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  1. #1

    Default 1st Family Vacation...from Midwest to???

    Well, I am finally going to do something this summer w/ my husband and younger daughter (12). We NEVER go anywhere as a family as in a vacation. We are in St. Louis, MO and just bought a new SUV...:)
    We both work fulltime and this would have to be around my daughter's summer break from school.
    We were thinking July-August.

    Me and hubby drove to New Orleans before so we know how we are together on the road, and all very compatible...besides, there's always the Gameboy and DVDs.

    We like the road, nature, animals, photography, zoos, historic sites etc...
    Not sure where to go. We were thinking of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone...but that's all we know.

    Any ideas? We can take off about 7-10 days.

    Thanks so much for any info!!!!

    Crystal in St. Louis

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Pick a Direction

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    I think that the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone would be a bit far for a 1 week vacation from St. Louis. Either of them is a solid three day drive one-way and you'd be spending most of your time on the road for only a fleeting glimpse of those locations, wonderful as they may be. There are any number of other great destinations that are considerably closer, just pick a direction and go. Some examples:

    North - Great Lakes, Door County Wisconsin, UP of Michigan, Mackinaw, Apostle Islands

    East - Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Annapolis, Delmarva Peninsula

    Southeast - Great Smoky Mountains, Mammoth Cave, Civil War sites

    Southwest - Ozarks, San Antonio, Big Bend, Carlsbad Caverns

    Northwest - Oregon Trail, Badlands, Wind Cave, Truman sites in KC

    Quote Originally Posted by CRYROLFE
    ...besides, there's always the Gameboy and DVDs.
    This your daughter can do anytime. I would seriously hope that the adventure of your first family trip, and the beauty of the land you'll be travelling through, will make such time fillers unnecessary.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default State tourism site search

    AZ Buck gave you some great ideas!

    Personally, with only 7-10 days and little experience road-trippin', I'd contact the state tourism agencies for all the states near you. Heck, even call your own state's agency. Request their free travel guides. After they arrive pour through them and see what jumps out at you. There are so many things to see in each state and, often even in your own state, that people haven't seen that you don't always have to travel far to have an adventure.

    Anyway, as folks who don't have much experience with this and with your limited time, I wouldn't travel far. Maybe no more than 600-700 miles from home. After you've gotten this trip under your belt, if you like it, than expand your horizons next time.

    I hope that you'll return here after you've gotten some ideas so we can help you with more specifics about the area you're traveling to, routes, any other must-see things near your destination, hints on lodging, etc.

    Hope this helps!

  4. Default

    St. Louis to Yellowstone is around 1,500 miles. That's 3 hard days of driving coming and going and you would need the 10 days just to have 4 to spend in Yellowstone.

    St. Louis to Grand Canyon is also about 1,440 miles, but there is so much more to see in the area that 4 days would not be able to scratch the surface. Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, and I can go on and on.

    If you have your heart set on the west, then maybe Colorado would do. You could make Rocky Mountain National Park it's 925 miles and could be done with a 2 day drive.

    I really wouldn't consider going any farther west unless you could come up with another week or 2 for this trip.


  5. #5


    Thanks so much for the info...
    I ordered the book Road Trip USA to maybe get some ideas.
    This is a lot more work than I I wish I could narrow it down more, but since I've never been anywhere...I'm not sure where I want to go.
    Hubby loves scenery and my daughter loves animals. She would be happy going on a Zoo
    I'd like to take a trip where I can find all sorts of neat stops every few hours...not just drive forever and go camping. We have great camping areas in MO so I want to make sure it's not the same thing. My husband and daughter would love to camp anywhere, so I'm a little outvoted.
    Hopefully the book will also offer me some ideas. I'm really bad at this planning stuff. :(

  6. #6


    Hi again,
    Well, we've finally made a decision...
    We've decided to go to Wisconsin! We'd like to see the House on the Rocks, The Dells, and the Swiss Historical town that we think is in New Galaris.
    We have about ten days, and we'd leave on a Sat. after 6pm. from St. Louis, MO.
    I'm sure there are more things to see there so now I'm begining my research. There is also a Circus Museum there that sounded interesting.

    Any pointers would be wonderful!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Welcome to the Neighborhood!

    I'd say you'd made a mighty fine choice, although I may be a little bit biased, since I live about 5 miles outside of New Glarus.

    New Glarus is where the Swiss Village is, its also just a nice little town. While you are there, you should do a tour of the New Glarus Brewery, Spotted Cow is their most popular beer, but I prefer the Fat Squirrel.

    New Glarus Woods State Park is also just outside town, which offers camping, although it is one of the smallest of the Wisconsin State Parks. Yellowstone Lake State Park, just 30 miles or so away, however, is an exceptionally nice state park and is my favorite place for a quick weekend getaway. I will advise that all most every Wisconsin state park camping site gets filled up during the summer weekends, and reservations would be a very good idea if you are planning to camp.

    Along the same lines as the Swiss Village, is Stonefield, a replica of a 1900-era farming community. I remember visiting it on an elementary school field trip, and had a great time. Its also just across the street from Nelson Dewey State Park, another great place to camp on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. If you head in that direction, you can also take a ferry across the river, and be just 15 miles or so from the Field of Dreams Movie site in Iowa.

    Personally, I would avoid House on the Rock. That is another spot I visited growing up, and I was extremely disappointed. Basically my thoughts were summed up as, I could have gone through my grandmother's basement and seen the same junk, without spending $20 on a ticket.

    However, the Dells is a great area to spend a few days. Obviously, the waterparks are the biggest draw (Noah's Ark is my favorite, although they've been building so many of them lately, its hard to keep up.) but there are also lots of Mini-Golf/Go-Cart/Bungee Jump places, Duck Boat rides, and other touristy things that are a fun way to spend some time. The Circus World Museum in Baraboo is also nearby and falls into the same touristy fun category.

    As far as Zoo's go, the Milwaukee Zoo is the best one in state, although the Hendry Vilas Zoo in Madison isn't a bad place to spend a few hours. If you do visit Madison, I'd try to take a tour of the State Capitol Building, and visit either the state historical museum or the childrens museum, both which are right by the capitol building.

    Finally, if you haven't stopped yet, I'd highly recommend visiting the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, IL. I spent several hours there on the way back from my last trip to St. Louis and was very impressed.

    That's if for now, I'll let you digest all of those ideas. But certainly let me know if you've got questions.
    Last edited by Quebec Gen; 04-16-2006 at 07:02 PM. Reason: typo

  8. #8


    Thanks so much!!!

    I've been doing a lot of surfing around Wis. sites...
    So far narrowed it down to
    some camping (this is mostly to save money...unless I find affordable motels) and maybe fishing.
    The jet boat tours look pretty cool.
    We would like to go horseback riding on some trails...found 3 different places for that.
    We have to see the House on the Rock since my mother-in-law
    The Circus Museum.
    Has anyone been to the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum?
    Or this train ride?
    Black Bart's Stagecoach

    We have Six Flags here in the area, and they have an awesome not too interested in that.

    There's some Mustard museum there...weird.

    Thanks again!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Cut the Mustard

    Ah, the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum a classic example of something I've walked by a million times but I've never actually stopped in. I'm going to have to make a point of visiting it one of these days.

    For camping and fishing, I'd recommend staying at Governor Dodge State Park. It is a nice park, with 2 lakes, and a swimming beach and is within 30 minutes of Mount Horeb, New Glarus, and House on the Rock in Spring Green.

    I haven't done the train ride or the Ripley's Museum, but they certainly look interesting. I do think you will like the Dells, because there are lots of things along these lines thoughout the town. In addition to the jet boats, I'm pretty sure I've seen parasailing around the Dells, although, I haven't actually done it myself.

  10. #10


    Good choice on coming to Wisconsin. As for not seeing the House on the Rock, I am not sure. I have been there several times and enjoyed it each time. It is a very good way to chew up one whole day, though as it does take quite a long time to get through it and its all on foot, to boot, so anyone not up for an all day hike should probably skip it. The choices of things to see and do in the Dells can be overwhelming so plan to spend a couple of days, there. I would recommend the magic show(the name of the guy slips my fading mind at the moment), its a lot of fun to watch, although a bit pricey for my tastes.

    All in all, have fun and most of all watch out for deer and other critters that run rampant on the highways and biways of Wisconsin.

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