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Family vacation with toddler - Where to?

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May 16th, 2010, 06:59 PM
  #1
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Family vacation with toddler - Where to?

I'm planning a week-long family vacation for myself, my husband, and our 3-year-old little boy. We live in central Mississippi, and we're looking to travel in September of 2010.

Any good ideas? We've been to the Gulf Coast, so maybe something else. We are looking for something relaxing, where there will be things to do but not so many things to do that we feel rushed trying to see everything.

I think he's too young for Disney (though maybe next summer . . . !), so that's out. We were thinking maybe something beachy, or perhaps the Smoky Mountains. It would be good if we could pick someplace that isn't TOO hard to get to/far away from where we live, because I'd rather avoid really long flights or drives if possible.

Ideas? We love being outside, and our toddler enjoys attractions such as science museums, pools, parks, and zoos at home. I enjoy arts, culture, and shopping, and we all love to eat. Hubs is just looking for a chance to unwind.
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May 17th, 2010, 07:19 AM
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San Diego would be great for you but you may think it's too far.
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May 17th, 2010, 07:45 AM
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Kindof a wierd isolated place. But, kids love The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. However, it is best to go in Late May or Early June as the creek runs and it is pretty amazing. You walk across the creek to get to the dunes. These are the tallest Dunes in North America and are very unusual, due to the fact they are in the middle of the Mountains. Take a 4 wheel drive and do the Medano Creek Primitive Road.

San Diego is a great suggestion.

We took our daughter twice to Disney before she was 4 and we all had a great time. So I think 3 is a fine age for Disney. Just have to know your limitations. But next year would be great to. Do either of Disney's waterparks. They are fantastic.

The best waterpark is The Schlitterbahn in Texas near San Antonio. Tons of rides for kids
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May 17th, 2010, 08:58 AM
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San Antonio is a destination we've been considering for a while. It seems like it's big enough so there's plenty to do, but not TOO big. The riverwalk looks really nice, and they appear to have tons of attractions for kids.

What about weather? If we go at the end of September, it still looks as if it'll be pretty dang hot. Will we roast out there?

Thoughts about this destination in general? We could push our trip to October for slightly cooler temperatures.
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May 17th, 2010, 09:14 AM
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I recommend San Diego over San Antonio for a few reasons, mainly - 1) the weather, and 2) I think there's much more to do with a toddler in San Diego (the San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Sea World, Legoland not too far, Balboa Park, the beach, even Disneyland if you were so inclined....; whereas, other than Schlitterbahn, I don't really know what you'd do with a toddler in San Antonio -- the Riverwalk is very nice, but it's just a pretty walk, not much to entertain a 3-year old).
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May 17th, 2010, 10:59 AM
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I totally hear you about San Diego, but I think it's farther away than we want to travel right now. Any place else you'd recommend that's a tad closer?
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May 17th, 2010, 11:17 AM
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If you do San Antonio, definately do the Schlitterbahn. You kid would love it. It is actually in New Bransfel. It is on the Travel Channel all the time. You would want to do it before it closed. I don't know when it closed, but I presume in September sometime. You child would like Six Flags, Seaworld, and the zoo. Not sure it would get much out of the riverwalk or Alamo. I would think the weather would be about the same in San Antonio as Mississippi.

Have you ever been to Branson? It's a pretty neat place. I would go to Silver Dollar City and I think the best show there is The Haygoods. Definately keep a kid entertained. If you got your tickets now, chances are you could have front row seats. Souji Tabuchi, Baldknobbers, and Pierce Arrow all rate high with me also. Generally the weather is about 10-15 degrees cooler in Branson and Silver Dollar City is well shaded. We went there often with our daughter and it was great. We still go about once a year.
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May 17th, 2010, 01:03 PM
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Perhaps you should reconsider Orlando. In September (after Labor Day), the crowds will be lighter. Ages 3 to 5 are the ideal age for Walt Disney World IMHO. As preschoolers, the characters are real and it's all very magical. Once kids hit school age and realize the characters are adults in costume, much of the magic wears off and WDW is just another theme park then.
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May 17th, 2010, 07:09 PM
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Branson sounds neat. I used to have a friend that lived there, and she raved about it. I think it definitely makes the list.

I'm going to keep San Antonio on the list, too. It just looks as though it has a little something for everyone.

Orlando - Though I'm definitely interested in taking little man there in the future, I just think he's too young for right now. We are shooting for that destination in late 2011. He'll just be 4 years old by then, and I think that age will be perfect for the park.

I like the idea of Gatlinburg, Tenn., too, but it just looks like a pain to get to. We either fly in to Knoxville (which is a one-stop flight from Jackson, Miss.), then rent a car (which we'd have to keep for the duration of the trip) and drive an hour to get there, or we drive the whole trip a grueling 8 hours plus with the baby.

Any other place in Tennessee? I love Memphis, but it doesn't strike me as a place with lots for little guys to do. What about Arkansas? It looks like they have lots of nature-based stuff going on. Anybody got a vacation they've taken there that might be appropriate for us?
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May 27th, 2010, 04:48 PM
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We took our daughter to San Antonio when she was two and we thought it was a great trip. We went to the zoo, rode the train at Brackenridge park, went to Sea World, enjoyed a Riverwalk cruise and drove through the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. http://www.wildliferanchtexas.com/ We stayed on the Riverwalk which was part of the fun for us. Many also like the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and now there is the JW Marriott Resort.
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May 27th, 2010, 05:15 PM
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Eastern PA...you could do Sesame Place, Dutch Wonderland, visit Amish country, there are great kid's museums in Philly, and there is a train out that way too.

Outer Banks of NC - just hang at the beach...I'm sure he'd have a blast.
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May 28th, 2010, 08:40 PM
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another vote for San Diego...we've gone with toddlers several times. We've stayed at Aviara (good with kids and really nice for parents); and at a beach club in La Jolla - literally on the beach, with two bedrooms and a small wading pool - that was really nice; and the best for the price was West Inn and Suites (more Carlsbad than San Diego) which included breakfast and we like the location. I've also stayed at the Hilton or Hyatt near Sea World but kids got sick that trip and I don't remember much but that we came home early.

The kids love Legoland and Seaworld. They remember seeing the pandas at the SD Zoo and riding the tram safari and seeing a lion roar (more likely a yawn) at the Wild Animal Park. We also went to the Hotel del Coronado once to eat brunch, we rented one of those 6 person bikes which was hilarious and we played at the beach. Each trip has been special.
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May 28th, 2010, 09:03 PM
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I agree that Branson, Missouri would be a good choice. Silver Dollar City is great for families. You could easily spend 3 days there--and it has lots of trees! We have been there several times and could recomnend a couple of places to stay that are out of the congested area. Plenty of shopping too; and of course, Lake Taneycomo. Another idea would be St. Louis. A wonderful large free zoo, The Magic House, The Children's Museum--and delicious food (especially on "The Hill." September is such a beautiful month in the midwest.
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May 29th, 2010, 10:18 PM
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Charleston, SC, and the surrounding barrier islands would meet all of your family's needs. You could do the Charleston Children's Museum, the SC Aquarium, Patriot's Point, and a boat trip of the harbor for your little guy, and you would LOVE the shopping (seriously, plan to bring an empty suitcase). They have nice golf, there, too, if your husband is into that (mine is). The petting zoo at Magnolia Gardens and Plantation is really nice for little kids. My son went at age 3 and absolutely loved the goats and the peacocks. He liked that more than the carriage ride in downtown (which I thought he'd love because he likes horses). Ideally, you'd stay three nights in town (I like the Elliot House Inn and the Lodge Alley Inn) and then three or four at the beach (we like Wild Dunes because it's great with kids, but Kiawah is beautiful, too). The neat thing about Charleston is that it's all there- history, culture, food, shopping, kid-fun- and you just pick what you feel like at the time. We go every year- we're hooked. Best of luck to you!
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Jun 3rd, 2010, 06:32 PM
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Oooh, Charleston does sound really fun! It makes the list, too!

I guess I'd better get to researching, selecting, and booking on this one! Time is ticking!

Thanks, guys for all of your suggestions!!
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Jun 5th, 2010, 10:49 PM
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We are headed this summer to San Antonio with our 4 kids: 15,14,10, and 1 yr old (last one is 15 mos to be exact...) Our plan is to hit Schlitterbahn (and maybe the caves with the older crew - I understand however the caves are hot and humid - not cool inside like the ones I'm used to back east!) We will stay in New Braufels for a few days, then move over to hotel in San Antonio and do the Riverwalk, historic sites, plus Sea World, Six Flags. Thought about zoo too - but have heard that the critters don't like the summer heat, so if temps stay as hot as they have been lately - we will save zoo for a fall or spring trip. We live about 4-5 hrs from San ANtonio so it's not as daunting a trip as it would be for you. In any case - I can certainly let you know afterwards our thoughts and experiences, should you still be interested in a Texas vacation!!
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Jun 9th, 2010, 05:58 PM
  #17
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gopherit - I would love that. We are looking at late September or early October, and San Antonio is at the top of our list. Thanks!
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