Family Vacations to the Great Outdoors

December 30, 2015
Travel with Kids, USA, USA featured
How to Enjoy the Great Outdoors with Your Family

Family vacations are always a blast, but can be really hard to prepare for. It’s hard to decide what places are family friendly and that allow both the children and parents to have fun. The United States has many destinations that families love to enjoy. When most people think of family vacations in the United States, they think of Disney World or Disneyland, The Grand Canyon, Route 66, and many more. But, I have found that some of the best vacations do not involve a lot of traveling or busy schedules, but the comfort of the great outdoors.

Many people love to camp in tents, but my family always went for the camper feel. Having amenities like a restroom and a nice bed to go to every night can help keep a family happy and energetic during tiring (but fun!) days of camping. Being able to enjoy the outdoors from the safety of a camper also provides comfort to the parents knowing that they don’t have to fight off a bear in the middle of the night.

When I was younger, my grandparents used to love to travel around the United States in a camper. They would travel from coast to coast and up and down the eastern and western shoreline. With all the sights they have seen, their favorite destination that they brought me to was the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

Being able to enjoy the outdoors from the safety of a camper also provides comfort to the parents knowing that they don’t have to fight off a bear in the middle of the night.

The Great Smoky Mountains offers great mountain views, trails, and exciting outdoor activities. Along with these activities, The Great Smoky Mountains is featured in the heart of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee, which offers fun and exciting tourist attractions for the whole family.

I have always been an outdoorsy kind of girl who loves to climb over rocks and creeks and hike a lot of trails. The Great Smoky Mountains allowed me to take the time with my family during the day to find a beautiful hiking area and to see the beautiful nature that surrounded the mountains. At night, we could go into town and do fun touristy restaurants and activities.

My favorite activity is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede has been a family tradition for years in my family. The Dixie Stampede is a live dinner show that features the North versus the South during the Civil War. Because my family is originally from the North, we always sat on the north side of the arena. The arena is split down the middle with half of the arena devoted to the North and half devoted to the South.

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During the show, the guests are given a traditional Civil War meal featuring chicken, soup, and corn on the cob. While watching the show, the audience in encouraged to participate and hoot and holler along with the performers.

My favorite part of the show is when certain children are picked out of the crowd to go and chase chickens across the finish line. I was picked one year and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

When camping in the United States, remember to spend some quality time with your family, without the distractions of technology.

The Dixie Stampede offers a wonderful horse show when the North and the South compete to win the audience’s approval. Now, I won’t tell you who wins the overall Dixie Stampede because it is a wonderful experience that every family should get to enjoy!

When camping in the United States, remember to spend some quality time with your family, without the distractions of technology. Some of the best memories I have from my childhood include my family and I sitting around a bonfire eating s’mores, telling stories, and just enjoying each other’s company.

Photo credit: Matthew Paulson

About Molly OToole

AvatarI am a junior at James Madison University with a journalism major and theater minor. My dad is originally from Ireland which has provided me the opportunity to go abroad to Ireland and Scotland. I will be studying abroad in London in the spring of 2016 where I hope to visit multiple cities and countries around Europe to experience different cultures and learn more about the world!

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