midwest family vacation with young children

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Hi, I thought I would post here for a request of ideas for a fun , relatively inexpensive vacation for our family of four. We have a 6 y.o. daughter and a boy 2.5 y.o.
We love nature but also don't mind the occasional day of "wildlife" kiddie style. :) We live in Southwest Ohio and dont mind a drive. We are open to resorts, state parks, amusement parks, or ?????
We like the woods, water, boating, kid stuff, horseback riding for 6 y.o. Hiking is a bit out with the little one for any real length of time, but ?? I dont mind a little bargain hunting either if I can. lol
We dont mind cooking, but really like to eat out at least some,, otherwise not really a vacation for me!!!
Just looking for a fun family vacation that we can start saving for now.. thanks so much! Have a great weekend ahead to all of you! Flowerlou.

Denver Metro Area, CO(Zone 5a)

Hi Flowerlou,
We loved riding on the Majestic Riverboat, in Pittsburgh. Maybe there is a website with a list of the "happenings" in that part of the world--ethnic riches abound in Pgh! Amusement parks have some water features that the kids will enjoy (there's even a story about a bullet hole in a tree, shot there by Geo. Washington, if I remember correctly). They have a Children's celebration each year that cannot be beat and their public television station hosts a great open house, too. If you get there, shop at Gabriel Bros. and get the kids' back-to-school clothing at a fraction of the price you'd pay at home;)
If that doesn't trip your trigger, what about a trip on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls???
Have a great vacation!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Marietta has some really fun events, too. They have boat races on the Ohio River in July, and you can ride on an old Sternwheel boat in September. They have old historical houses that you can tour all year long, too, and lots of cute shops. It's a neat town!

More about Marietta: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marietta,_Ohio

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Well northern WI like Door County or the Northwoods might be a bit of a drive for you. I know Wisconsin Dells is very popular and has the nature and younger kid entertainment and would be many hours closer.

Lafayette, IN(Zone 5a)

How about a waterpark in the summer which transforms into an iceskating rink in winter? Deep River Water Park near Merrillville in northern Indiana is great fun. In the summer months we love all the different slides, wave pools, a Lazy River, lounge chairs, etc. They have a picnic area so that you can bring in a lunch or go to your car and bring it in after playing a while. It is clean and convenient. They don't sock you for more money once you pay to get in. They also have lockers to put away your shoes, small cooler, etc. And the landscaping is interesting. My daughters, grandchildren, my sister and her young one make a number of trips each summer. You can check out their website via Google. It is not inexpensive but anyone under 46" is only $7.95 and a day spent here is fun for everyone in the family. I think it's a great place for those who are afraid of water - you can ease in at your own pace. It is irresistable.

Bloomingdale, OH(Zone 6a)

Dubuque, Iowa has tons of interesting sites, fun and educational too, lol.

Dozen Distinctive Destinations

Dubuque, Iowa

A picturesque urban work of art perched high on a bluff above America’s mightiest river, Dubuque, Iowa, (pop. 58,000) proudly calls itself the "Masterpiece of the Mississippi." Settled in 1788 by Canadian fur trader Julien Dubuque, the vibrant city celebrates its heritage at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, which showcases three centuries of history, and through authentic paddleboat excursions. Dubuque’s steep hills also offer plenty of vistas for those who prefer to do their sightseeing on high. The city boasts the nation’s shortest, steepest scenic cable car, offering a quick but breath-taking ride that deposits visitors in Fenelon Place, an area of lovingly preserved Victorian homes. If cable cars don’t appeal, the 164-acre Eagle Point Park overlooking the river has spectacular views of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. For lovers of architecture and history, the 1856 Italianate mansion of Mathias Ham provides a rare glimpse of what life was like on the river for one of the elite few, while the gold-domed Dubuque County Courthouse, circa 1891, is a fine example of Beaux Arts Classicism. Just outside of town, the Crystal Lake Cave, known for its intricate formations, is a cool refuge in summer, and the "Field of Dreams" movie site, a quaint family farm with a baseball diamond carved into its cornfields, is the ideal place to unwind and run the bases after a great Dubuque day.

For these reasons, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the country's largest private, nonprofit preservation organization, today named Dubuque, Iowa, to its 2005 list of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations, an annual list of unique and lovingly preserved communities in the United States. It was selected from nearly 80 destinations in 44 states that were nominated by individuals, preservation organizations and local communities.

"Dubuque offers a wealth of pleasant surprises," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Visitors are first struck by the mighty presence of Old Man River, but they soon realize that given the city’s absorbing history, splendid architecture and spectacular setting, the Mississippi is only one part of Dubuque’s fascinating story."

I'd start with the Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

Stay at the Grand Harbor Resort and you can walk to the Aquarium, then play in the indoor waterpark before bed. http://www.grandharborresort.com/

Time your trip to include one of our fabulous festivals! http://www.dubuque365.com/stage/browse/Tourism/Festivals%20%26%20Annual%20Events?

Fenlon Place Elevator, the worlds shortest steepest inclined railway. http://www.dbq.com/fenplco/info.html

Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, the only arboretum and botanical garden in the USA staffed entirely by volunteers. (I'm one of them, lol) http://www.dubuquearboretum.com/

Crystal Lake Caves http://www.crystallakecave.com/

Field of Dreams Movie Site http://fieldofdreamsmoviesite.com/

Other area attractions http://www.tristatetourism.com/attractions.cfm

See some pics from past events. http://partners.dubuque365.com/photofeatures/index.html

And finally, if I was within 200 miles of Spring Green, Wi, I would definitely make the time to visit The House on the Rock. http://www.thehouseontherock.com/html/attraction.htm

Convinced yet? I love to play tour guide too, lol.


Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Hey, I used to live right up the road from The House on the Rock! (Actually I literally lived right up the road from Sextonville, but our address was Lone Rock.) It's a REALLY neat place! And Dubuque is gorgeous. One of the prettiest towns I've ever been in.

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Dubuque is nice , Galena 20 miles away is even better for historic architecture.

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