice. I am sure there are lots of family orientated things to do there, we haven't researched it too much yet. But it would be a nice place to start... A co-worker is from the area and raves about the outdoor activities there as well. Good luck!

Ok .. not sure how cheap you want to go but I say go to Springfield!! Get the hotel that has 2 rooms. I think its called Stay bridge suites. The kids can sleep on a pull out sofa and they can ge tyou a crib too! Then you and the DH can sleein the bedroom. It has a pool and there are lots of FREE things to do.. the Capitol, Lincolns house, fire station musem... all kinds of things and most of it is FREE.. Eat at the Pizza Machine.. they give the kids dough to play with... anyway its only a couple hours to drive and it was a lot of fun.. we plan to go back!

Good Luck!!

F.
www.thebodyshopathome.com/web/faithjones

Tennesse - we rented a cabin in Galinburg, it is a 8-10 hr drive. There's dollywood, the comedy barn (expensive) but worth EVERY penny!! The kids will love it. The cabin had hot tub and it also had a pool in the vicinity. Eagles Ridge Resort. It was our favorite vacation.

How do you feel about camping? Don't laugh, my mother in law did it with 8 kids! I grew up in Chicago, camped once and married an avid camper from Wisconsin. Best vacation for kids! We go to Door County, peninsula state park every year. They live outdoors: bike, hike, swim, they see the plays in the amphitheater at night, campfires, they go to bed on their own they are so exhausted by the end of the day. As they get older, its a terrific opportunity to get "unplugged" as I call it. No computers, cell phones, gameboys, ninetendo, they learn to be creative and be kids again. They loved it. This year my 19 year old is joining us with his friends, they have their own campsite just a few down from ours. The only advice I can offer, it be prepared (the air mattresses that blow up are worth their weight in gold!). Just a suggestion. Happy vacation and congratulations on #4.
L.

You should try the Wilderness Lodge in Wis. Dells. There are big indoor waterparks for all ages to enjoy. The Great Wolf Lodge is also very fun. It is roughly a 2-2.5hr drive from the Chicago area. These hotels are the exit just before the main Wis Dells exit. There is an outlet mall right by the 2 above mentioned hotels and there is lots to do for families in the area and with the hotels. Enjoy!

what about the Wisconsin Dells, my girlfreinds and her family go there every year and they love it. We plan a short trip there for the first time this summer. Loads to do for the whole family & not to far. They should have a website to check out.

Totally the Dells are where it's at!!! We just went with our 1 & 3 yr old daughters and My Uncle & Aunt went at the same time w/ their 5 yr old and we all had an awesome time!!! We stayed at the Wilderness Resort and this was just in Feb, so we only played in the 3 indoor waterparks they had there, They definitely have s/thing for all ages in just the indoor ones, I can't imagine what they have in the other 3 (I think, maybe 2) outdoor ones that will be open when you are thinking of going. Just make sure to be prepared for walking.

Not only did they have stuff for the kids but they had BIG waterslides for the older crowd too!!!

Tip: if you really do decide to go after you brave the walk and hear the whining and having to carry the little ones all around, grab the luggage cart and toat it down to the pool with you!!! They have fun, your back won't hurt :-)

How about renting a home or condo on a lake in Michigan or Wisconsin? Try somewhere like Saugatuck, MI. It is 2 1/2 or 3 hours by car, on lake Michigan, super cute tourist town with a beach and restaurants...

I second Lisa's idea of going to Minneapolis. Not only is the Mall of America great for adults to buy clothes WITHOUT SALES TAX, but there are a ton of other great places in the Twin Cities.

The MOA has an indoor amusement park, Underwater World, mini golf, a movie theatre, Lego Land, and lot of other good attractions.

In St. Paul there is a fantastic Science Museum and Children's Museum. There are also fantastic parks all around, including Como Park which has walking and bike trails, a FREE zoo, kid-friendly amusement park rides, lake with paddle boats for rent, conservatory and a lot of other things.

Minneapolis has the Walker Art Center which I vividly recall visiting when I was a child. You could also take dinner cruise on the Mississippi River, of rent a boat and go out on any of the 13,000 lakes in the state. TONS of stuff to keep you busy in the Twin Cities!

There's also a great semi-pro baseball teama called the St. Paul Saints which is supposed to be a very family-friendly atmosphere and has a whole lot more going on at the stadium than your typical MLB game.

If you visit near the end of summer, right before Labor Day, you could even go to the MN State Fair which is the 2nd biggest in the nation (right after Texas).

Have I sold you on MN yet??

We took our children 3.5 and 20 months on an all inclusive in Mexico for 5 nights. All inclusives are very affordable-It cost us
$1800.00 for all four of us for 5 nights and 6 days. That included air, food, hotel, beverages. If you like pools and beaches and water activities all inclusives are the way to go.

I haven't been yet, but my neighbor and her family go to Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Wisconsin. It is on a lake and everything to do is right at the resort. She went last summer with a 4 & 7 year old and they loved it.

you didn't say where you really wanted to go. I will offer you something that is not too far by car..about 4 1/2 to 5 hours. St. Louis. They have some great free stuff..the zoo, located in Forest Park,is free. they also have a childrens' museum. Grant's Farm is free as well(plus, since it is owned by Busch, the grown ups can sample some free beer). The other place is a little to the west of downtown st. louis and it is call purina farms. plus there is the arch, the museum beneath the arch. there is a really nice art museum in Forest Park too! if you do some checking, you can probably find hotels at around $100. hope this helps. We have spent quite a bit of time in St. Louis because our son is going to college down there!!!

We've taken our son to Pennsylvania (around Philly area) to the Sesame Street Park. It's fairly cheap for the park and hotels in the area. The most expensive thing is the gas! :( We did the Elmo park for 2 days, and another day drove to the New Jersey shore to Atlantic City to play/relax on the beach. The other day we went to a huge aquarium in Camden, NJ which was very close as well. Sesame Park's website is www.sesamepark.com. We've also gone to Mall of America as well and that was also a good time. Good luch and have fun!!

The Wisconsin Dells are great. You can get a great deals if you don't go on Holiday weekends. They are very family friendly and most have water parks on site or will give you free passes to close water parks. The water parks are great and most if not all have zero depth pools (pools are less than a foot deep). The dining in the dells is very affordable. Do your homework and utilize the internet for special deals, coupons and planning.
The Dells is about a 3-4 hour car ride depending on traffic.

Hope this helps!
R.

A fantastic place to go is Chalet on the Lake in Stevensville, Michigan. It's a resort that has many things for the kids to do...park, fishing, tennis courts, pools, the beach, and it's also minutes from St. Joseph which has a children's museum, another beach area, etc. There is a website chaletonthelake.com
We have been going since my son was 16 months...he's now 7 and my daughter is 5. I would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.
S. C.
____@____.com

Hi J. - we had the same dilemma. Somewhere not too far and family friendly. In my research I came across a cabin resort called cabins by the lake in southwest Michigan. It was about 80 miles from Chicago and the cabins were beautiful. There were playgrounds, a small lake/beach, activities. The price of the cabins went down significantly if staying a week (about $100 per night). For us - staying 3 nights and paying about $200 each night didn't make sense.
Someone suggested Starved Rock state park near Utica. There is a very nice cabin/hotel resort called Great Bear Lodge. We are staying at a Days Inn nearby since we are traveling with 2 small dogs too. But there is a dog resort nearby that will dog sit while we do the Bear Lodge which has an inside amusement park (and indoor waterpark for sleep over guests). Plus there are 3 state parks in the area. It seemed a good fit for us.
Good luck!!
S. in Lisle

J.....We are actually taking the kids to the dells in a week for spring break..my boys are 14,8 and 6...now the 8 year old is on the shorter side...he is the same size as the 6 year old so I found one of the hotels that he and the 6 year old can do all the water slides except one of them...so they are looking forward to a week of fun with the family....Good Luck

check out woodsideranch.com it's a dude ranch 45 minutes past the dells in wisconsin with all sorts of fun stuff for kids and babysitting for parents..trail rides, log cabins, pondpool, trading post ,ponies,put put.. i went there with my family as a little girl and now take my family every year.... something different and fun!!! also ...its an all inclusive price.... and the food is family style and good too!!! the cinnamon rolls are to die for!!!

A family-friendly area that we have gone to for many years starting when my kids were small (like yours are) is Minocqua Wisconsin. It is about 350 miles from Chicago in the Wisconsin Northwoods. It has a nice public beach (with lifeguard) and a big playground, a shopping area, a good selection of hotels and a variety of restaurants. It has a free water ski show in the summer. Also in the area that is fun for kids are a lumberjack show and a wildlife park with small animals to pet and deer to feed. There are a lot of campgrounds in the area in case you like to camp. It's a nice, relaxing area with a totally different atmosphere. But it does fill up so make reservations soon for June! I'd be happy to answer any questions if you have any.

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