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  1. Default Rhode Island to Washington State

    We are headed West in June. We have a few places that we plan on stopping (Sesame Place, Hershey & Omaha Zoo) We are looking for other places to stop with our two young boys 3 years and 7 months old. We have 10-12 days to make it to Washington.

    We have some places on our "maybe" list:

    1880 train - in Hill City, SD
    Ft. Wayne Indiana Children's Zoo
    Wall Drug

    Any info on the above places? We are looking for good places to use as pit stops. Or any good rest areas with good parks along I-80 & I-90.

    Any suggestions would be great!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Scaling it Down

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The thing to keep in mind as you plan this trip is that the infant will remember none of it, and the toddler will remember only bits and pieces. So you should not be aiming to create a grand adventure, but rather just an enjoyable few days that will be nice for them and not terribly wearing on you. They will get as much out of short visits to local parks near the highways as from several stops at big amusement parks which will tend to overload them (and drain your wallet) at any event. Try to keep the driving to a minimum and stop often during the day after no more than a couple of hours at most in the car.

    With more time out of the car, you'll have to make the most of your time in the car, so you should minimize detours that will take you down side roads and/or through high traffic areas. That means skipping places like New York and Chicago (fortunately), and Yellowstone (unfortunately). A suggested route would be to take I-84 out of Hartford all the way to Scranton and then use I-81 down into the Harrisburg/Hershey area. That avoids New York for the most part and is a generally scenic route. Then use I-70 to Indianapolis, then I-74 up to the Quad Cities and I-80. From Omaha, I-29 will take you up to I-90 and thusly across South Dakota. There are a number of great sites in the Rapid City area, so you might want to consider taking a day off the road there to see some of them: Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Wind and Jewel Caves, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Devils Tower. Wall Drug is a kitschy place that your three year old might love, if not there's no harm done - it's just off the Interstate and admission (and the glass of water) is free. I-90 will take you all the way to Seattle.

    If you stick to such a more-or-less direct route, you'll only have to average about 325 miles a day to get to your destination in the time you have available, including a day or two of no driving whatsoever. Children's zoos and children's museums are relatively common in many American cities, so you should aim to find the ones along the best (and safest) route rather than altering your route to get to specific ones.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-25-2014 at 06:39 AM. Reason: Fixed link

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I'm with AZBuck -- your kids are not at the point where they will remember any of this. Running around in a free park will be just as good, if not better, for them than expensive parks. Zoos are wonderful, and great ideas. I'd pick the better ones, too.

    But since you asked: "1880 Train, Hill City, SD, is at 222 Railroad Ave. One of America's last steam trains still in service, it features old Baldwin steam locomotives and 19th century coaches. Visitors may take 2-hour round trips along a scenic route that early minters and pioneers used to explore the Black Hills. Guides narrate the ride with a historical perspective. The 1880 Train was used in the filming of TV's Gunsmoke series, the made-for-TV movie Orphan Train and Steven Spiel burg's Into the West. Trains depart from Hill City and Keystone several times daily, early May to early Oct. Round trip fare $28 adults, $12 (ages 3-12). Phone ahead to confirm rates, reservations are recommended."

    Wall Drug at Wall, SD: "Wall is perhaps best known as the home of the famous, block-long Wall Drug Store. In 1936, the owners of this small-town pharmacy, Ted and Dorothy Hustead, came up with an ingenious marketing campaign. Realizing that travelers going through the hot-dusty prairie would be thirsty, they put up signs along the highway offering free ice water. Tourists have been stopping here ever since." I remember stopping here when I was a little girl, in 1967. I haven't been back since, but my husband made this a regular stop when he was trucking -- great place to look around, stretch his legs, and get his free ice water.

    Another place not on your list, but one that your 3-year-old might love, is Dinosaur Park, Rapid City. This is just a big park with about 5 life-size statues of dinosaurs. My mom remembers these from when she was a little girl, and she and my dad took us when my brother and I were small. (Same trip with the stop at Wall Drug.) These were so cool!


  4. Default

    Thank you both so much. I read your replies to my husband and we both agreed that skipping Yellowstone would probably not be that big of a disappointment. We move every 3-4 years so we can always stop there next time.
    We planned on Sesame Place since military get free admission once a year. :) I really do want to do the Omaha Zoo though. I grew up in Kansas and had Grandparents in Nebraska but in 32 years we never went to the zoo. I have heard it is amazing.
    Dinosaur Park sounds great. I think my toddler would love it.
    I have been trying to plan stops that are close to doggy daycares. We will be traveling with our black lab and we want to make sure she has somewhere safe to be while we are enjoying our stops.
    I think I will start over with our route and see what I can come up with.
    Thank you again!

  5. Default Keeping dogs cool????

    We are entertaining the idea of towing my mini van with our truck for our cross country move this summer. If we decide to do this our lab would ride in the bed of the truck - the bed has a cap on it- However there is no pass through between the cap and the truck so there is no way to get cold air to her.

    The cap has two long windows on either side with screens. So we can keep those open to allow wind and air circulation. I am just not sure that would be enough.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how we could keep her cool?

    I was thinking battery operated fans on each screen to bring in the air. Would that work?

    If we cannot find a way to keep her cool we will end up shipping the truck. Just hoping not to since it will cost us a fortune.

    Moderator Note: Please keep all questions about this trip in the same thread.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-09-2014 at 10:57 AM. Reason: merged threads

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Would it be possible to drive both vehicles? Sightseeing with a towed rig like that can be a hassle. I'm sure the gas for the second vehicle would be cheaper than either shipping it or having it driven. That way, the dog can ride inside one of the vehicles.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default That's right.

    That was my spontaneous suggestion too. Why not drive both vehicles. It just makes sense. Rather than 'following' one another, make two hourly stops to catch up. It could be as simple as arranging to meet at a given rest area along the highway.

    If you really get separated, I am sure you both have your mobile phones. It is so easy these days. We live in such a great decade.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Been there, done that, driving two vehicles across country. Actually, have done it a couple of times. These days, either Family Radios or cell phones make it easier. (Family radios do need AAA or AA batteries, but most can be left "on" for longer conversations.)

    We used to ride a dog in the bed of a pickup. She got plenty of air, but she was a big dog in a big cage. (Lab.)


  9. Default

    We have thought about that but we have a toddler & infant and it is much easier to travel with 2 adults in the van to help when the kids need whatever. We are planning on shipping my husbands truck. However it is 3/4 ton pick up and it is proving hard to find a transport company that wants to ship it.

    On another note - John Deere factory in Moline, IL - thoughts? It looks like a fun place to stop and let the kids out.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I haven't done the actual factory tour, but the Pavilion is a nice place to check out for a little while.

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