The weather’s warm, the days are longer, and the kids
are finally out of school. Now, what to do? An exciting
adventure awaits within hours of Washtenaw County!
Make the most of your summer and explore these
The Henry Ford Museum
and Greenfi eld Village
Take a look at nearly every modern convenience
you enjoy, and odds are it got its start
in the Industrial Revolution. The Henry Ford
Museum and Greenfi eld Village is an attraction
that preserves this part of America’s heritage in
a large, open, and interactive exhibit. Whether
its seeing the Rosa Parks bus, walking through
Thomas Edison’s laboratory, taking a ride in a
replica Ford Model T, or getting ice cream at a
turn-of-the-century style parlor; tourists both
young and old will fi nd more attractions than
they know what to do with. Special exhibits
this year include PLAY, a “giant’s” interactive
collection of full body sized billiards, bowling,
foosball, and dominos. 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
everyday. Museum: $15 adults, $11 children,
free for children 5 and under. Village: $22
adults, $16 children, free for children 5 and
Raging water slides, lazy rivers, relaxing spas,
luxury suites, and an exotic safari theme are
what await guests at the Kalahari Resort in
Sandusky, Ohio. No matter the time of year,
Kalahari has equally entertaining indoor and
outdoor water park facilities for the whole
family. While the kids can enjoy the multiple
water slides, pools, and aquatic play areas;
mom and dad can relax in Spa Kalahari for a
hot stone massage or an herbal mud treatment.
New to the resort this summer is the
Safari Outdoor Adventure Park that boasts a
three level, 750 foot rope course, elevated zip
line rides, 32 foot climbing walls with racing
timers, and a safari animal park.
Step back in time by visiting this historic town
self-described as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.”
Started in the late 1800s by German missionaries,
this town offers endless opportunities
for shopping, dining, and family fun. Visitors
can take a ride down the Cass River aboard an
authentic paddlewheel riverboat, enjoy the historic
architecture from a “fantasy” horse drawn
carriage, or explore the one and a half football
fields worth of year round Christmas decor at
the world’s largest Christmas store. Don your
lederhosen for this summer’s annual Bavarian
Fest from June 10-13 where the town will
be home to brats, Bavarian-style ale, German
music, and games.
Fun, adrenaline, speed, and a general disregard
for the laws of gravity await anyone who
enters Michigan Adventures Amusement and
WildWater Waterpark in Muskegon. Enjoy two
parks for the price of one at this park featuring
60 rides, including roller coasters, water slides,
wave pools, and kiddie rides. Even from afar,
visitors on their way to the park will be struck
by the towering Shivering Timbers wooden
coaster and the 2,000 foot long Thunderhawk,
the state’s fi rst suspended looping roller
St. Joseph, MI
A trip to the local beach is a no brainer when
you live in California or Florida, but for Midwesterners,
the prospect of wading just off the
sandbars is more than likely going to mean a
major vacation. Fortunately, Silver Beach on
the shore of Lake Michigan provides plenty of
fun in the sun without requiring a journey to
one of the coasts. Swim, play beach volleyball,
tube or wakeboard farther off shore, laugh on
the children’s playground, or simply take a nap
on the beach. Visitors of all ages will fi nd the
day far too short to enjoy the full breadth of
activities available at Silver Beach.
Huron-Manistee National Forest
Looking to get away, away from pesky people,
noisy traffic, and the busyness of everyday
life? Try spending the weekend in Huron-Manistee’s
nearly one million acres of undisturbed
and preserved forest. Located along western
shore of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, this
national forest offers camping, backpacking,
boating, hunting, and fi shing. Even hobbyist
gold panners and horse riders will fi nd a home
in Huron-Manistee. Take the weekend or take
the week, and enjoy nature at its finest.
Michigan State Capitol
You vote for them every couple of years,
but how often do you get to see your state
congressmen and congresswomen in their
natural habitat. Schedule a trip to Lansing to
take a tour of Michigan State Capitol. Weekday
guided tours take visitors through the Capitol,
Michigan Historical Museum, and Hall of Justice,
including the House and Senate
galleries. Tours provide historical information
on the Legislature and the Capitol building
as well as a first hand look at the legislativeprocess.
Detroit Science Center
Located in the heart of the Motor City, the
Detroit Science Center prides itself on being
the nation’s “premier engineering-focused
museum.” Youngsters, parents, and grandparents
can have fun and learn by exploring the
museum’s many exhibits such as the robotic
prototypes and manufacturing simulations of
the United States Steel Fun Factory, the 36-foot
tall cutaway replica of one of NASA’s rockets in
the Rocket Laboratory, or the live demonstrations
of electricity and magnetism in the DTE
Energy Sparks Theatre. At four stories tall, the
Detroit Science Center lays claim to Michigan’s
only domed IMAX theatre that promises a
grand cinematic experience.
Dad's Driveway Vacation Checklist
By Jay Payleitner
My family doesn’t groan anymore when I run through my verbal checklist as we leave the driveway and travel the first few blocks on an overnight or weeklong adventure. Over the years, each of them (including my wife, Rita) have said “Oops! Stop. We gotta go back.”
I no longer have to say, “See — aren’t you glad for my vacation checklist.” They know I’m right. It’s one of those rare, small moments I get to savor while claiming victory for dads everywhere.
As a public service to men and their families, following is my unofficial, not-yet-patented vacation checklist. Like most advice for parents, take what you like, leave what you don’t, and make it your own. Here it is in no mandatory order:
1). Cell phones
9). Computer cords
14). Credit cards
19). Hanging clothes
20). Shaving kits
28). “Rags” That’s my daughter’s stuffed dog.
30). Girls’ stuff
31). Clean underwear
32). Reading material
33). Munchies for the car
Say it fast before you get too far from home. The list varies depending on destination — beach vacations vs. out-of-town weddings vs. camping trips. The list also leave hotels and beach houses heading for home. You’ll notice that the more important items are mentioned early and many of the items kind of go in pairs. Once you start mentioning items that you can pick up cheap at any drugstore, then you can stop talking.
Try it on your next trip. Sooner or later, you’ll be a hero for rescuing an entire journey. The one potential problem is that the family starts to expect it. I am just waiting for the day when I rattle off my vacation checklist and happen to forget one item, and that one item – of course – is the one that is forgotten. Somehow, I’ll be the one taking the blame.
This Summer, Take a Virtual Vacation
By Carolyn Jabs
Most parents would like to show their kids the wonders of the world. However, most don’t because travel is expensive and vacation schedules are short. Still, it’s a rare parent who doesn’t fantasize about holding a child’s hand while standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon or pointing out the marvels in a museum like the Smithsonian. Happily, you can take these and other dream trips simply by visiting the right websites. Obviously, a virtual vacation isn’t the same as the real thing but if your goal is to awaken your kids to their natural and cultural heritage, these websites are a terrific start.
Tour the Smithsonian Museum.
If you’ve actually visited the Smithsonian, you know how overwhelming “America’s attic” can be. The website can also be confounding if only because there are so many museums. Start with the Museum of Natural History where your tax dollars have been put to good use creating a virtual tour with a 360 degree environment that makes it feel like you are wandering around the museum (www.mnh.si.edu/panoramas/). When your child spots something intriguing, he or she can ask for a close-up of everything from dinosaurs and fossils to sea-life and mammals, plants and insects to bones and gems. Younger children will also enjoy the Live Cams at the National Zoo (www.nationalzoo.si.edu) and older children can deepen their understanding of American history, culture and art through exhibits at the other museums (www.smithsonian.org/museums/)
Visit a National Park.
(www.nature.nps.gov/views/index.cfm) The National Park Service website is rich with visuals as well as information about the ecology and history of the parks. In addition to famous parks like the Grand Canyon and the Mall in Washington D.C., you and your kids can hang out in more remote spots like theBadlands of South Dakota, Petroglyph Park in New Mexico or the Timpanogos Cave in Utah. The pages on the site load quickly, in part because they don’t include music or narration. Reading the short, but intriguing, captions is a good way to keep school skills sharp, and kids who become immersed in the site will be rewarded by the occasional game. This website is also an excellent way to plan a visit to a park—or to remember past trips. Hike in the woods. UPM, a multi-national forest products company, sponsors an extraordinary website that makes you feel as though you’re tromping through a forest. To access the site go to www.upm.com and click on UPM Forest Life. Suddenly, bird calls fill the air. Is that a stream burbling in the background? A guide appears and offers to show you around but you can also explore on your own by clicking hot spots that explain everything from fungi to forestry management. The narration on the site is available in German, French and Suomi (Finnish), which may slow summer erosion of foreign language skills.
Explore the Earth.
Planet in Action (www.planetinaction.com) enhances maps available at Google Earth to create vivid interactive tours of landmark sites. Check out the “Places” section of the website for tours of Mount St. Helens, Manhattan and Paris Disneyland. With a twitch of the mouse, you can zoom in for a closer look at pointsof interest. The site also includes fl ight simulation games for kids who fi nd a simple tour “boooooring.” You can also go straight to the source by downloading Google Earth 5 (www.earth.google.com/intl/en/), a richer version of GoogleMaps that allows investigation of almost any place on the planet, sometimes in three dimensions. Start by looking for familiar landmarks in your own community. Then go wild and visit places that are totally beyond the family budget. Tokyo. A Carribean island. The Serengeti. Magnify the map until little hot spots appear. Then click on them to learn more about local life.
Take a Moon Walk.
If exploring earth seems passé, try a virtual vacation that is quite literally out of this world. On the toolbar at the top of Google 5, there’s a tiny image of Saturn. Clicking on it gives you the choice of studying the night sky, exploring Mars or traveling to the moon. On the moon, Apollo astronauts offer a personal tour, explaining the craft they used in their historic fl ight and pointing out their famous footprints. These virtual tours offer so many options that younger children will enjoy them more in the company of an adult guide. If possible, hook a computer to a larger that, after dinner, in the company of your kids, you can look forward to sharing a virtual trip to a place you’ve always wanted to visit can become its own mini, but memorable, vacation.
Carolyn Jabs, M.A., has been writing about families and the Internet for over fifteen years. She is the mother of three computer-savvy kids. Other Growing Up Online columns appear on her website www.growing-up-online.com