Summer vacation can seem like a long three months. The weather is hot, the pool is crowded, and the kids complain that there is nothing to do. So try something different this summer, ditch the electronics and hit the open road. Your kids will learn a lot about nature and a little about history, and you’ll enjoy the breath of fresh air. In an age where the word “connection” has more to do with your Internet service, delight in reconnecting with the past, your family, and the world.
Park the station wagon and go “old school” in a horse-drawn wagon. The Fort Seward Wagon Train forges ahead every June. It is an historic reenactment run by a nonprofit group in North Dakota and covers 65 miles in about a week. You’ll travel with your wagon family, stopping for lunch and camping in the evenings. Leave your cell phone and laptop behind, put on some prairie skirts, and experience the West. You’ll learn about the history of the area and live like the pioneers. Enjoy bread laden with freshly churned butter and buffalo stew and sleep under the stars.
Mark Twain had a special affinity for the Mississippi River. A “road trip” up the Mississippi is an historic and exciting adventure for the entire family. At the Clarksville visitor center in Missouri, you can check out one of the dams that made it possible for large ships to access the Mississippi. Take the Clarksville Skylift for a bird’s eye view of the majestic river.
In Hannibal, Missouri, take the Mark Twain Riverboat tour and learn about Mark Twain’s adventures. Then, travel on the Mark Twain Clopper, a horse-drawn wagon that takes you on a tour of the city’s historic district, and meander through Twain’s childhood home. Before you head to dinner, take the kids to Sawyer’s Creek Fun Park for some frolic and games. At the Mark Twain Cave, you can re-live Sawyer’s search for buried treasure and learn about the cave’s discovery.
At the Shatto Milk Company in Osborn, Missouri, learn about the workings of a 70-year-old dairy farm. Milk a cow, learn about bottling, or bottle-feed a baby calf. Try different flavors of milk, such as orange cream and root beer. If you’re following the Mississippi River, visit a pizza barn in Wisconsin. Drive through green, rolling hills and check out working farms that feature pizza restaurants in their barns. Not only will the kids enjoy seeing farm animals, but also what child doesn’t love pizza?
Learn about Laura Ingalls Wilder and prairie life in the Midwest. Start out in Pepin, Minnesota, where Wilder spent much of her childhood. Then visit Walnut Grove, where you can stay in an historic inn and experience more history. Visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and at the end of the day, go swimming in Plum Creek, just like Laura did in the olden days. If you travel along to De Smet, South Dakota, you can visit the Ingalls Homestead and stay in a cabin that looks like a covered wagon at the Ingalls Homestead Campground.
Seeing their kids enjoy time away from Twitter and Facebook accounts is every parent’s dream. Instead of the usual summer camp and swimming lessons, show them the beauty of the Midwest on a summer road trip. Whether you’re reliving pioneer life or journeying along the Mississippi River, you’ll be entertained while you explore literature, nature, and history.
Guest writer Gabriela Mendez is a mother of four, and a content contributor for autoinsurancecomparison.org