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Need advice for roadtrip from Chicago to Seattle

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Need advice for roadtrip from Chicago to Seattle

Old Apr 11th, 2016, 08:18 AM
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Need advice for roadtrip from Chicago to Seattle

Hello --

I will be taking my four kids on a month-long (approximately) road trip this summer, starting in Chicago and ending in Seattle. I've done a bit of research and would love to get some advice and suggestions on things that we're planning to do along the way. I've copied and pasted a high-level itinerary below - one of my goals being no more than 5 hours of driving at anyone time (for my sanity and theirs!).

My specific questions -
1. Are there other things I should add to my list of possible things to see / do in my destinations or along the way (or perhaps things I should remove)?
2. Are there any locations where I should spend more time?
3. Any suggestions about places to stay, particularly in the smaller areas?
4. Do I need to allocate more driving time?
5 - any other suggestions or recommendations would be awesome!

Chicago, IL - four days (Art Institute, Wrigley Field, 360 Chicago Observation Deck, Boat Tour, the Magnificent Mile, Theater show, Shedd Aquarium)
Des Moines, IA - 2 days (includes driving time there - Stop at Amana Colonies on the way there; Terrace Hill Governor's Mansion - what else?)
Omaha, NE - 1 day (includes driving time - Henry Doorly Zoo, Lewis and Clark Riverfront Landing and Park and Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge)
Royal, NE - 1 day (includes driving time - Ashfall Fossil Bed)
De Smet, SD - 1 day (includes driving time - Laura Ingalls Wilder's Home / Museum)
Rapid City, SD - 4 days (includes driving time - Mount Rushmore, Wildlife Loop, Custer State Park (jeep buffalo safari), Badlands (horseback riding), Crazy Horse Memorial, Reptile Gardens)
Hulett, WY - 1 day (includes drive - Devil's Tower, Black Hills)
Cody, WY - 1 day (includes drive - Buffalo Bill Museum)
Yellowstone - 4 days (includes drive - exploring, hiking)
Helena, MT - 1 day (includes drive - what to do??)
Coeur d'Alene, ID - 1 day (includes drive - what to do??)
Seattle, WA - 4 days (includes drive - Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Century Link Field (Seattle Seahawks and Sounders), water taxi, explore the waterfront (including the ferris wheel), Seattle Center (Experience Music Project, Children's Museum and Theater, etc.), Argosy Locks (water) tour, Argosy Tillicum Village Excursion)

Thank you in advance for any input, advice or suggestions you might have!

Megan
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 08:39 AM
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Quick question - are you driving back?
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 09:30 AM
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What ages are your children and if you're driving back, will you take the same route?

The Field Museum, adjacent to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, has an exhibit of the Terra Cotta Warriors through January. Another possibility is the Museum of Science and Industry.

You may also look into the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library/Museum in West Branch, Iowa, about 100 miles before you reach Des Moines.
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 01:53 PM
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Consider the Durham museum in Omaha. Kind of a train museum with traveling exhibits. It also used to have soda fountain in it (ice cream).

If you stay on 80, Lincoln has a interesting downtown: The capitol, U of Ne, and Haymarket square are all close together. The capitol bldg is awesome, the campus is beautiful and there is a neat Mamoth/natural history museum on campus. Haymarket is ok. When we have visited, we have taken in a Salt Dogs baseball game, too.
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 02:31 PM
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How old are your kids?

Between Yellowstone and Helena, you could check out the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman (great dinosaur exhibits); their T-Rex is currently on loan to the Smithsonian, though.

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park: highly decorated caverns. It takes about 2 hours to do the tour.

In Helena, you could do the Gates of the Mountains boat tour. The carousel (depending on their age). Big Dipper ice cream (good for every age!).

Couer d'Alene: you're close to an amusement and water park (Silverwood); I don't know that it would fit well with driving. You could also spend some time on the lake or rent bikes and bike the Trail of the Couer d'Alenes.

I might be tempted to cut one night from Rapid City.
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 05:59 PM
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I took a bike tour in Chicago and that was great because I really got to experience the waterfront. Depending on what age your kids are, the Mag Mile might not interest them all that much. The high end shopping is fun though. American Girl store and the ice cream place were the two places I saw the most kids.

I'd skip Shedd for the Field. Field and the AI both blow Shedd out of the water (in my opinion). But I've been to a lot of aquariums. May be worth doing if you don't have access near home.

Do you have somewhere to stay in Chicago yet?

I'd do Silverwood with 4 kids. If that or the biking doesn't appeal, I'd pick a different stop. I enjoy CDA now but found it boring as a young teen. If biking IS of interest, check out the Hiawatha trail- it's unique and you can rent bikes there. (Not in CDA, closer to Missoula).
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 06:06 PM
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Continued...

Missoula is a good stop with kids and prob. worth 2 nights. Snoqualmie Falls is a good afternoon stop right before Seattle.

Also if you had the time, I'd allocate a few days in northern Idaho. Beautiful area, best in the summer, but doing anything other than a one night stop in CDA would take at least 2 days. (I think you'd need two nights to even do Silverwood properly.)
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Old May 24th, 2016, 07:06 AM
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Thank you for all the replies, so very helpful!
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