Let’s take a count. How many of you have been to Disney World in your lifetime? I have!
How many of you have taken your children or grandchildren to Disney World? I haven’t.
Let me preface this column by saying that I have nothing against Disney. I think it’s a piece of America that will never be replaced.
I value the history of Walt Disney’s contribution to our lives through his characters and creativity. I think it’s wonderful that there are parks that share the joy of Disney and his vision.
It’s simply not a destination my family has put at the top of our list.
Do you have a favorite family vacation destination?
The idea of going to hazy, hot, humid Florida and standing in lines with sweaty, cranky kids is the last idea I have of a vacation. That’s just me.
I have plenty of friends who absolutely love to go to Disney, and I can appreciate that. Their kids enjoy it and look forward to going again and again.
They talk about the amazing resorts, the impressive food and the neat experiences their children have with the characters. Good for them! (And I sincerely mean that!)
It’s just not our taste.
Instead of focusing on Disney as a destination, we take road trips to places we have never been.
We look for national parks we haven’t heard of (Theodore Roosevelt National Park, for instance) and make an extra effort to go there instead of to the Jersey shore.
Our oldest son is 10 years old and has been to almost every state in the country.
From the time he was 10 weeks old, he has driven across tens of thousands of miles and visited national parks, national monuments, national lakeshores and more. We never focused on commercialized destinations, and actually tried to avoid them.
He’s never been to Sesame Place either.
This past year it occurred to me that I might be depriving him by not giving him the "Disney" experience. I asked him if he’d ever want to go.
To my surprise, his response was “Nah.”
He explained how much he loves to see the country and learn about our history. I was proud and surprised at the same time.
Naturally our hope as we carried him along on our expeditions was that he would absorb knowledge through our experiences on the road. But I never heard this validation from him before.
He explained that, for him, it’s more fun to sit in the back of the car with binoculars counting pronghorn sheep as we drive down a blue highway.
For him, it’s more exhilarating to accomplish a 6-mile hike to summit a mountain and play in a snowfield in July.
For him, floating down the Yellowstone River on an inner tube is more fun than a waterslide at .
Our country has so much to offer. Our national parks need our support and are much more affordable than day passes to Disney World.
If you haven’t visited a national park lately, put it on your bucket list. In a way you’ve never imagined, you might become attached to this amazing country in which we live.
Here are my “Top 10 Picks of National Sites to See Before You Die:”
- Glacier National Park – Montana
- Yellowstone National Park – Montana/Wyoming
- Yosemite National Park – California
- Point Reyes National Seashore - California
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Michigan
- Arches, Bryce and Zion National Park - Utah
- Canyonlands National Park – Utah
- Great Sand Dunes National Park - Colorado
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park – North Dakota
- Olympic National Park – Washington
I’d love to answer any questions you have about any of our vacation destinations!