Budget Travel just released their list of 15 places kids should see before they are 15. We’re lucky to have several of these places within driving distance – and one right here in Huntsville! If you’ve never been, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center should be on your list. It’s everything cool about NASA, rockets, space exploration, and science – all rolled into one. And they have an IMAX theater!
The Budget Travel list got me thinking about the places I’d like our kids to see before they turn 15. That’s eleven more years for Declan, but only six for Alex. We need to get a move on!
1. Tokyo, Japan – I’ve talked with Alex about visiting and he has little interest in it – he just wants to move there! Rod and I have both been to Tokyo and absolutely love it the people, the city, and the food. I’ve never felt safer in a completely unfamiliar place as I did when I was exploring the city on my own. Truth be told, we would love to move our family there, even if it’s just for a few months.
2. Schloß Neuschwanstein, Bavaria, Germany – A visit to mad King Ludwig’s castle was the highlight of the trip my high school German Club took to German-speaking European countries way back in 1994. We’d studied German every day for four years and it seemed like the many photos of this place in our classroom represented everything we learned. It’s also the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle, and you can’t go wrong with Disney references! I distinctly remember there was a TON of walking involved on this stop, so we might need to wait until the boys are a bit older for this one.
3. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco – The Golden Gate is on Budget Travel’s list, too. It’s an engineering marvel and, honestly, really cool! The boys have never seen the Pacific Ocean (or the Atlantic, come to think of it) and this would be a great stop. San Francisco seems to be a great family destination and I’m sure we could find plenty of ways to have fun!
4. Löwendenkmal, Lucerne, Switzerland – This was also a stop on the German Club trip in 1994. It hadn’t been high on my list when I saw it on our itinerary, but it should have been. This monument is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve ever seen. It was created to pay tribute to the Swiss Guards who were massacred during the French Revolution, as they protected the palace in Paris. I’m not sure the boys would really understand the significance of what the monument represents, but it’s an amazing thing to see, even without that understanding.
5. Kauai, Hawaii – I think Hawaii should be on everyone’s list! We are not a huge beach family (the fair skin makes that pretty difficult), but Rod and I enjoyed our stop in Kauai when we were on our honeymoon. As touristy as Waikiki is, Kauai is not. There are even feral chickens roaming the island as a result of some tossed chicken houses during a storm many years ago! The island is full of natural beauty – beaches, waterfalls, flowers, and birds. There was a pretty cute fabric shop we stopped at last time, too. I wouldn’t mind going back there for a visit, for sure!
6. Grand Canyon – This is one destination that everyone should see, right? I still haven’t, but hopefully I’ll get there soon! It’s only a day trip from Las Vegas, right? Maybe that would be the best way to do it?
7. New York City – Another one that everyone should see! Shortly after I graduated from college, I was relocated to New Jersey for work. My office was just outside of the city and we could see part of the skyline from our parking lot on clean air days. I was only there for about 9 months and my one regret from that time was that I didn’t take advantage of my proximity to the city more. There’s so much to see and do with kiddos, though, so I’d like to do that with Alex and Declan!
8. Smithsonian – I think all of the museums under the Smithsonian umbrella would be great for the boys to see, but I think they would especially enjoy the National Zoo, Air and Space Museum, and Natural History Museum. When I was looking at the long list of museums, I noticed the Postal Museum on there. I had no idea there was a postal museum! It says it’s dedicated to the history of America’s mail system and the hobby of stamp collecting. Did I ever tell you that I was a stamp collector? I am! This one is going on my list for me, too!
9. Niagara Falls, Ontario – We’ve actually been here a few times with the boys. It’s only a short drive to Niagara Falls from where I grew up, so we sometimes go for the day or a short stay when we visit in the summertime. (You can read about our most recent vist here.) I want the boys to remember how special and cool this place is, so I want to make sure we go back often!
10. Williamsport, PA – This one might seem like an odd addition to the list, but it’s a place that’s special to me. I went to college in Williamsport and have a lot of great memories of the city. I want the boys to be able to have a point of reference when I talk about things that happened when I was in college and maybe a memory of a visit to Lycoming will do that. Plus, it’s the home of the Little League World Series and that is one of the best sporting events in the world!
What about you? What places are on the list for your family to see? Is there anything that I should have on our list and don’t?