When your family is ready to explore the great outdoors beyond your own backyard and neighborhood, here are resources you can use to help choose a location and plan your trip:
1. Federal Parks
The one-stop resource for information on national parks is www.recreation.gov. Search by park, activity or state, find out all the amenities and make reservations — all online.
2. State Parks
Enter the term “state parks” in any search engine for a list of Web sites.
3. Private Campgrounds
Many private campgrounds are available across the country, and you can find by state through the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds online at www.gocampingamerica.com.
4. Outdoor Retailers
REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, Bass Pro Shops and other national outdoor retailers offer information and have trained personnel in their stores. If you are new to the outdoors, they can recommend the right equipment and help with other outdoor needs. Their Web sites feature sections dedicated to adventure travel, family trips and information on choosing the right equipment. LLBean.com offers a state park locator.
5. Web Sites
For information on every kind of outdoor activity and the best places around the world to experience them, visit www.gorp.com. At www.Searchtheoutdoors.com you’ll find a directory of articles and resources on outdoor topics.
6. Convention and Visitors Bureaus
If you know the state or general area you want to visit, look up the Convention and Visitors Bureau in that area to have information mailed to you.
7. Friends and Relatives
Travel and tourism statistics show that most people get the inside scoop on vacations from their friends and relatives. Make sure you ask the people you know about their best and worst experiences. Get and share ideas from other members of online communities such as www.greenhour.org.
8. Trip Planners
If you belong to AAA or other similar groups, utilize their free services. At www.freetrip.com and www.RandyMcNally.com you fill in your starting point, destination, route preferences and other details to create an itinerary.
9. Travel Agents
Outdoor travel packages are very popular. Talk to a travel agent to find out what deals they can find for your family.
Don’t forget to check with your local librarian for other books, articles or online resources.
Jennifer Woodford works with DeHavilland Associates, an educational consulting firm.