Traveling with the Grandkids - and not a Game Boy in Sight!
We recently returned from a trip with two of our many grandchildren to San Diego. We have a tradition of the "48 inch Trip". It started with the older ones to Disneyland when they were 48" tall and could go on the big rides. It was a highly anticipated event! Now the kids have all been there multiple times, so we're started looking for alternative destinations.
San Diego was great. We stayed at The Dana on Mission Bay http://thedana.reachlocal.net/; an older property that has been completely renovated and was a perfect location right on the water.
In four days we went to Sea World (http://4adventure.com/SWC/default.aspx), Legoland (http://www.lego.com/eng/legoland/default.asp )(about 45 minutes from San Diego), the San Diego Zoo (http://www.sandiegozoo.org/zoo/index.html ) , and had a day at the beach and playing in and around Mission Bay (http://www.a-zsandiegobeaches.com/missionbay.htm) -- a sternwheeler ride from the neighboring Bahia Resort Hotel (http://www.bahiahotel.com/) , paddle boats on the bay and swimming at the motel.
We let the kids set the pace - which is just short of "running" for weary grandparents. We let them choose what to do and where to go next - with some gentle guidance on why they may want to change the order of something, or go to one exhibit earlier than another. We have found that taking cousins, rather than siblings, is a good idea. They get to know each other better and there is less chance of "sibling rivalry" and arguing!
We all had a ball.
Have a blast - take a whole bunch!
Another set of grandparents and ourselves took 11 (yes, eleven!) grandchildren white water rafting (http://www.mckenzierafting.com/) for a day and spending the night at a hotel with a large hot springs pool (Belknap Hot Springs Resort http://www.belknaphotsprings.com/index.htm ). This is our third year doing this, and the younger grandchildren in both families can hardly wait until they get old enough to go (minimum age is 5). In our two previous years we took them to Crater Lake/Wildlife Safari and by train to Astoria, Oregon and Fort Clatsop where Lewis and Clark wintered over in 1806.
Be a teacher along the way
One of the features of these trips is the learning experience that we weave into it. On the Lewis and Clark trip, we read a good story book on the train with lots of pictures about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, so that when we arrived, everyone understood what we were looking at. A funny side note to that was the "aha" moment that the grandkids all had when we read about Charbonneau and Sacajawea. The community that both sets of grandparents live in is called Charbonneau -- suddenly they all knew the connection of the word Charbonneau to its historical roots! On the return train trip, we read the rest of the book about Lewis & Clark's return trip to St. Louis after they left their encampment at Ft. Clatsop.
On the Crater Lake & Wildlife safari trip, we assigned each child an
animal that we would see at the park (http://www.wildlifesafari.org/) . At our pizza party at our motel the night before going to the park, each child had to give an oral report about their animal -- including the two 5 year olds! They groused all day about having to do their reports -- they tried everything to get out of it -- but everyone really had a good time, once they got into it. The parents had made sure they came prepared! The older ones helped the younger ones, they asked questions of each other, they acted silly at some points -- but it was a great experience that they still talk about. Oh, and they each had to bring a "fun fact" about Crater Lake (http://www.nps.gov/crla/) which we shared at lunch sitting on the rim of the lake of that beautiful National Park.
This year, we were more creative. We had a "Best River Rat Hat" contest that was judged by the river guides. Each child worked hard coming up with their own creative River Rat Hat. They also had an age appropriate question to research either about river rafting or the origin of hot springs.
So, you see there are many things that you can come up with either close to home, or farther away. I have ideas for the next several years of trips as the grandkids from these two families eagerly await our next destination each year.
And the "48 inch trip" kids? There are two more that are measuring weekly to see who gets to the required height first!