Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Finding Adventures

When I have a free day with the kids, I usually want to go somewhere.  But where to go?  Sure, some of the places are well-known and popular, but when I want to go somewhere different, I have an arsenal of sources to give me ideas.

I have seven or eight local interest/travel books that live in the car (until my husband cleans a little too well, at least).  Books like “Oddball Minnesota,” “Minnesota Museums,” and “Off the Beaten Path” are great to keep in the car so I can plan a great adventure while we’re on the way.  Going to the Kelley Farm in Elk River?  I check the books to see if there’s anything else interesting nearby.

Our local paper has a weekend calendar that it publishes each Friday.  Plays, concerts, community festivals, and more are included in the calendar.  It’s a nice way to find things to do that are close to home.  Likewise, there are segments on news stations like “Finding Minnesota” and “Trip on a Tankful” that point out interesting destinations.

I have memberships to the Minnesota Children’s Museum and the Minnesota Historical Society, and their membership mailings include special events.  I mark any that look interesting on my calendar, just in case we’re free to take advantage of them.

Online, I check out a few websites regularly.  The Museum Adventure Pass website has led me to some new places, with the advantage of free admissions from the library.  Playtime Plan-It has ideas for outings and more in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Area.  My favorite is GoCityKids, where I can enter a date on their events calendar and have a list of family-friendly happenings, complete with age recommendations, that range from storytimes to museum exhibits to theater productions.  I use the Minneapolis/St. Paul GoCityKids site, but it’s also available for several other metropolitan areas. 

Generic searches, such as “free museums Minnesota” have turned up some gems.

If we’re traveling farther from home, I try to plan ahead enough to request a visitor’s information packet from the local convention and visitor’s bureau, which can take 3-6 weeks to arrive.  I visit as many websites as I can before we go, and take printouts from locations on our “might-do” list.  I browse brochure racks at museums and hotels.  If possible, I take a laptop computer so I can get additional information at our destination.

My latest tool is a portable GPS unit for the car.  It’s been helpful in navigating to new places, especially when I’m without a human navigator in the vehicle, and it also includes phone numbers for many points of interest so I can call to check on hours, admission rates, etc.

Less than a Shoestring has compiled a list of U.S. State Tourist Information and Highway Maps for all 50 states. I’ll be using that when traveling out of state instead of searching for the appropriate department for each state.

Do you have any ideas for finding places to visit with your kids?  Please leave a comment!


1 Comment»

  Gette wrote @

You can use that GPS to go geocaching, too. Great fun on the cheap.

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