View Full Version : Where should we go for summer vacation?

04-20-2006, 03:21 PM
Ok, here's the deal. We were supposed to be going to Israel on a group trip from our synagogue, but they weren't able to get enough people together and had to cancel the trip. That trip was going to cost an obscene amount of money (14K). Now that we won't be doing that, we want to use the opportunity to take a more reasonably priced trip but we can't decide where to go. We would prefer to drive and would like to reach our destination in either one day, or maybe part-way into a 2nd day, so that gives us a range of about 600-800 miles from the Philadelphia area. We don't want to head south from here and can't travel east as we'll run into the ocean in about an hour. That leaves north and west. We've done Boston and Springfield, Mass. as well as the Hartford area. We've done Niagara Falls. DW and I have done Pittsburgh and NE Ohio regions including Cleveland area.

Ideas we are considering: Montreal, Indianapolis, northern New England (Vermont, NH, Maine). But we're open to suggestions. We are city folks and enjoy exploring metropolitan areas: shopping, museums, galleries, historic sites, etc. But we love visiting nature areas too - just not as the focus of the trip. Last summer, for example, we spent a couple of days in Sequoia National Park and loved every minute of it, but probably would have been bored if we had spent another day there. Of course, a great amusement park nearby is always a plus. We've never been to Cedar Point, so heading up that way is also a possibility. Finally, we've thought about hitting Mall of America, but we would fly if we did that.

So what do you think? Any brilliant ideas for us?

04-20-2006, 03:30 PM
If you are willing to drive as far as northern New England, how about Nova Scotia? I confess I have not been yet but its on my list!! Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are also possibilities for you to think about but I found getting a reservation on the ferry to be a major pain as well as waiting in the terminal to board.

Your idea about Montreal is a good one - my friend is planning a trip there in the Fall and I can ask him for more ideas. Rachael Ray did a "$40 a Day" episode there as well as in Portland, ME.

You don't like the idea of heading south? Is it because of the heat? I imagine you have already checked out D.C. and N.Y.C.?

I forgot about Cape Cod. I spent my summers on Delmarva as a child and Cape Cod pales in comparison, despite the fact its much closer to where I live now. But, people seem to love it!

04-20-2006, 03:33 PM
We are city folks and enjoy exploring metropolitan areas: shopping, museums, galleries, historic sites, etc.

Have you been to Chicago? Lots of great museums & shopping (expensive in the city, but you can always window shop :) ). They have a CityPass for sale at CostCo (& elsewhere) that covers admission to 5 attractions: Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry & Omnimax,
Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum & Sky Theater Show, and
The Hancock Observatory & Sky Tour. All of these attractions are great.

Also, less than an hour north of Chicago is Six Flags Theme Park (sixflags.com), which has giant roller coasters and just added a huge waterpark last year. Down the block from Six Flags is a huge outlet mall (gurneemills.com).

04-20-2006, 03:35 PM
You don't like the idea of heading south? Is it because of the heat? I imagine you have already checked out D.C. and N.Y.C.?
South is out partly because of the weather. Atlanta is on our things to do list but I'm not sure that August is when we want to do it. Also, DW said she doesn't want to go down 95 again. We drive to Disney every fall and she wants to see some different scenery.

04-20-2006, 03:36 PM
How about Chicago with a side trip to WI Dells? Lots of museums & shopping there. I don't know the distance but know it's 14 hrs to Chicago & we're in NOVA. We went to the WI State Fair last year & had a great time. Definitely a different affair for our suburban kids & lots of fun. I've never been to the Dells but have heard great things about the water park hotels. Again, not sure of distances but the State Fair was probably 2 hours away from Chicago.

04-20-2006, 03:37 PM
Have you been to Chicago?
No, we haven't. I just checked and that is listed as 790 miles from Philly, so that is a defnite possibility. I'm sure we could find plenty to do out there.

Julia M
04-20-2006, 03:46 PM
We were in Minneapolis last summer for a few days and enjoyed it. Mall of America is really cool.....my daughter and her friend (age 11) loved it. The science museum is fun, and there were lots of other things we didn't have time to do. About an hour and a half drive away is a Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead (is your daughter into that?)

I assume, based on where you live, that you've been to Gettysburg/Lancaster/Hershey area? That would be a week or more just to see that area. We LOVED Gettysburg, and there are a number of NPS programs to do. There is a Boyd's Bear Place that we spent 1/2 a day, and I could have stayed longer, with dd! If you haven't been that would be my first suggestion! :cool1: :cool1: :cool1:


04-20-2006, 03:54 PM
Mackinac Island, Michigan. Approx 13 hours from Philly, approx 900 miles.

Maybe take a day or two to stop at Cedar Point on the way up to the Island?

DVC Sadie
04-20-2006, 03:58 PM
San Francisco is a great city. Hawaii would be a great trip too. Just wanted to throw out a couple of places we love. Since you enjoy the city atmosphere Honolulu is a great place to visit and walk.

Also wanted to throw New Orleans into the hat. Walking through the French Quarter, Audubon zoo, taking a steam boat ride up the Mississippi River, walking the Riverwalk, all the great eating establishments, and last but not least all of the great places to hear Jazz or Zydeco music. Oh yeah, almost forgot riding the trolley down St. Charles Avenue is a lot of fun.

Edited to add: Sorry about mentioning NOLA due to your post about the heat and humidity.

04-20-2006, 04:12 PM
Oh Steve...just splurge and spend a week at the Grand Floridian. You could split your time between the pool and getting spa treatments! :thumbsup2

04-20-2006, 04:30 PM
You could split your time between the pool and getting spa treatments!
We would both go out of our minds if forced to do that :rotfl2: It is so not us.

And yes, DD will be with us. I forgot to put a price tag on this trip. I'm not exactly sure how long the trip will be. Depends on what we decide to do and how accomodating DW's job is. So let's say 10 days and a budget of up to $5,000. I can't imagine we'd spend that much if there is no plane travel involved, though. Probably more in the $3,000 range realistically. That would give us roughly $100/day for hotel, $100 for food and $100 for activities.

04-20-2006, 04:43 PM
Don't know if your daughter was ever into Anne of Green Gables. Prince Edward Island is a great place to visit in August, but not any real city life like Montreal or Chicago.

04-20-2006, 04:45 PM
I second the Chicago suggestion. So much to do and see, wonderful restaurants.

I haven't been, but my Dad raved about Nova Scotia.

04-20-2006, 04:47 PM
Chicago will have the King Tutt Treasures at the Field .

04-20-2006, 04:58 PM
Just adding to my Chicago plug:

Wicked is currently playing in Chicago. I took DD12 & she loved it (so did I). My kids also enjoyed Blue Man Group which is also still playing.

Also, if your DD is into it, the American Girl Store is there. They have a luncheon & a show, but even if you skip those, the store itself is interesting.

There are also 2 zoos near the city. One is free, except for parking, and it is closer to the city. The other is a bit farther away.

The Cubs & Sox if you're into sports. Wrigley Field is a great ballpark. The Sox - World Champs.

04-20-2006, 04:58 PM
If I may be excused for bragging about my hometown, Chicago is a great place to visit! There are SO many wonderful museums--the basics like the Field Museum of Natural History, The Art Insititue of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium--and some of the ones less travelled like the DuSable Museum of African-American History, the Chicago Historical Society, the Oriental Institute of Chicago, The Hull House Museum and on and on.

There are some amazing architecture tours, beautiful galleries, and some real sights to see within an hours drive in the suburbs. There are the Chicago Botanic Gardens, Morton Arboretum, the Frank Lloyd Wright Houses in Oak Park, and wonderful outdoor concerts at Ravinia in Highland Park.

Cedar Point is about 6 hours from Chicago and would not be a hard stop on the way in or out. The Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point is lovely, and they just put in another brand new property with an enormous indoor waterpark that looks amazing. I will say that Cedar Point in season is NOT cheap, but it is a great park if you're roller coaster people. With respect to Universal, I still say Cedar Point is at the forefront of the bigger, higher, faster type of innovation.

Before anyone mentioned Chicago, the first thing that popped into my head for you was DC--they have everything you mentioned in abundance! Is that too far South?

04-20-2006, 06:03 PM
OK, now you guys have me drooling to go to Chicago. Probably, won't happen, I owe a trip to my brother in NYC first.

I would avoid south Louisiana during the entire summer if I were you guys. I wish I could.

04-20-2006, 06:14 PM
How about Cincinnati, Ohio? There is Kings Island Amusement Park and water park, the Cincinnati Zoo, baseball games, concerts, anything a city has to offer, and right across the river is the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky. :thumbsup2

04-20-2006, 06:14 PM
Come to Rhode Island. We have beaches (less crowded and easier to get to than the Cape), history, city life, country life and great restaurants (see my profile. :lmao: ) We're only a 5-7 hour drive from NJ.

Providence has come into it's own and you haven't seen sepctacular until you've seen "Waterfire".


04-20-2006, 06:18 PM
A vote for Cedar Point and the Lake Erie Islands. It is beautiful and the Point is a lot of fun if you are an adventurer.

04-20-2006, 06:19 PM
Have you checked into the new Disney Destinations? Here's a link:


I might also suggest a cruise. : )

04-20-2006, 06:35 PM
How about Quebec (city)? Wonderful city that doesn't really "feel" like any other. You could combine it with Montreal and have a real variety of adventures!
If you wanted a more extensive driving trip - start in Detroit and do Greenfield Village / Henry Ford Museum, then up to Mackinac Island, across to Toronto (good zoo, very international city), and last on to Montreal and Quebec. You'd want at least 2 weeks, more if possible. Did a trip similar to this many years ago and it's still one of my favorite vacations mainly because we saw and did so many different things, but could go at whatever pace we felt like.

04-20-2006, 07:52 PM
I might also suggest a cruise.
We love to cruise, but we've kind of had our fill of the Caribbean for now. Our next cruise will probably be Alaska or Europe, both of which would be a little more involved than we were looking for on this trip.

Thanks to everyone who mentioned Chicago. I think that may be the winner. I'll head over to AAA and get the latest travel guide and do some research online.

04-20-2006, 08:15 PM
Let me encourage you to cross the border and visit beautiful Nova Scotia! :wave2: You can spend a little time in the capital city of Halifax, a small city with lots of cultural things to do, and then do the drive to Cape Breton, my neck of the woods. The Cabot Trail is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world! There is lots of natural beauty, history, beaches, and activities. Here are a few useful links http://novascotia.com/en/home/default.aspx or http://destination-ns.com/ or http://www.cbisland.com/index.php. You could also visit Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables) for a few days. Hope you consider visiting us--we are known for our hospitality!

04-20-2006, 11:02 PM
Williamsburg and Virginia Beach? I have always wanted to see that area, but haven't yet. Of course..... the free dining plan at WDW starts in august (the 13th). So, that is what I would probably do!!! :bitelip:

04-20-2006, 11:42 PM
If you do not like heat & humidity, I would not recommend any parts of VA or DC in August!! Ick, just thinking about it makes me want to turn on the AC.

There is also the Pier in Chicago & we enjoyed the water taxi across a piece of the lake. Though it's pretty hot there too in August. Have fun planning!