3 Cool Fall Vacations that Won’t Break the Bank

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3 cool fall vacations that wont break the bank

Taking a Fall vacation may be the better option for many people- they’re cheaper, they have less of a chance of being overbooked, and you may have more time off work to actually enjoy one. If you are looking for a great fall vacation that won’t break the bank, check out one of these cool options and get to enjoying your time off.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park USA

Utah has five national parks and Capitol Reef is the least known — which means it is the least visited. Which also equates to it being the least expensive! If you have ever wanted to see the natural beauty of Utah and get away for a few days, this is the best option for your money.

Book a room at the Lodge at Red River Ranch and enjoy its 2,000 acres of open pastures and beautiful rivers. When you get there, spend an extra $5 for a week long pass to the nearby 3,100-tree orchard, where the cherries, apricots, peaches, and pears are yours to pick at your liking.

While at Capitol Reef, enjoy climbing and hiking, stargazing, and an outdoor concert series by Utah Symphony (in August).

Fredericksburg, Texas

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Did you know Texas is the fifth largest producer of wine in the country?

If that lone isn’t a reason to get you to Fredericksburg- which boasts the award-winning Pedernales Cellars – maybe you’d like to visit the city for its authentic German charm. The Roadrunner Inn is cheap and nice, and it sits close to authentic local food. The Marburger Orchard is close by, as well, and allows you to pick your own peaches.

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After all the food and wine, take a walk along the Enchanted Rock or the Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park to enjoy a quiet evening under the stars. For the person looking for a relaxing getaway that won’t demand too much attention, time, stress, or money, this is perfect for you.

Burlington, Vermont

Lake Champlain

If you really love Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, this is the place to be — since it is the headquarters! But there’s more to see than just that in this quaint little town. This town is chic, rustic, and eco-friendly. Check out the Hotel Vermont for great lodging at a fair price, or go a little cheaper and stay at the famed The Little Place Guest House.

For a great dinner (that may be a bit of a splurge) many people recommend the Hen of the Wood, or check out a smaller restaurant along the main strip. After you eat, take a bike ride or a walk along the Island Line Trail. Be sure to visit Lake Champlain and the Shelburne Farms. Enjoy the walking trails and handcrafted cheddar, fresh milk, and event the classes on sheep shearing.

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Educational Trips in Charlotte, North Carolina

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Charlotte, North Carolina is filled with educational activities that you can enjoy with your whole family. Rich in history, Charlotte is a cutting edge city and a financial powerhouse. Despite the shiny new exterior, Charlotte is filled with good old fashion southern charm. Inside the beltline, you can find museums, green spaces and cultural events year round. Within an hour from the city center, you can find everything from NASCAR garages to real live gold and emerald mines. Because of this, Charlotte makes a great place to visit for a homeschooling family.

Whether your children love history or science, there is something here for everyone. While you are enjoying your trip to Charlotte, you can fit in some important homeschooling lessons as well. Here are just a few suggestions for places to visit and learn while you are in the Queen City.

Lessons in Science

Discovery Place Museum

The Discovery Place Museum is the perfect place for curious kids who love to find out how things work. Unlike other museums where kids can just look, the Discovery Place is one of those rare museums that kids can actually touch. Kids from 3 to 99 can participate in the activities from water play to physics. The activities are so much fun, your kids won’t even realize that they are educational. For the little ones, they will love the aquarium, rainforest and the Kid Science areas where activities are geared towards growing minds and bodies. Older kids will love exhibits like “Cool Stuff” where they can do activities from lying on a bed of nails to crushing garbage cans with their sheer strength.

Tip: The Discovery Place participates in the ASTC Passport Program. If you have a membership to a science center you can gain free admission to the museum with your reciprocal membership.

Lessons in History

Carolinas Aviation Museum

North Carolina is rich in aviation history and it’s on full display at the Carolinas Aviation Museum. The Wright Brothers, two bicycle repairmen, on a beach in Kitty Hawk made North Carolina the “first in flight”. Since then, the Carolinas have been instrumental in the aviation industry. When you step foot in the museum, you can learn about not only the people who made air travel what it is today, but you can also learn about the science of aviation. Inside the building you can see many different types of aircraft from the “Miracle on the Hudson” airplane to the one that started it all. The Wright Flyer is proudly on display for everyone to see how far travel has come in the last century.

Tip: The museum is not air conditioned, so if you are visiting in the summer, you may want to go early in the day before the southern heat kicks in.

Historic Rosedale Plantation

Nestled in the heart of Charlotte, lies the Rosedale Plantation. It’s a peek back into the 1800’s and what it was like in a real Plantation in the south. Built in 1815, Rosedale is one of Charlotte’s best kept secrets. For the kids, the plantation offers a peek into life in the south in the early 1800’s. You can take a tour of the residence and room by room view exactly what the plantation looked like and how its residents lived over two hundred years ago. Rosedale is home to six trees on the property that are listed as historic treasures. For $1 you can buy a Treasure Hunt Booklet and you can find and identify these trees. It also explains why they are so special. It’s a great activity for kids involving nature and history.

Tip: Tours at Rosedale Plantation are Friday, Saturday and Sundays, but if you would like to take a group of 15 or more, you can make reservations for other times.

Lessons in Nature

Charlotte Nature Museum

For kids that love nature and all of the creatures that live there, a trip to the Charlotte Nature Museum is a perfect place to spend the day. There is an outdoor exhibit “Go Wild” where kids can explore nature. The outdoor exhibit allows the full sensory experience as well as working their critical thinking, creativity and problem solving skills. There is also a Butterfly Pavilion where kids can walk among the butterflies, which is a once in a lifetime experience. Other exhibits like Creature Cavern (wild animals native to NC), Insect Alley, and Peetie’s Place (a parent-child activity center) will help you teach your little learners all about the great outdoors.

Tip: The Charlotte Nature Museum is geared towards children 3-7. Make sure that you check their event calendar before visiting as they host some really great kid events throughout the year.

McDowell Nature Center and Preserve

The McDowell Nature Center and Preserve is over a thousand acres of forest filled with wildlife, nature trails, playgrounds and picnic areas.  You can visit the nature center located at the entrance where you can pick up information about some of the wildlife. Taking a trip to the McDowell Preserve can offer a respite from the city and also can teach kids about nature. You can engage the kids in a nature scavenger hunt or take along a guidebook so you can identify the plant species.

Tip: Make sure to visit Copperhead Island where they have boating, fishing and primitive camping.

The best time to visit Charlotte is in the spring and early summer. Temperatures can reach in the 70’s and 80’s and it’s a welcome break for those of you who live in chilly climates. Southern hospitality is always in full force here and you will find the residents will be more than happy to tell you their favorite spot in the city or direct you to their favorite barbecue joint. Above are just a few places that would provide your kids with a valuable learning experience when visiting Charlotte. You can get more ideas by downloading a free visitors guide from Charlottes Got Alot.

What’s your favorite educational activity in or around Charlotte? Share with us in the comments below!

 

 

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7 Fun and Unique Finds in Nature

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We recently took our “Northern Adventures” homeschool trip where the colors were absolutely breath taking.  During our trip in the great outdoors with absolutely mild and wonderful weather (the following week they got their very first snowfall, yikes) I gave the girls a unique assignment that really ended up resulting way better than expected.

I told the girls to hunt around for things in nature that you normally wouldn’t see every day with the naked eye.  It was quite the adventure.  Check out our 7 fun and unique nature pics:

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This post was written by:

Lindsey Clair

Lindsey Clair is a homeschooling mother of three daughters. She has been married fourteen years to her best friend Ron where he is currently a Solutions Engagement Supervisor for the State of Michigan at UPS. Lindsey possesses a degree in Child Development. She hopes to pursue a degree in Marketing and Advertising in the near future. She is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer for multiple sites and enjoys working from home while homeschooling her children. Lindsey is also a musician. She currently plays the piano and flute and sings. She was formerly the children’s director at her parents church as well as on the praise and worship team. Lindsey and her family are currently in a new transition with another church and waiting on what their next move will be. Lindsey’s hobbies include reading, shopping, blogging, and hanging out with family and friends.

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Homeschool Friendly Columbus, OH

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When you are looking for something new and different for your homeschooling family, drive just three short hours and experience some of what Columbus, Ohio has to offer.  I was recently invited to participate in the “Experience Columbus” event for bloggers and I was very surprised at how many family-friendly things there are to do – and educational to boot!

How about learning about the African Rainforest while zip lining or on horseback? In Columbus you can learn about the human body and about the many plant species that grow across the globe. Columbus offers many learning opportunities for homeschooling families. There are many hotels in the downtown hotels ranging from luxury to budget. There’s a hotel and an experience for everyone.

 Downtown Columbus

The downtown area of Columbus is rich with history, boasting over 140 historical sites including the Old Governor’s Mansion and the Statehouse.  With plenty of park space and the riverfront, downtown Columbus is a great place to explore on foot.  Particularly touching, the Ohio Veterans Plaza features two limestone walls inscribed with the letters written home by veterans from different wars.  As you are planning your trip, be sure to visit Columbus History for FREE teacher lesson plans.

Columbus Statehouse

 

Ohio Veterans Memorial

Ohio Riverfront

 

The Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

 Located in downtown Columbus, COSI offers a wide array of things to do. Many of the activities are interactive too such as driving a Mars Rover, learn about the human body or pick up a car at the Big Science Park. Standard admission is $18 for adults, $13 for kids and under 2 is free. COSI also offers camps during summer break. Camps range from one day to multi days for kids in grades K-12. Many camps are broken down into grade levels such as K-1st graders. Homeschool workshops are available as well.  Annual memberships are perfect if you plan on visiting several times a year.

 

Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park is located about two miles east of downtown Columbus. It encompasses 88 acres and offers outdoor gardens; art sculptures and a one-mile trail around the park. You can partake in classes in for cooking, gardening, fine arts and wellness as well as interactive hands-on program for kids of all ages.  You’ll also see some of the finest art displays of light artist James Turrell and Dale Chihulys glass artwork throughout the conservatory.

 

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is broken down into seven regions. This makes it easier for children to learn where the animals originate from and more about their habitat. The seven regions are Asia Quest, North America, Polar Frontier, African Forest, Australia, Islands Southeast Asia and Shores. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has many endangered species such as the Siberian Tiger and Bald Eagle. There are many areas where you can get up close and personal with the animals such as the Walk About where you can get pretty close to the kangaroos.

Many of the areas feature hands on attractions such as the Habit Hollow, which teaches children the importance of recycling. There is also an area where your more adventurous children can go on rides such as the train, pony ride, carousel and roller coaster. There are many lessons that can be covered at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Admission prices for ages 2-9 is $9.99; ages 10-59 is $14.99; and ages 60 and older is $10.99. If you visit during January or February you will receive 50% off your admission price. They also offer a two-park combo ticket, which is good for both the Zoo and the Zoombezi Bay Water Park, which is $43.99 for ages 10 and up and $31.99 for ages 2-9 and under 2 is free. These rates are as of summer 2013 and are subject to change.

 

Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art is not one of those art galleries where children have to keep their hands put. Over 200,000 people of all ages pass through the gates and leave the building smiling usually with a new masterpiece in hand. Instead there are many hands on activities for children of all ages. There is an area for everyone ages three and up to play with color, play games and create art together. Have fun in the Wonder room and Big Idea Gallery. Teach your children about the exhibits and then see them in person. Their collection features art from the American Early Modernism, Ancient America, Folk Art, Nineteenth Century, and Photographic Art. Many other periods are also represented.

An admission to the museum is $12 for adults; $8 for seniors; $5 for children ages 6-17; ages 6 and under is free. (Budget Tip: Admission is FREE on Sundays!)

Columbus Museum of Art

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Zoombezi Bay Waterpark

The Zoombezi Bay Waterpark has 17 waterslides to choose from and their high tech Big Boa Falls is one of only six in the United States with a zero gravity hill and enclosed tunnel. If your kids are older relax in the adults only lazy river. There is a wave pool and a four and one-half story tree house called Barracuda Bay with over 100 different attractions inside and out. Katoomba Lagoon is another water playground with 12 play areas for the kids. There are several raft slides holding one to six people. The cycle, which holds four people, reaches speeds of 20 miles per hour.

Admission to the waterpark is $32.99 for ages 10 and up; $24.99 for ages 2-9 and seniors; and under 2 is free. Two park tickets are available that are for admission for both the waterpark and the zoo.

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The Wilds

Visit over 9,000 acres and 25 species of animals at The Wilds. Here you have many options on how you see and experience the park. You can see the Wilds via zip line, horseback, bike, fishing expedition, bus, or open-air vehicle.

The Wild Zip Line Safari is for children ages 10 and up as well as adults who weigh at least 70 pounds. This safari is backed by Jack Hanna, and is perfect for all nature, adventure and animal lovers.

The Horseback Adventure is great for animal lovers, and lasts one hour.

The admission price at The Wilds is $20 for bus ride; $30 per person for the open air safari vehicle; horseback safari $30; Zip Line is $85 per person; and the sunrise safari is $75 per person.

 Where to Stay and Where to Play

During our trip, our family was treated to two nights at the Hilton at Easton Town Center.  This nicely-appointed hotel features a restaurant, coffee shop, plenty of lobby space and an indoor pool.  One of the best features, though, is it’s proximity to Easton Town Center.  Just footsteps from the door of the Hilton, Easton Town Center boasts restaurants (including the Cheesecake Factory – yum!) and shopping for every budget & taste, as well as a movie theater.  Families with small children will enjoy the combined indoor and outdoor spaces with bocci courts, water fountains and plenty of places to stop and rest.  Of particular interest to families with girls is the newly opened American Girl store!

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There really is so much for families to do and see in the Columbus area. It is about a three hours drive but it is certainly worth the trip.  The educational opportunities are endless and you will always have something to do. Whether you are looking for an outside or inside activity, Columbus is the place to go.

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