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  1. Default SF to Wisconsin with small kids

    We are heading out from SF to Green Bay, WI down to Chicago and back to SF. We have about 3-3.5 weeks total for this trip, including the time we are spending with friends in WI and IL. We have four small kids under the age of 9. I'm looking for a route that will provide us with plenty to see and do to break up the very long days of driving. We're more interested in national parks than touristy areas but am okay with both. Ideally I'd be able to hit Mt. Rushmore, maybe Yellowstone or some of the sights in Utah or Colorado. I'd also love ideas for easy places to stay and eat as a large family avoiding traditional fast food road trip fare.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Staying as a large family -- you might want to find places such as Springhill Suites or other suites type hotels. It might be less expensive in the long run. Quite a few places like this will be in the hotel finder on this page, or in the coupon books that you find at the visitor center as you enter each state.

    Eating as a family ... for breakfast, most hotels have a continental breakfast or full breakfast of some sort available, these days. Dinners ... when you get to each overnight, ask at the check-in desk about local places to eat. If it appeals, ask if anyone has a "kids eat free" program. For lunches, you could either carry picnic stuff or find something that looks likely. On interstates, btw, you can find restaurants of all kinds, from fast-food to sit-down places, from the chains to an occasional local mom-and-pop place.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Try both.

    There is no reason why you could not visit Yellowstone, Rushmore and surrounding area [Wind cave NP, Custer State park, Badlands etc] on the way out and then come back via I70 through Colorado and Southern Utah. [RMNP,Arches, Canyonlands Zion etc] What you can manage will depend on how much time you plan on staying with friends, as this would be 10 days of driving with the little ones to consider, plus sight seeing.

  4. #4

    Default For Kids, It's Tough To Beat South Dakota

    Yellowstone is magnificient but, at least in my opinion, is not as attractive for kids as the Black Hills/Badlands Nat'l Park area of South Dakota. Beyond Old Faithful, Yellowstone Falls and the possiblility of seeing some herds of buffalo and/or elk, I'm not sure there is to much in Yellowstone the kids would enjoy. To fully appreciate Yellowstone, you have to have an understanding of the volcanic forces that created it and the ongoing thermal activity which causes the geysers and mud pots. I'm not suggesting you skip Yellowstone - just that you devote more time to South Dakota. I would especially recommend a drive through Custer State Park starting in Keystone on the Iron Mountain Highway which is US 16A. Along the way, the kids will have the opportunity to feed some wild burros and see a herd of buffalo. There are several tunnels and some interesting "pigtail" bridges along the way and the tunnels are laid out in such a way that as you look back through them, they frame Mount Rushmore. The Needles area of Custer is a group of needle-like rock formations where you might be lucky enough to see some rock climbers. The kids might also get a kick out of the Crazy Horse Monument north of Custer. At Wall, South Dakota, you should stop at Wall Drug. I assure you this would be a high point of the trip for the kids.
    In addition to being a fun stop, it's a pretty good place to eat. You might consider over-niting in Wall and then doing Badlands the next morning. In the Badlands, the kids will get a kick out of having the opportunity to do a little rock climbing of their own.

    Between Yellowstone and the Black Hills, the kids would get a kick out of a visit to Devil's Tower Nat'l Monument. Again, with a little luck you'll see some rock climbers scaling the sheer face of the Tower. The Tower is about 35 miles north of Moorcroft, Wyoming at I-90 Exit 153.

    To break up the monotony of the trip across South Dakota, the kids might get a kick out of a stop at Mitchell to see The Corn Palace. It's a castle-like structure decorated each year with ears of corn. This decorating has been going on since the early 1900's.

    Again to break up the monotony, a stop at Falls City Park in Sioux Falls might be something the kids would enjoy. As you might expect, the falls from which the city gets it's name are located in the park.

    In Wisconsin, the kids would surely enjoy a day at Wisconsin Dells. There is every kind of entertainment imaginable for kids.

    Have A Great Trip!!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 07-05-2012 at 05:05 AM. Reason: See PM

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