Family Vacations

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The weather is still warm and it remains a good time to take the family on a vacation. It may be for a weekend or two weeks. Wherever you go, you need to pace your driving to stop frequently for the kids at rest stops or service stations with facilities. This is also a good time to replenish their drinks and to walk about for a couple minutes.

Plan about two hours of driving time, then a break. If the trip involves overnights, pack each child’s clothing needs in their own backpack or bag. It’s easier to keep each child’s belongings in separate bags. Bring coloring books and crayons, games, toys, activity sets and whatever else keeps them occupied during the driving hours.

At lunch time, plan to stop at fast food eateries that offer kids’ activities such as McDonald’s and Burger King.

You may want to plan outdoor picnics. The kids love this. If one or more of the children are very young, it’s worth it to bring a training potty.

Where to go and what to do?

How about Sedona with its beautiful rock formations and striking colors? Good restaurants, fast flowing stream running through town, and much more.

Prescott has many exciting locations for young people. There is the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary showcasing live native and exotic animals. The Prescott Gateway Mall is always fun and indoors cool. Outdoors is a shopping village as well.

The Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott features a wonderful collection of items found in homes and on ranches in the late 1890s. Most interesting.

Nearby is Verde Valley where the young ones can horseback ride the trails or visit Out of Africa Wildlife Park. They offer a Tiger Splash show at 1:15 p.m. daily.

Nearby is the interesting town of Jerome. The kids will enjoy roaming the streets with you as you view storefronts of antique shops, ice cream parlors, hobby shops and everything is old, Arizona Western in feel and look.

Not far away is Williams and the starting point for the Grand Canyon Railway that offers packages that include one or two nights at the hotel in Williams plus a one-day rail ride to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and return to Williams. The train is former 1950s stainless steel cars from the streamlined era of U.S. railroading. There are several classes of service to purchase. There is coach, first class, Vista Dome, and the club car at the end of the train.

The train departs at 10:30 a.m. from Williams, arrives at the canyon at 12:15 p.m. and gives you time to sightsee and have lunch before boarding the train again at 3:30 p.m. for the train return to Williams, arriving there at 5:45 p.m. The children will love this trip and so will you.

If you drive directly to the South Rim stop at the IMAX Theatre in Grand Canyon Village and see the 40-minute beautiful film of the canyon using the IMAX system. It is breathtaking!

Another interesting train ride is the Verde Valley scenic railway. It is not far from Payson and offers the entire family a lot of fun and adventure. It departs early afternoon and returns to Clarkdale mid-afternoon.

Flagstaff is always interesting. You will have to explain the meaning of Route 66 to the young ones. The main street of this city was Route 66 and you will find a selection of stores featuring Route 66 memorabilia.

And, after Sedona, why not take the family on a ride through Oak Creek Canyon reaching Flagstaff about 40 minutes later. This is one of the more beautiful rides in Arizona and everyone in the family will enjoy the remarkable views of this narrow, pine tree-lined canyon with the creek running through it.

Farther away from home are the wonderful attractions for the entire family in Southern California. There is Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland and others the young people will remember all their lives. These theme parks are rather expensive, so you need to check them out on the Internet to obtain times and admission prices. They vary.

In Florida you’ll find Disneyworld, and the Harry Potter theme park filled with wizardry the whole family will enjoy. There is also Universal Orlando theme park. While down there, take them all in.

Recently a poll showed that Glenwood Springs, Colo. was picked as the “Most Fun Town.” Who took the poll? I don’t know, but regardless the kids will enjoy this affordable place for hot springs pools, the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, the Giant Canyon Swing, the Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves plus a Whitewater River Park, a Zipline Adventure across the Colorado River and whitewater rafting.

If you don’t wish to do a lot of driving, select a family friendly resort here in Arizona or elsewhere. You’ll find many on the Internet. One or two will meet your vacation desires and budget.

One resort for the family is Atlantis in the Bahamas. This is a mega resort that is not inexpensive, but loaded with family fun.

Closer to home are the White Mountains. Not only are they close, they are beautiful and affordable. Here you will find hotels, cabins and camping grounds. It’s high, cool and beautiful.

Another nice one-day outing: load the kids in the car and drive south on Highway 87 turning southeast on the Bush Highway to Saguaro Lake. There are tour boat rides in the afternoon and you will completely enjoy the adventure.

We have so much to enjoy right here in Arizona you only have to drive out of town and begin your beautiful drive. Have fun!

Clarification

In his “Exploring Nevada” article posted Aug. 10, 2011, Ken Brooks highlighted the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, stating it was the largest National Wildlife Range in America. Actually, Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge touches the northeastern border of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, which is the largest refuge in the lower 48 states.

At 1.6 million acres, Desert NWR is second in size in the U.S. to the refuges in Alaska.

I appreciate Mr. Brooks mentioning Pahranagat NWR, and I encourage him to learn more about the national wildlife refuges in southern Nevada at http://www.fws.gov/desertcomplex/

Thank you,

Dan Balduini, Public Affairs Officer

US Fish & Wildlife Service

Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex

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