Texas 2019

We took a short vacation over Memorial Day weekend to visit friends around Texas.    Our main travel group was just our immediate family: myself (35), my husband (33) and two daughters (8, 2).  We had a fair amount of downtime especially during our stay in Houston where we were just hanging out and catching up with friends.

Day 1 Travel from Evansville, IN to Grapevine, TX
George Washington Carver National Monument
Hotel: Great Wolf Lodge; Grapevine, TX

Day 2 Great Wolf Lodge
Sealife Aquarium
Hotel: Great Wolf Lodge; Grapevine, TX

Day 3 Explore Waco, TX
Waco Mammoth National Monument
Magnolia Markets
Hotel: Friends’ spare bedroom; Brookshire, TX

Day 4 Houston Zoo
Hotel: Friends’ spare bedroom; Brookshire, TX

Day 5 Big Thicket National Preserve
Hotel: Little Rock, AR

Day 6 Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Home

Southwest Trip Overview

This summer we decided to do a tour of the American Southwest.  Since the first half of the trip followed very close to Route 66, we HAD to do some traditionally roadside stops. A lot of these locations have tons of other cool things to do in the area (several of the parks could be a trip of their own) so pretty much any single day could be turned into a longer trip.  This overall trip had a lot of windshield time (over 4400 miles total) but it is very doable.  We had a large traveling party (as usual).  Total there were 10 people in our group (in two cars): my parents (ages 59), my family (34, 32, 7, 1), and my sister’s family (30, 28, 5, 2).  Also for our time in Santa Fe my older sister drove down from Colorado Springs and met us for the day with her family (41, 39, 13, 11).

Day 1 Travel from Evansville, IN to Amarillo, TX
Route 66 Stops along the route:
Uranus Missouri – St Robert, MO
World’s Largest McDonald’s – Vinita, OK
World’s Largest Totem Pole – Foyil, OK
Pops Soda Ranch – Arcaida, OK
Hotel in Amarillo, TX

Day 2 Bandelier National Monument
Hotel in Albuquerque, NM

Day 3 El Malpais National Monument
El Morro National Monument
Petrified Forest National Park
Hotel – Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ

Day 4 Standin’ on the Corner Park, Winslow, AZ
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Wupatki National Monument
Grand Canyon National Park – Desert View Entrance and Watchtower
Hotel in Tusayan, AZ

Day 5 Grand Canyon National Park – South Entrance

Day 6 Slide Rock Park
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Saguaro National Park – Tucson Mountain District
Hotel in Tucson, AZ

Day 7 Chiricahua National Monument
White Sands National Monument
Hotel in El Paso

Day 8 Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Hotel in Odessa, TX

Day 9 Medieval Times, Dallas, TX
Hotel in Arkadelphia

Day 10 Hot Spring National Park
Lambert’s Café, Sikeston, MO
Home

Day Trips

Day trips are a great way to see some really cool things near your home town.  Since they are close to home they normally won’t cost as much because you don’t have to worry about hotels.  I live in Evansville, IN which is in the Southwest Corner of the state.  Because of our location many great day trips for us might also make a good day trip if you are coming from Indianapolis, IN (3 hours Northeast), St Louis, MO (2.5 hours West), Louisville, KY (2 hours East), Cincinnati, OH (3.5 hours Northeast) or Nashville, TN (2.5 hours South).

Marengo Caves – Marengo, IN

St Louis Zoo – St Louis, MO

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial – Lincoln City, IN

O’Bannon Woods State Park – Corydon, IN

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park – Hodgenville, KY

Mammoth Cave National Park – Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World – Cave City, KY

Roadside Attractions

There is just something fun about random roadside attractions.  They are never anything big enough to plan a whole trip around but sometimes that can be a real highlight of the trip.  These are great ways to spend a couple of minutes stretching your legs, using the restroom and getting a fun picture.

Alabama

I-65 Welcome Center  – Saturn IB Rocket

Arizona

Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, AZ

Standing on the Corner Park – Winslow, AZ

Missouri

Uranus Missouri – St Robert, MO

Oklahoma

World’s Largest Totem Pole – Foyil, OK

Pop’s Soda Ranch – Arcadia, OK

South Dakota

Corn Palace – Mitchell, SD

Beaches and Bayou Overview

We took a Memorial Day week trip to the beach and then to New Orleans to experience the bayou.  We tagged along with my sister and her family for this trip so a lot of our trip was set by them (we decided we were going after they had already started booking hotels and experiences).

Travel group: Myself (34), my husband (32), our two daughters (7,1), my sister (28), my brother-in-law (30), their daughter and son (5,2).

Time of trip: Late May/Early June

Day 1 Travel Evansville to Daphne, AL

Day 2 Gulf Shores, AL
Gulf Shores Public Beaches – Gulf Place
LuLu’s Gulf Shores
Fort Morgan State Historic Site

Day 3 Travel Daphen, AL to Ocean Springs, MS
Gulf Islands National Seashore Park
Travel Ocean Springs, MS to Slidell, LA
Dr Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tours
Travel Slidell to New Orleans
Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome

Day 4 French Quarter
Jackson Square
St Louis Cathedral
Mule Carriage Tour
St Louis Cemetery No 1
New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park
Cafe Beignet
French Market
Crescent City Brewhouse
Café Du Monde

Day 5 Travel New Orleans to Vicksburg, MS
Vicksburg National Military Park
Travel Canton, MS to Memphis, TN

Day 6 Memphis Zoo
Lambert’s Café, Sikeston, MO
Travel Sikeston to Evansville

Cincinnati – March 2018

This year our daughter’s Spring Break was the week before Easter so we already had a long weekend for Good Friday.  We decided on a mini trip of just Thursday and Friday.   It gave us the best of both worlds: something fun for my daughter to look forward to on Spring Break, we only used one day of vacation and we were back home in time for Easter festivities with family.

We live at the point of Indiana (you know where it meets Kentucky and Illinois) and we wanted to pick a destination that wouldn’t mean driving all night to get there.  We settled on Cincinnati, OH since it is only about a 3.5 hour drive from home meaning we would only need to spend one night in a hotel.  Plus I hadn’t been to Cincinnati since I was a child.

There is a fair amount of things to do in the general Cincinnati area include Kings Island theme park, the Newport Aquarium, the Cincinnati museums, and several professional sports teams.  It really wouldn’t be hard to make this a location for a longer stay.

Travel group: Myself (34), my husband (32), and our two daughters (7, 1)

Time of trip: Spring Break, Late March

Day 1 Travel from Evansville to Cincinnati
William Howard Taft National Historic Site
The Root Beer Stand
Trammel Fossil Park
Hotel in Sharonville area

Day 2 Cincinnati zoo
O’Bannon State Park
Travel back Home

Houston Trip – October 2017

One of my best friends lives over a thousand miles away from my in the outskirts of Houston, TX.  When I found out her baby shower was being held the same weekend my daughter had fall break from school I knew it was a sign that we needed to make a marathon trip down there.

Travel group: Myself (33), my husband (31), and our two daughters (6, 10 months)
Time of trip: Fall break in early October

Day 1 Travel from Evansville, IN to Arkadelphia, AR

Day 2 Arkadelphia to Brookshire, TX

Day 3 Morning: Galveston Beach
Afternoon: Baby Shower
Evening – spent replacing my husband’s glasses because he lost them in the Gulf, thank God for   eyeglass stores open on Saturdays and flexible friends

Day 4 Texas Renaissance Festival
Hotel in Texarkana, AR

Day 5 Hot Springs National Park
Dinner at Lampert’s Café
Home

A couple of things to note:

  1. We had the ability to stay with friends so that helped us cut down on food and hotel expenses. We also had a fair amount of time spent just hanging out with friends.  There really is a lot of things to do in the greater Houston area, you could easily make a weeklong trip here.

South Dakota and Rocky Mountains Trip – July 2017

Every few years our family holds a big family reunion in Estes Park, CO.  When we go to the same location multiple times, we try to find new routes or activities along the way.  This time we decided to go to Colorado via South Dakota.  There is a lot to do in South Dakota.  In fact you could easily make a whole vacation out of just this state.  We had a very large travel group this time.  Our total group was 15 people: my grandparents and great-aunt (ages 75-80), my parents (ages 58), my family (33, 31, 6, 8 months), my sister’s family (29, 27, 4, 1.5) and two cousins (10, 13).  Below is our overall trip and I’ll do separate posts for each stop.

Day 1: Travel from Evansville, IN to Sioux Fall, SD

Day 2: Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, SD;  Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD;  Wall Drug in Wall, SD;  Hotel in Rapid City, SD

Day 3: Badlands National Park; Mount Rushmore National MemorialDinosaur Park in Rapid City, SD; Hotel in Rapid City, SD

Day 4: Devil’s Tower, WY; Storybook Island in Rapid City, SD; Downtown Rapid City; Hotel in Rapid City, SD

Day 5: Travel from Rapid City, SD to Estes Park, CO; Afternoon/Evening activities family time

Day 6: Group A – White Water Rafting; Group B – Estes Park Aerial Tramway;   Afternoon/Evening activities family time

Day 7: Rocky Mountain National Park; Afternoon in Estes Park

Day 8: Travel Estes Park to Lincoln, NE

Day 9: Travel Lincoln, NE to Evansville, IN

A couple of things to note:

  1. You’ll notice on this trip our evening activities once we reached Estes Park mostly revolve around hanging out with family (it’s a family reunion that’s kinda the point right?). However, if you are not meeting up with extended family there are a lot of really neat things to do in the Estes Park area check out their website https://www.visitestespark.com/ for lots of cool info.