One of my favorite stories my parents have told me over the years is that of their friend Mr. Hyatt and his trip to “Carowinds” with his two young boys.
Back in the day (many of you remember this I am sure), there was a Hardee’s at I-77 and Nations Ford Rd with one of the greatest outdoor playgrounds in Charlotte – well, this is what we thought. This was before every shopping center had a Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s with a play land and every birthday party included a bouncy house. Well, Mr. Hyatt took his two young boys to that Hardee’s on the way to Carowinds because he was a bit too tight to spend all that money on the Carowinds admission AND food (I am totally that parent now). He let the boys play on the outdoor playground, and when they got tired of it, they said they were tired of Carowinds and were ready to go home.
A light bulb went off in Mr. Hyatt’s head. His boys thought the Hardee’s playground was Carowinds. Well, he took it and ran with it. He totally used their innocence to his advantage – he packed ’em up and headed home without ever riding a roller coaster. He saved himself about $100 probably – if not more – and the boys were none the wiser until they grew up and understood what they missed.
Smart man, huh?
I love and appreciate that story so much more as a parent. Sometimes schedules, budgets, and circumstances just don’t allow much family travel. I had big Spring Break travel plans conjured up in my head this year – maybe the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, San Diego, or Disney, perhaps? Spring Break starts tomorrow for my big kids and guess where we’re going? Um, none of those places.
I’m a little envious (OK, a lot envious) of all those Facebook friend check-ins in fabulous places, but I’ve decided to learn a little something from good ol’ Mr. Hyatt this year. Just because we’re in the QC, and just because I’ve got four kids – one of whom still naps (this was one of the negatives in our travel plans) – doesn’t mean we can’t have some F-U-N.
I’ve conjured up a list of “grand” destinations and what local or day-trip excursions could be substituted. We’re not going to lie to our kids (really, we can’t – three out of four can read), but just because we’re not spending a ton on airfare, hotels, food, and souvenirs doesn’t mean the kids can’t learn something and have some new experiences. Plus, if it all goes downhill – think ear infections, stomach bugs, and the general moodiness that usually accompanies one child on a family vacation – the safety of home is just a quick car ride away.
So here it goes:
Hiking in the Blue Ridge Parkway = Climbing the rocks at the creek between the pond at Freedom Park and the Nature Museum
Safari trip to Africa = Lazy 5 Ranch
Georgia Aquarium = Discovery Place first floor
Strolling through San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter and eating authentic Mexican = Strolling through the streets of NoDa and eating at Cabo Fish Tacos
James K. Polk’s House
Centennial Park in Atlanta = Latta Splash Park in Dilworth
Atlantis in the Bahamas = Great Wolf Lodge (they sell beer so you can pretend you’re at a fancy resort)
Great Wolf Lodge (because let’s face it, GWL isn’t cheap with four kids!) = Harris Y’s indoor pool
Broadway show = any Children’s Theater production
Disney World = Carowinds
Carowinds (again, four k$$$$ds) = Plaza Fiesta
Bungee jumping over the Snake River in Idaho = Sky High
Florida’s Gulf Coast = Lake Wylie’s Windjammer Park (yes, this is a stretch, but there’s sand and water – in fact, I think I’ll play Zac Brown Band’s “Toes” while I watch the kids build sand castles)
Exploring Ape Cave in Washington state = Linville Caverns
Skiing in Brekenridge = Beech Mountain skiing
Buckingham Palace = Biltmore Estate
The National Air and Space Museum in DC = Carolinas Aviation Museum
Cruise around the Caribbean = a cruise around Lake Norman on the Catawba Queen
Gettsyburg = Ramsour’s Mill
Braving the Colorado rapids = The NC Whitewater Center
Rafting in Colorado
I really want to hear your ideas – I would love more Spring Break destinations! What’s on your Spring Breakin’ in the QC list?