As many of you know, we are rasing our grandkids, a girl, just turned 11 and a boy, 7. We have NEVER actually gone on any kind of a vacation anywhere special with the kids.
Weekends or day trips yes, but a real vacation, no. With the first family we were just too broke, and thus far with the littles haven't had the opportunity.
We HATE amusement parks and they actually aren't into Disney etc. Sooo that's out. (YAY)
We love zoos and museums and dinosaurs. We've never been to the ocean.
Has anyone done any kind of dinosaur digs/camps etc? or should we do the Smithsonian or another good museum? I'm looking for ideas not more than 600 miles from Buffalo. We will drive.
Oh, I am disabled so handicapped access is a must.
Life is GOOD!!
Kathy, What you are thinking about doing is definitely a "holiday" ~ guess we in the US have began to talk about holidays in one way as opposed to vacations but, really, they are the same.
I love the fact that you are considering taking a trip, an adventure with your dh and two grandchildren, a girl age 11 and boy age 7 ~ perfect ages for their first time out in the world ~ I'm excited for all of you!
I love planning travel (I'm not a professional so no advertising here); just a couple of questions? How many days and what would your budget be for the entire trip, including lodging, meals and entertainment? Driving is a wonderful way to go, handicapped access should be no problem (but it is good to know in advance) and also the interests of museums and dinosaurs!
Okay, out to see what wonderful adventures you and the family might have within 600 miles from Buffalo....
Kathy, just did a quick check and found out that you have a premier dinosaur museum right there in your back yard ~ the Buffalo Museum of Science at 1020 Humboldt Parkway in Buffalo. You've probably already been there a number of times but, if not, it would make a great day trip or even a weekend.
But, I think you are expecting more than a local trip for your holiday with the grands so, as much as the 7 year old is excited about dinosaurs, he will be even more excited about seeing the ocean and a few museums between there and Buffalo.
Looks like the best route takes you right through Boston ~ talk about museums !!! ~ and ones 11 and 7 year olds will like ~ 3 days over, one night on the ocean and 3 days back using a different path should make for a memorable experience for all of you.
Well we have the ocean but no dinosaurs! However I bet the science museum in Boston has! And of course the science museum in NYC where you can see the ocean and the sights and the excitement.
I think the Staten Island ferry is free and there is the statue of liberty etc.
Wash DC is wonderful too and the Smithsonian is free (I believe all museums in D.C. are) My sister goes there with her grandson and stays at a red roof inn that is very reasonable.
mmmm getting ideas here .. I need to call AAA (can you believe the closest office to us is nearly 100 MILES away?) I've told you we're in the boonies.
Maybe a guide book to Boston, NYC and DC?
Life is GOOD!!
I don't have any recommendations of places to visit but I thought you should know there have been a lot of changes because of the Americans with Disabilities Act. "New rules went into effect March 15, 2011. Compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design was permitted as of September 15, 2010, but not required until March 15, 2012." http://www.ada.gov/ada_req_ta.htm
When you call AAA ask about ADA compliant accommodations and places to visit. I would expect the types of places you want to visit would be in compliance but you should check first.
Thanks Still Tryin, My disabilities are mild, mostly I need a handicapped parking space, and I usually rent a scooter at zoos etc.
Learned the hard way when we stayed in a hotel in canada with no elevators and we were technically on the first floor but there were multiple 2 and 3 step entrances to various areas of the hotel..
Which reminds me you need to RESERVE those zoo scooters!
Life is GOOD!!
Your trip with the Grandkids sounds wonderful. We always pack a car cooler with water, yogurt, cheese, etc so we don't have take lengthy stops.
A quick sandwich or snack at the rest stop and back on the road.
You should ask AAA to mail the info packs to you. Most of all have fun!
~Like sands through the hourglass
~So are the days of our lives
Tentative decisions have been made.
We are going to Chicago. BY TRAIN!!!
The plan (at the moment) is to take Amtrak from Buffalo to Chicago then get a hotel somewhere along the major MetroRail Route to the North or west suburbs. We lived there for many years, the kids were born there and Mark's mother is still living there.
We will buy City Passes which will allow us to see 5 big things for less than half price each.. The 5 can include the Shedd, The Field Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Sky Deck at the Willis Tower, and the Adler Planetarium or the Art Institute.
Dinosaurs and the stars... oh wow.. and an inland sea.
Mark and I are comfortable with the idea of public transportation, and not driving places. as long as we can take a taxi from the train to the hotel. We can take the kids to the public beach, and the Lincoln Park Zoo is free.
We drove to Chicago last year and totaled our rental car when we hit a bear less than an hour from home...!! I just don't want to do the drive again.
We talked to the kids in a very general way and they both agreed that if it were up to them they would go to Chicago for a vacation given several choices... They just don't realize they WERE given several choices. LOL
Now for the nitty gritty plannning.
Life is GOOD!!
Kathy ~ two or three thumbs up ~ wait, I only have 2 but wanted to tell up that your latest idea is a great idea! Train travel can be great and utilizing other forms of mass transportation will make it even easier and better!
Sounds like you have some destinations in mind ~ Chicago is a wonderful place to visit and it sounds like the kids might have a connection to it as well so go for it!
Depending on the kids, might be fun to get them each an inexpensive small note/memo book to write daily notes in. A couple of the glue sticks and small scissors to stick in ticket stubs or cut out pictures from brochures where they visited?
We did this while in Paris, and was kind of fun to collect small things to augment the memories of the day.
One of the big banks offers their customers free admission to museums on certain days of the month. Check the website of Bank of America.
The city has (free) volunteers that will show you around, using the transportation system etc.
May want to plan your trip with them.
72 E. Randolph, Chicago, IL (The Loop)
OOOh thanks Nance. We got the visitors packet from the travel and convention people already, but I will look into the greeters too.
Life is GOOD!!
lots of stops...and what I usually did was to have 2 trip/tik's made... one for us and one for the kids. know gps is the way to go but learning to read a map is a lovely way to get some math, and reading in!!
great idea. we are HUGE map fans. DH teaches history and GEOGRAPHY.. so we have a huge collection of maps. the kids are very good with them. our 7 year old loves to draw maps.
(we don't own any kind of gps thing)
I was born with this weird vectoring ability, have never gotten lost in my life (except in Buffalo, where I ALWAYS get lost..?)
Life is GOOD!!
Kathy, we loved our train trip from NYC to Chicago! The food was so good! It took us overnight and we each had a roomette with a toilet and sink but across from each other.
We went to Calif and I would not hesitate to do it again.
Never used a GPS in our travels through the years and all seven continents and hope we never will! I do realize it is easier and blah, blah, blah but what fun is that? Many of our most favorite memories came about because we were lost...
Well, the kids are ready to go back to school and I finally have time to write about our trip.
First off, just let me say "WOW!" We had so much fun, every bit of it was just wonderful.
We took Amtrak from Buffalo (Depew) to Chicago leaving a little before 1 a.m. and arriving in Union Station around 1030 a.m. Chicago time. The kids slept well the entire time.. Yay for dramamine.. I dozed, and DH can sleep through anything.
It was a comedy of errors stashing our luggage.. The lockers are all computerized so of course they don't work. Why NOT just continue to use old fashioned keys in locks?
We walked over to Willis Tower (Sears Tower) and went up to the Skydeck and had a blast looking out over the city. As it happened the Air Show was going on right then so we had a great vntage point to see some aerobatics and skywriting.
After the Tower, we hopped on the Double Decker Trolly and took a 2 hour tour of the major highlights of downtown Chicago. The kids actually seemed impressed with the buildings and the guide's patter.
We got a 3 day hop on hop off ticket which let us use the trolley to get to almost all the attractions we wanted to see.
(You have to realize these kids have NEVER seen a revolving door or escalator! or a building more than 4 stories high.)
After that we retrieved or luggage and hiked over to the other train station to take a commuter train to our hotel.
The hotel was about 4 blocks from the station, not hard to get to at all. We stumbled in, unpacked, ate snacks and fell deep asleep til about 730 the next morning.
We took the CTA downtown, caught the trolley again and got off at the Field Museum. ...6 hours later...we emerged blinking in the sun..
oh how wonderful the Field is.. We even got to see the exhibit of the Caves of Lascaux, just awesome, which of course DH teaches about.
Back again to Evanston, and had dinner at a nice little Greek owned coffee shop, just the kind of place I worked at and met DH in 40 years ago.
Tuesday we repeated our trip downtown, this time going to the Adler Planetarium and the to the Shedd Aquarium. The kids and DH would be perfectly happy to repeat the whole trip again, seeing nothing but the Shedd.
I can't say enough good about the Shedd. a full day doesn't begin to be enough time, AND the food available there is excellent.
Sadly, the Adler tries to be all things to all people, and to me anyway, kind of misses the point of being a planetarium. It is also VERY difficult to get around.
We returned to the hotel and this time ordered pizza in.. (really excellent pizza)
Wednesday was very hot and humid and I was in a lot of discomfort after 3 solid days of walking so we stayed at the hotel. let the kids swim and we just rested. We ate breakfast there, swam, read on the pool deck, ate leftover Pizza for lunch, then around 6 walked over to the same Greek coffee shop for dinner.
Thursday we gathered up our luggage and headed for the station. I figured..naively that I'd just pick up our tickets there, and then we'd go on to the Museum of Science and Industry...
there is 1 train between NY and Buffalo each day, the Lake Shore Limited. There were only 3 seats avaiable.
The ticket agent was a lovely woman who moved heven and earth and somehow.. someway, got us ON that train. We sent a long and detailed letter of praise for her to Amtrak.
We got down to the Museum of Science and Industry and stayed til after it closed!!.
We got back to the train station with 2 hours to spare and DH got into a long and fascinating conversation with a young PhD candidate in history (DH's field.)
The trip home was smooth and quick and we were back in our own house around 1 p.m.
I can't say how much we enjoyed this trip. But not just because of the places, but because of the kindness and pleasantness of the people we met.
The CTA workers and Amtrak personel especially went out of their way repeatedly to assist us, to explain things and to make certain we got where we needed to go.
Life is GOOD!!
What a great trip. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.
Sounds like you packed alot of sightseeing in and had a great time. Just curious at your remark that the kids had never seen an escalator, revolving door before. That sounds so incredible to me, but I would have loved to see their eyes as they took in all the sights and sounds of a city.
We live in a tiny rural village. The nearest "city" is Buffalo or Rochester, both about 100 miles on bad country roads.
We don't go to malls..nearest is at least 75 miles away. I guess the Gallaria in Buffalo has escalators, but the kids have never been.
I can't think of a revolving door within 300 miles!
There is a small city 40 miles from us that has a 4 storey building in it. I am serious the kids really hadn't seen so many things before.
They WERE impressed.
Life is GOOD!!
Oh, my. They'll be on your case continually now for another trip!! I'm so glad you all enjoyed the trip. Sounds wonderful.
Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.
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