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One of our favorite experiences at Rocky Mountain National Park was hiking along Bear Lake. It’s a relatively easy hike; the terrain is relatively flat. And here’s a great tip–you don’t have to hike all the way around to see the beauty of the lake. We didn’t. We hiked about halfway and turned around. If you’re looking for a great hike for families in Rocky Mountain National Park, look no further. When Should You Hike Bear Lake Loop When we visited Rocky Mountain National Park, timed entry tickets were required. This is something you definitely want to check into before your trip. You may need to score that reservation before you head out, and sometimes you need to do it a few weeks or months ahead. Bu sure to check out the Rocky Mountain National Park website well in advance as you plan your trip. Most people suggest going to…

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the park we’ve visited the most in the U.S., and Clingmans Dome within the park is one of our favorite places we’ve visited. Named for U. S. Senator and explorer Thomas Lanier Clingman from Ashville, North Carolina, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the park, and this mountain provides gorgeous views from 6,643 feet. Not only are the views stunning, but this outing also provided us with one of our longest in-person bear sightings in the Smokies. Of course, you should obviously keep your distance from all wildlife. The general recommendation from authorities is to maintain a distance of 100 yards from black bears. Do not call out to wildlife to entice it to come closer, and certainly don’t offer food. And though your instinct may be to run, that is also a bad idea. Sometimes, though, you may just be hiking along…

Few places scream “summertime” like a drive-in movie, and luckily, 66 Drive-In is one of the few still in operation. Located outside of Carthage, Missouri, along historic Route 66, this drive-in promises family fun under the stars. 66 Drive-In 66 Drive-In: 17231 Old 66 Boulevard, Carthage, Missouri Since we live in nearby Joplin, we arrive from the west. It’s important to arrive early to be sure you can get in, especially when the movie offerings are popular. If you wait too long, you will find yourself in a line of traffic waiting your turn to pull into 66 Drive-In. The drive-in is only open three days–Friday, Saturday, and Sunday–during the summer. Currently, the prices are $8.00 for adults and $4.00 for kids. Compared to indoor movie prices, that’s a bargain! And you get to see two films if you wish. One thing to note–you must pay cash to get in,…

Savannah, Georgia, is a beautiful place to visit. While the city may have a reputation as a destination for couples or girls-only weekends, Savannah offers a lot of fun for families, especially if you enjoy mixing family fun with history like we do. The Backstory We made the trek to Savannah after one of our Disney World visits. We drive from Joplin, Missouri, so I’m always on the lookout for somewhere to explore on the drive home. I was first drawn in by Savannah’s beauty and charm. I’d read John Berendt’s book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and I’m also a fan of the movie. Add in the book Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley and the movie Forrest Gump, and I had plenty of reasons to make a stop in Savannah. Arriving in Savannah, Georgia We’d just spent two nights in St. Augustine, Florida, so we were only…

When you think of Estes Park, Colorado, barbecue is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But if you’re in the area, you should definitely check out Smokin’Daves’s BBQ & Brew. We’re always game to try out a new barbecue place, and when I saw that the menu had bison ribs…well, we couldn’t resist. Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ: The Location 820 Moraine Avenue, Estes Park, Colorado We tried out the original location that sits in a rather picturesque location surrounded by mountains. The scenery is gorgeous, but that is true anywhere in Estes Park. The inside is rustic like you’d expect a barbecue joint to be. It has a sports bar kind of vibe, but it’s totally family-friendly. Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ: The Food We were eager to sample the barbecue, especially those bison ribs since I’d never tried them before. We had some difficult decisions to make. Jeff and…

One of the most peaceful yet otherworldly places I’ve ever been to is Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky. Located near Moab, Utah, this national park features sandstone mesas and deep crevices surrounded by the Colorado and Green rivers; it looks like the setting of an old-time western movie.  It’s difficult to explain the feeling of looking out into the vast landscape from the top of the plateau.  If you’re in the Moab area, this is a great place to add to your itinerary! Once you’re at the top, the Island in the Sky scenic drive is a great way to see the highlights of this part of Canyonlands. Mesa Arch, probably the most popular hike, is not difficult and is relatively short. Other great features along the drive have paved walkways, making it a great option for families. Getting to Island in the Sky This park is only…

When we began planning a stop in Charleston, South Carolina, one of the places Jeff was really looking forward to was the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. He is really into military planes and ships, so this was the perfect place for him to explore. I love history, so I was all-in, too.  And Kristin, well, she likes exploring just about anything. Our Plan for Charleston We’d already spent nearly two weeks away from home on this particular trip to Walt Disney World. On the way down, we spent some time in Memphis.  After that, we had several days at Disney. Before we headed home, we spent a couple of nights in St. Augustine, Florida. For a final stop on the trip, we decided to spend a night in Charleston for the first time. We left St. Augustine in good time, and we arrived in Charleston just in time…

One of the best ways to get an overview of Rocky Mountain National Park is to take a drive on Trail Ridge Road. You’ll eventually climb 4,000 feet and witness different biomes as you make the ascent from the comfort of your vehicle, though we did see some mountain bikers on our trip. Along the way, you may see animals like elk, deer, moose, and marmots, and if you’re like us, you’ll be excited every time you see one. On our visit, we made Estes Park, Colorado, our home base for two nights. When we traveled to Rocky Mountain National Park, we needed a reservation along with a park pass to enter the park, so if you are planning a trip, be sure to check if you’ll also need a reservation. You may be able to enter the park earlier or in the evening when reservations aren’t needed. Just be…

One of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World is to eat at the fun restaurants on property, and one of my family’s favorites in any park is the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This restaurant recreates a drive-in movie experience complete with a big screen and tables inside convertibles! If this doesn’t have you sold yet, I’ll explain my three reasons this restaurant ranks so high on our list! 1. The atmosphere inside Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is just plain awesome. As I explained above, the restaurant had some of the most unique theming anywhere. From the outside, it looks like nothing special. But inside, it’s like a whole other world. Most of the tables inside are in convertibles, and most of them seat six adults. If you have a smaller party, you may end up with some “hitchhikers,” but honestly, you may not…

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