where else to go for vacation other than Disney?

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by mjmartin01, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. mjmartin01

    mjmartin01 Mouseketeer

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    Thinking about not going to Disney next summer :blush: Where else would a 8 year old girl and 5 year old boy have fun? I've only researched walt disney world so I have no idea what else is out there. :rotfl: Is there anything fun for them to do on the East coast (like Virginia or North Carolina)
    I've never been to the East Coast.

    Thanks
     
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  3. Fyrefly

    Fyrefly Mouseketeer

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    There are literally thousands of places to go that aren't WDW. My family did awesome trips every year and I'm 24 - I've only been to Disney once with my family and once with college friends.

    You're going to have to be more specific than east coast. Are you looking for theme parks? Are you nature people? Do you like educational stuff? Museums? What are your hobbies and interests and those of your kids?

    My family often builds trips around national parks because we love scenery and photography. My mom and I both love animals so we try to see places with cool wildlife or famous zoos. Since high school I've had a bit of a fascination with old prisons. So we do a wild west trip recently that hits all of that.

    Give some specifics and I'm sure that I and a bunch of other people can help. ;)
     
  4. mm1971

    mm1971 DIS Veteran

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    The Outer Banks of the Carolina's is relaxing and beautiful if you are looking for a place with great beaches.

    I'm not sure what you mean by fun.

    If you can be more specific as to what you are looking for, I may have a few more suggestions.
     
  5. mjmartin01

    mjmartin01 Mouseketeer

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    yes sorry I should have been more specific. We enjoy animals, nature, zoos, theme parks and beaches. Not sure if the 5 year old would be able to go on a lot of the rides at a theme park (roller coaster wise) but we would like to try different theme parks .


    Thanks
     
  6. Fyrefly

    Fyrefly Mouseketeer

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    Okay, well from my area the Maryland Zoo at Baltimore is very very good. The National Zoo in DC is free but I don't think it has as nice a collection personally, the only thing it has over the Baltimore one is pandas. The Baltimore Zoo also has a fantastic children's zoo, very interactive - farm animals to pet, lillypads to jump on, kid-sized bird's nest to crawl into, etc.

    The Baltimore Aquarium is probably the best in the country to be honest. There's probably a few people from other cities who MIGHT contest that but it really is phenomenal. The Science Center is also very good for kids, super interactive, and there's Port Discovery, also popular with kids, especially ten and under. DC has the Smithsonians as well, if you think that is something you'd be interested in.

    If you want to hit those zoos you could spend some time in the Baltimore/DC region then drive east into one of the beach towns (Ocean City is always popular but a lot of locals also go to Rehobeth or Bethany in Delaware) for some beach time. You could also look into Assateague Island state park.
     
  7. mjmartin01

    mjmartin01 Mouseketeer

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    Thank you Fyrefly for all that info. I am dying to check out washington DC but don't think that would really interest the kids yet ;)
     
  8. EagleScout

    EagleScout Mouseketeer

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    in NC - which you asked specifically - as another poster mentioned, Outer Banks/NagsHead area has great beaches, and also is location of Kitty Hawk (Wright Brothers), so some historical stuff. Also, that are is general location of "Lost Colony" (in addition to Plymouth, MA, another group of British people came to NC area and basically "vanished") - historically there has been a neat outdoor play about their history.

    in Va - there is historical Williamsburg, which is a "recreated" colonial-era town with blacksmith, etc., and there is also a Busch Gardens amusement park there. As a kid, starting when I was 5 or 6 (I was the youngest), our family drove to Williamsburg from Ohio at least 4 or 5 times, and always enjoyed it. There is also Virginia Beach - a bit less "glamorous" than in past, but still quite nice. There is also Monticello (Thomas Jefferson estate) and Mount Vernon (Washington estate).

    One quick warning about Baltimore - although the "inner harbor" area is nice (which is location of aquarium), be forewarned if you attend during any sort of holiday weekend, etc. The aquarium will likely be so crowded that you will literally be lucky to view one or two exhibits of the entire aquarium - most of the time you will be packed four or five deep in wall-to-wall people of essentially "bumper-to-bumper" pedestrian traffic as you trudge through the aquarium, and at best will see the fish, etc. that might be swimming near the very top edge of a window that you peer as you look over the four-or-five deep rows of people.

    NJ- this may sound odd for a family, but Atlantic City can be a great family vacation. We will often go for a four-day stay or so. If you stay right on the Boardwalk (where the "action" is), particularly during the week (weekends sometimes a bit more expensive, but less so since the recession), there are GREAT BEACHES right there, and lots of activities, and surprisingly many families, particularly as you head for the mid/southern Boardwalk casino-hotels (Ballys/Caesars/Trump Plaza/Tropicana). One of the piers is a mini-amusement park with a few rides, and there is also an aquarium- which is MUCH smaller than Baltimore's, but is typically never crowded so what is there, is easily accessible. There is great outlet shopping, and a lighthouse you can climb (a good workout), and lots of "atmosphere" - the Boardwalk is sort of like Niagara Falls/Gatlinburg, with the little shops, restaurants, etc., and the casinos themselves have lots of good food options from fast food up to high-end gourmet. Other than aquarium and lighthouse, you can park your car and never use it (and often we will just cab to aquarium to avoid any driving)
     
  9. trewin

    trewin Mouseketeer

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    My family goes to North Myrtle Beach almost every year! We never get sick of it. There are different shopping areas, you can rent jet skis, go fishing, relax on the beach, goto dinner shows, I *think* a water park somewhere, then mini golf of course! Literally, there is something for everyone!
    I'm not going to lie- my 5 year old would pass up a trip to Disney in a heartbeat to spend a week in Myrtle w/ our family! :)
     
  10. Fyrefly

    Fyrefly Mouseketeer

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    Depends on the kids - we've always been a museum family. The five year old is a bit young but by eight I was pretty well set in them. I would suggest trying a kid's museum or something close to home and see how they do. Learning never hurts! :thumbsup2
     
  11. EagleScout

    EagleScout Mouseketeer

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    And to be clear about AC, our son is currently 3 (and has been going every summer since an infant), and to my shock, he even likes AC better than Disney (which is saying ALOT) - likely due to beaches, which he loves. Last summer we also were joined by our godson and his family (mom, dad, and boys ages 5 and 7). Much to their parents' surprise (they grew up in NJ and remember AC when it was less "cleaned up"), their sons LOVED it and were begging to go again this summer. Asking if "Eagle" and "Eaglet" (as it were) are going again, and if they could join us. There are also often shows/sporting events/etc. going on at "Boardwalk Hall" (the indoor arena right near boardwalk), which also can be fun events, depending on what it is (Harlem Globetrotters, Basketball, etc).
     
  12. Sinderelly

    Sinderelly Princess

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    Disney cruise! :thumbsup2
     
  13. mjmartin01

    mjmartin01 Mouseketeer

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    hubby WILL NOT go on a cruise ;)


    I will check into AC also. That sounds like fun. It should be cleaned up by the time we go (at least I hope it will be)
     
  14. rockchick04

    rockchick04 Earning My Ears

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    Atlantis, Bahamas. One of our favorites. :)
     
  15. EagleScout

    EagleScout Mouseketeer

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    To be clear, when I was referring to "clean up" of AC, I was referring to "big picture." Decades ago, it was a bit "colorful" (some would say slightly seedy), but at least for the past 10 years, probably closer to 15 years now, the "main areas" are clean, family-friendly, etc. There is basically a "Fat T" shaped zone (makes more sense if you see a map) running from Train station/convention center- through the whole outlet shopping area, and then the "cross" of the T is the Boardwalk/beach. Going South on the Boardwalk, the casinos/Boardwalk actually change from Atlantic City into Ventnor and then Margate, which are upscale vacation communities that are almost exclusively families, with mansions right on the beach (similar to Hamptons). Going the other way on the Boardwalk, the "family-safe" area used to end just at (or before) Trump Taj Mahal - which is also where the Steel Pier amusement park is located, but now extends all the way to the brand new multi-BILLION dollar Revel casino. There are tons of cops, hotel security (who are not bound by Constitutional limitations), and "plain clothes" security (both police and hotel). There is then sort of a "no mans land" at the "elbow" of the Boardwalk after the Revel, until you get to the area immediately surrounding the aquarium, which is also very clean and safe. (Regardless of safety issues, would also be a LONG walk to aquarium, but would definitely not to make that walk with children- if all grown men, I might consider it, but would still be a LONG haul.) Regarding Hurricane Sandy cleanup, that is all basically complete. The casinos have all been repaired, etc., and all restaurants re-opened, etc.

    I have no vested economic interest in the AC casino industry. Just a NY'er (originally Ohioan) who likes to see families have a good time. Have a great time whatever you choose.
     
  16. shoney

    shoney DIS Veteran

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    If you want the east coast....

    Williamsburg for theme park, water park and colonial williamsburg. Jamestown is also very nearby

    Washington DC for a short stay with kids...my boys loved the zoo, air and space museum, spy museum, white house tour (just being in the white house was exciting the tour was not!). they thought the monument tour was boring! They were 10 and 12 at the time.

    Ocean City Maryland is fun. Beach, Boardwalk, amusement rides, games, etc.

    We took our kids down to Mexico twice...Dreams Riviera Cancun and Barcelo Maya Palace. they LOVED both vacations! The all inclusive aspect makes it soooo relaxing and fun!
     
  17. mjmartin01

    mjmartin01 Mouseketeer

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    rockchick - it's funny you say atlantis, bahamas...dh just mentioned that he would like to go there ;) so I will have to look into that. :thumbsup2
     
  18. Robbi

    Robbi DIS Veteran

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    My kids used to love the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. They enjoyed Dollywood but really liked the caves in Chattanooga and the Lost Sea.
     
  19. hsmamato2

    hsmamato2 <font color=magenta>Tink in Training-Good Girl,Bad

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    this is true....wdw is a (lovely) theme park,there's an entire world out there to visit.....
     
  20. trinchick

    trinchick Mouseketeer

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    We went to Williamsburg last summer and had a great vacation with our kids (then ages 7 and 1). We rented a timeshare unit so had a kitchen and separate bedrooms. Busch Gardens was great, and we also went to Water Country. DD is a huge history buff and really enjoyed Colonial Williamsburg. We also stopped at Mount Vernon on our way down to VA, and we all liked that.

    Have you thought about Boston? I'm biased because I live here, but there is lots for families to do in the area. There's the whole Freedom Trail, the Aquarium, and the Children's Museum. Within driving distance are the beaches of Cape Cod as well as Cape Ann. Newport and the mansions also make a good day trip while you're in the area.

    We've also had many, many great trips to Amish Country in Pennsylvania. Love the farms, buggy rides, Strasburg Railroad, etc. Great amusement parks nearby, too (Hershey, Dutch Wonderland, Knoebels). Also, Gettysburg is close for a dose of history and the chance to tour Pres Eisenhower's house. Philadelphia is an hour or so away, with Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross's house. There's major league baseball with the Phillies in Philadelphia, as well as the Lancaster Barnstormers minor league team right in Lancaster. A fun family night.

    Over spring break, we're going to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. Cute villages, museums, nature walks. Striking distance to Cooperstown and FDR's house in Hyde Park, NY for day trips.

    DD8 is clamoring to go Washington, DC. I think she'd love it but our 2yo isn't ready, so we're going to save that one for a couple of years.

    This summer we'll be traveling to Prince Edward Island and renting a cottage. On the drive up, we'll stop at the Bay of Fundy for a couple of days to walk on the ocean floor, and then the rest of the trip will be spent enjoying the beaches, lighthouses, fresh seafood, and the land of Anne of Green Gables. On the way back we may stop at Campobello to tour FDR's summer home (I have a thing for presidential houses).

    Have a great trip! When I'm planning, I always try to remind myself that the goal is to come up with 10 pleasant days. They don't need to be full or exciting; we just need to have time together that everyone can enjoy.

    Editing to add: We've also done the all inclusive thing in Punta Cana a couple of times and the kids have had a blast! We didn't even bother with excursions; there was tons to do at the resorts and we loved just hanging out together on the beach making sand castles and swimming in the beautiful, clear, warm water.
     
  21. lost*in*cyberspace

    lost*in*cyberspace DIS Veteran

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    Your question is so open ended that it's pretty hard to answer. However, if you are interested in the east coast, I suggest considering Boston. Tons of fun things to do for all ages and it's easy to get around using the T (subway system).
     

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