When I’m traveling on my own or with family, I always learn something. That’s part of the thrill for me.
In an era where politics and history are playing an important role, why not fold the notion into your travel planning.
Here are a few places where you and your clan can learn about some of the people and events that shaped our nation.
Mount Rushmore, SD -
Tucked within the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is among the more famous monuments in the country. The whole family will
enjoy seeing the faces of four of the most important presidents -George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln -ever to hold the office, carved into rock for the ages. Hiking, biking, wildlife and other tourist sites are nearby.
Contact: www. www.nps.gov/moru/; 1 (800) 732-5682.
Monticello, the mountaintop home of Thomas Jefferson is the only home in America on the elite World Heritage List of the United Nations. There are numerous tours available including one designed for children ages 6 to 11. The 30-minute tours feature hands-on opportunities and a glimpse of what life was like for the children who lived at Monticello in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Contact: www.Monticello.org; 1(434) 984-9822.
In this historical city, known as the birthplace of democracy, the whole family can stand on the ground where the Liberty Bell first tolled and the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed. Visit Independence Hall, see the famous bell, George Washington’s chair, and check out the Betsy Ross house. Take in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Constitution Center.
Contact: www.philadelphiausa.travel; (215)636-3300.
Stop by for the Peanut Festival and get to know the town made famous by former President Jimmy Carter. Visit his boyhood farm, shop for antiques and learn about his Nobel Prize winning programs. Ride the SAM shortline excursion train.
Contact: www.PlainsGeorgia.com; (229) 824-5373.
Hyannis, MA – With miles of beautiful beaches and bike paths to explore, visitors will enjoy this community known by many as home to the Kennedy family, a clan famous for decades of political involvement. The picturesque coastal haven served as the backdrop for the now famous images of President John F. Kennedy sailing the local waters with his young family. Contact: www.Hyannis.com; 1 (877) 492-6647.
Diving boards and the deep end have been replaced by slippery slides, raging waterfalls and lazy rivers. Today’s resort pools and water parks offer enough excitement to keep the kids engaged for a weekend or longer. Here are a few cool pools worth the plunge:
Grand Wailea Resort, Maui, Hawaii.This island haven may be most famous for its beaches, but don’t pass up the chance to explore what this resort has to offer. The whole family will be eager to check out the 25,700 square foot area that includes nine free form pools. Travel via a “river” to check out the slides, waterfalls, caves, water elevator, swim up bar, rope swing and more that are part of this water wonderland. The tropical 40 acre resort also includes an infant pool.(800)888-6100;www.GrandWailea.com
Fairmont Scottsdale. Scottsdale, AZ. With the magnificent McDowell Mountains as a backdrop, families relish this oasis in the desert. By day, keep cool within the 6000 square foot Sonoran Splash complex, featuring a zero deck area for the youngest set. Kids wade right into the water, just like at the beach. Nearby a large sandbox with Tonka trucks and a bounty of beach toys beckon, keeping the kids entertained. Have fun slipping down two of Arizona’s largest slides. Come nightfall, enjoy dive-in movies from deck chairs or while floating on your raft. Contact: 1(866) 540-4495; www.Fairmont.com
Atlantis Resort. Paradise Island, Bahamas. With more than 141 acres of water rides and pools, who has time to hit the beach? From the Mayan Temple to the ominous Power Tower to fun-filled Splashers Island, water play lovers will find 18 adrenaline-pulsing slides for kids of all ages. Ride the waves and rapids in the Current. Lounge around your choice of 11 different pools. Twist and turn through tunnels and emerge in an acrylic tube deep within a shark-filled lagoon. The thrills never end in this water-filled fantasy park. Contact: 1-888-877-7525; www.Atlantis.com.
Marriott World Center, Orlando, FL. Think 1,000,000 gallons of cool water. That’s what you’ll find at this Orlando resort where indoor pools, outdoor pools, whirlpools, waterfalls and a 106 foot slide make for an enticing recreation area. Pool side fun includes sidewalk chalk, ping pong and pool tables, limbo contests and scavenger hunts. Lounge on deck or join in a game of water volleyball. Contact:(800) 380-7931; www.marriottworldcenter.com
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, TX. Float through the resort’s beautifully landscaped grounds aboard a trusty inner tube, making your way 950 feet along the Ramblin’ River. Stop by the activity pool and join in a game of water volley ball or basketball. Or make it a beach day and settle on the private, sandy man-made beach. Lounge on the sundeck before heading to the golf course or an afternoon at the spa. Grown-ups can enjoy the Texas-shaped adults only pool, while the kids take advantage of Camp Hyatt activities or teen-focused Underground events. Contact: 1-888-591-1234; hillcountry.hyatt.com.