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Road Trippin’

Like I said in my last blog post, I love a good road trip! It’s a great opportunity to see more of the country and to make great memories! We have gone on road trips that were only a few hours long and some that took a few days to get to the last stop. Here are a few of my favorite road trip destinations!

Kansas City

At just under three hours away, we enjoy Kansas City for a short getaway! There is so much to do there, and it’s easy to find something for everyone in our group. We almost always end up visiting Union Station in downtown. They house Science City as well as other exhibits, and my boys love visiting the model train exhibit. Kansas City is also home to LegoLand Discovery Center, which is an amazing indoor LEGO playground! If you’re looking for something fun and free to do, don’t pass up a visit to the Hallmark Kaleidoscope! My kids can spend hours there creating and playing.

There are also a lot of fun places to shop and eat. The Crown Center has some great kid-friendly restaurants and is right across from Lego-Land! Last time we visited, we took the kids to the Crayola Cafe. The menu had delicious offerings for kids and adults alike, and my boys loved the art supplies at the tables. Another fun restaurant located in the Crown Center is Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant where your food is delivered by a train that runs on a railroad throughout the restaurant-need I say more? And of course, we can’t leave Kansas City without having some delicious BBQ. Our personal favorite is Jack Stack BBQ but Joe’s Kansas City BBQ is pretty amazing, too! 

Denver

The kids and I absolutely love making the drive to the Denver area! It’s about a 530 mile drive, and you just can’t beat those beautiful mountain views when you get there. When we reach Kearney, Nebraska, we’re just about ready to stretch our legs and the Archway is a great place to do just that! The Archway is an American history museum that is over I-80! 

Every time we visit Denver, we have to stop at the Hammond Candy Factory. Kids and adults alike enjoy the tour and watching candy being handmade. We can’t get enough of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. I can remember visiting the museum as a child and marveling at the huge IMAX screen, and it’s even better now that I get to bring my kids along! 

We also have to visit Estes Park. It’s the quintessential mountain town that is the basecamp for Rocky Mountain National Park. There are tons of cute shops and great restaurants. We always seem to find pizza places and Poppy’s Pizza & Grill is a big winner with our crew! 

The last time we went to Colorado, we rented a condo in the town of Breckenridge. Main Street Breckenridge has a lot of shops with everything from tourist souvenirs to toys. Like I said, we love pizza and Downstairs at Eric’s had some great pizza and a fun arcade!

Besides the shopping and the museums, there are so many gorgeous places to visit throughout that part of Colorado. Some of our favorites are Red Rocks Park and Garden of the Gods.

From Denver, Colorado Springs is a short drive; it is known as the home of The United States Air Force Academy and Pikes Peak. The Air Force Academy is opened daily for self-guided tours. It’s a beautiful campus full of rich history and gorgeous scenery! If you happen to find yourself on the top of Pikes Peak, try the donuts. Songs have been written about them, they’re that good!

Our favorite eatery in Denver is Casa Bonita. The food is good, but the experience of the restaurant is worth everything. From cliff-divers to gun fights and a gorilla in between, there is so much entertainment that you barely remember to finish the delicious sopaipillas! 

Rapid City/Yellowstone 

Last summer, we headed West for an extra long voyage! Our main destinations were Yellowstone National Park and Rapid City, South Dakota! From Omaha to Yellowstone National Park, it’s about 930 miles and we made sure to break that up over a couple of days so that we didn’t get sick of each other before we even reached our destination!

Yellowstone

Our favorite stop on the way to Yellowstone was Cheyenne, Wyoming! The boys (and my uncle who was traveling with us) loved the Cheyenne Gunslinger show. Adam and I were even called on stage and he was “put on trial”! The show is super cute and free, but there are lots of loud bangs, so if loud noises aren’t your scene, this stop wouldn’t be for your family. There’s also a horse drawn carriage ride that takes you on a historic tour through downtown Cheyenne. We had to stop at Danielmark’s Brewery and Tap Room and tasted some delicious freshly brewed root beer! 

Yellowstone is huge and full of gorgeous scenery, you could spend weeks there and still not see everything the park has to offer. I could probably write an entire post just about Yellowstone! Our first stop was the Old Faithful area where we ate lunch at the gorgeous Old Faithful Lodge and obviously watched the geyser erupt…right on schedule! At the visitor center. My kids picked up Junior Ranger booklets which provided a lot of fun and educational opportunities while we were in the park.

Turner went with my sisters and brother on a horseback ride through the canyons, and they all said it was amazing. I’m kind of jealous that I didn’t go with them.

Between the thermal springs, gorgeous fountains, and erupting geysers it’s really hard to pinpoint what my favorite part of Yellowstone is! If I was forced to make a list of five must-see spots, I would go with Old Faithful, Artist’s Point, Grand Prismatic Spring, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and Mammoth Hot Springs. The great thing about the park is that you come across a lot of scenery and wildlife just driving from stop to stop in the park! Speaking of wildlife…that was easily Turner and Camden’s favorite part! During our five days there, we saw elk and buffalo, and even more exciting, we saw a moose with her baby and a black bear! 

Right outside of the park entrance in West Yellowstone, we visited the Grizzly & World Discovery Center. This conservation park was a great way to get up close to some grizzlies and wolves that are unable to live in the wild for various reasons.

Rapid City

After Yellowstone, we headed across Montana and made our way to Rapid City, South Dakota. The main attraction for us was Mount Rushmore, but the Rapid City area has so much to offer. We spent a day at Mount Rushmore and the boys completed the Junior Ranger program there as well. (Side note: Most National Park offers a Junior Ranger program and I can’t recommend it enough! Completing the activities helped the kids learn so much about the places we were visiting, and Adam and I learned a lot, too.)

We also visited Keystone and grabbed some fun souvenirs and some delicious taffy. We went to downtown Rapid City and ate a delicious lunch at Firehouse Brewing. And after lunch, we went to Dinosaur Park. Dinosaur Park was one of the original tourist attractions in Rapid City, and it was the perfect stop for our dinosaur lovers. I think my favorite shop that we visited in Rapid City was Christmas Village. It has wall-to-wall Christmas decorations all year long! It was the middle of July, but we couldn’t stop ourselves from singing Christmas Carols as we shopped.

The drive back home from Rapid City is about seven and a half hours, but it wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Wall Drug. If you haven’t been to Wall Drug, it’s worth the drive to the Wall for that reason alone! This is the epitome of a tourist trap and I mean that in the best possible way! They have a giant Jackalope and a replica of Mount Rushmore!

 

Road Trip Stops

This is just a small list of road trips that I love. We have gone on so many, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of my favorite–although sometimes pretty whacky–road side stops between here and there. If you’re driving through Eastern Iowa on I-80, you have to stop at the World’s Largest Truck Stop. If you find yourself in Western Nebraska stop in Alliance and visit Carhenge. Words can’t even describe this marvel. In Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a must-do…especially if you’re a racing fan. You can ride a mini bus around the race track. 

This summer, we’re planning on taking the boys to Branson, MO for the first time and I’m so excited! We live in a big, beautiful country with so much to see. Take a road trip and discover some fun along the way! What is your family’s favorite road trip destination or fun place to stop?

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