A World of Vacation Adventure in the Piedmont-Triad
"USA Today" recently ran an article suggesting the under-10 set make for great travelers, what with their wide-eyed view of the world. But when it comes to less-than-independent family members, I found that the easiest part of traveling was the part during which they were strapped to car seats confined to a small space. Of course, that only worked if they had their own personal game systems and there was child-friendly music or an animated movie playing for the duration.
Some people in this world, or at least at "USA Today," feel that seeing the world through the innocent eyes of a child helps us recapture the ability to see the amazing in what our planet has to offer. The premise being that our age — and no doubt too many hours in front of screens — has a tendency to deteriorate our ability to appreciate all that is around us.
The article suggests a list of vacations parents should take with their youngsters before they, too, succumb to a dulling of the appreciative senses. For parents who are not too keen on being the parent with "the ones" on the plane that are restless and cranky or simply do not have a bottomless vacation fund, I've come up with some staycation substitutions for the list. Each is intended to be within one animated movie from home, which I found to provide the perfect duration for the crucial on-the-way-home naptime.
A Historical Vacation: Have you walked the streets of Old Salem? You will be swept away into the past. And there are lots of period events throughout the year that will amaze the whole family. Other venues that include folks dressed in period costumes and hands-on historical activities include the High Point Museum and Greensboro Historical Museum. And if you think the kids will sit long enough, Historic Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre will bring the past alive for a couple of hours.
A Volunteer Vacation: While youngsters probably cannot erect walls and install roofing on Habitat homes, they can certainly solicit donations for Habitat Restores, Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Young children can also tour local food pantries and then collect food to help stock them.
A National Park: North Carolina is chock full of National Parks. Right here in the Piedmont, we have Guilford Courthouse, a National Military Park. Of course, if you are up for a longer drive, there are the Great Smokey Mountains National Park to the west and the Wright Brother's National Memorial to the east. However, I'd recommend three to four animated features and lots of fresh batteries for the gaming systems should you be so adventurous as to make a four or five-hour trip.
Native American Ruins: Just south of Uwharrie National Forest, you can visit Town Creek Indian Mound in Mt. Gilead. The site has provided decades of archeological research and offers lots of interesting historical information as well as family-friendly events. And while they're not exactly ruins or within one DVD's time from here, heading out to Cherokee and learning about the Native Americans who stood their ground and kept possession of their land as well as their heritage is worth the trip to our state's western region.
A Foreign Country: Admittedly, this one is a little more difficult to pull off. However, with events like the Highlands Games, the Japanese Festival and the Greek Festival, just to name a few, happening all around us throughout the year, there are plenty of cultural events that can provide a flavor of countries beyond our borders. And speaking of flavors, you can always pick a different ethnic cuisine each night for a week to broaden your children's horizons. Although, I also recommend having a couple of back up grilled cheese sandwiches at the ready, just in case.
A Place with a Different Alphabet: This suggestion is an extension of the foreign country idea, so be sure to check out the written brochures and signage at the above mentioned festivals as well as menus at area restaurants.
A Beach Vacation: I believe North Carolinians have this one in the bag. But if you want a close-by day trip to a place that offers water activities, we have High Rock Lake, Julian Price Memorial Park, Lake Norman, Kerr Lake and Jordan Lake. Greensboro also offers Lake Brandt, Lake Higgins and Lake Townsend. We also have Salem Lake in Winston-Salem, Lake Lucas in Asheboro, Burlington's Lake Cammack and Lake Mackintosh. And I haven't even addressed all the rivers.
A Skill-Building Vacation: Lots of skills, such as fishing and boating, can be honed at area lakes. Participation in a local children's theatre group can also build skills in set design, costuming, singing, dancing and acting. Many volunteer situations also provide an opportunity to learn skills. If you look for teachable moments throughout your activities, any of the above staycation ideas can provide a backdrop for learning a new skill.