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When I told Mr. B that my latest post was going to be about mining for local gems he got very excited thinking that he was about to be freed from the daily grind of it all. He was mistakenly under the impression that the big hole in the backyard was my discovery of millions of dollars worth of gold that was our key to early retirement.  Unfortunately, I had to break it to him that the big hole in the backyard was just another huge mess made by our new puppy….yet another reminder that I brought the puppy home without his permission – but that’s a completely different post for a completely different day…..

No, for the purposes of this post, by ‘mining for local gems’ I mean to discuss the process of unearthing the local attractions in any city you visit.  You may recall the post where I talked about the trip I fun rv vacations with kidstook with my sister and my two boys a couple of summers ago. (read more here). When I was planning that trip, it was really important for me to find out about all of the unique things going on in each city that we were going to visit, such as the Molly Brown House in Denver, Co ( my younger son had just completed a lengthy project on Molly Brown ), the Navajo Twins in Bluff, Utah, and the natural hot springs in Pagosa Springs, Co, to name a few.

A lot of time and research went into creating a memorable trip and maximizing on all of the cities best local attractions, so I thought I’d offer some tips to all our RV travelers who want to do the same thing. How do you FIND the attractions? Here are a few ideas:

fun rv vacations with kidsLOOK AT A MAP: I know it’s the age of the internet, but let’s not forget the dependability of a map. I have to admit that I lean towards the cyber network, but my sister brought several maps and atlases along, and we used them quite frequently.  When we were heading into South Dakota, for instance,  at the very end of our trip, she examined both the regional map of the Black Hills and the city map of Rapid City. She simply looked for the little red squares (colors and shapes may differ per atlas) touting local attractions. So besides just visiting Mount Rushmore, our maps took us to Wind Cave National Park, the Cleghorn Springs Fish Hatchery, Storybook Island, Dinosaur Park, and on our way out of town, to Carhenge – probably one of the favorite stops of the whole trip.

USE THE INTERNET: This, obviously, was my number one source. Once I had our destinations planned out I looked for details. The Internet is just about the best tool for a road trip since the invention of the wheel, although the GPS and the iPhone come close. Now, I’m a bit meticulous about this: I had a file folder that I took with us – each section dedicated to each stop, and it was filled with printouts detailing everything from RV parking info to attraction fees and times, our reservations to events, best local restaurants, etc.  You can be as pre-planned as you want to be – I’m definitely on one end of the spectrum. But the World Wide Web can give you great local help.

PICK UP BROCHURES: Most every RV campground has afun rv vacations with kids collection of brochures somewhere near the registration desk. Often, there are dozens of different ones. Usually, they show attractions not only in the immediate area, but also in the general region. So at the campground on the outskirts of Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park, for instance, we were able to pick up a bunch of brochures about various attractions in and around the Pike’s Peak area. That way, as we motored along, we were able to discuss what might come next.

FIND A VISITOR CENTER: Maybe it’s called a visitor and convention bureau. Or a chamber of commerce. Or a simple info kiosk. But by any name, it is there to help you (the visitor) find something to do.

TALK TO PEOPLE: The folks at the RV campgrounds are in the same boat (so to speak) as you. Maybe they’ve been there before. Maybe they’ve planned carefully. Perhaps they live somewhere in the region. A simple chat with these amiable people can translate into a change of plans or an unexpected addition to the itinerary.

TALK TO FRIENDS: When I told people I was planning this fun rv vacations with kidstrip, everyone had an experience or a story to share about a trip they had taken out west.  Because I spoke to friends at lacrosse practice, the nail salon, and the boys’ school, I was able to add a local polo match in sheridan, wyoming that only occurs on the third sunday of the month, we were fortunate to eat at a really fun sushi restaurant ( flying fish ) in elko, nevada, and we got to stop at a local water park for the boys in an otherwise pretty deserted, lava hot springs, idaho.  If your friends can’t join you on your journey, at least they can point you in the right direction for a little extra adventure.

So…..a few ideas for planning your next vacation.  If you have any others that I’ve failed to mention, don’t hesitate to add them!

Oh – one more tip – if you plan on traveling through Arizona, you might want to stop at Goldfield Ghost Town near Apache Junction.  Rumor has it, the best supply of gold since the California Gold Rush can be found there….although you’re going to have to high-tail it if you plan on going.  Mr. B’s already left in his Airstream with a half-a-dozen shovels – and the puppy.

Safford RV

6101 Mallard Road
Thornburg, VA 22565

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