I use to love road trips growing up. As an adult, it became easier to just fly because road trips take a lot of time – and who has any time these days? After becoming a parent I wanted my kids to experience the open road and the thrill of seeing all of the in-between of our destinations. There’s something relaxing and methodical about watching acres of cornfields and lush green hills for hours. If only my husband thought the same way. Because he is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy he agreed to make the 14 hour trip to Colorado last summer to see family – and we had a blast! So much so, that we decided to do it again this summer!
One thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent is to take advantage of time. My kids will grow up in a blink of an eye and I want them to have stories to tell and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Even though the 14 hours seemed extremely daunting, I knew it would be easier than flying with a toddler. We also would save a ton of money on flights and renting a car. I’d much rather spend that money on experiences there.
We decided to break the trip up in two days and stop in Omaha, Nebraska – the half way point between Chicago and Denver. Because Omaha is a smaller city we had just enough points for a hotel stay at my alma mater company, Starwood. Win! Nothing better than free!
After the car was packed to the brim – we were off!
Travel mom tips:
- To save time and prevent upset tummies – pack your own food. We took a cooler lined bag and I made the kids favorite sandwiches and packed healthy snacks for the whole family. This helped my family and I stay on our clean eating path also. Stopping to eat wastes a lot of time and the only places to eat along the way are usually fast food joints.
- We filled their iPads with movies and fun games to pass the time and also stopped at rest areas to let them run around in the grass for 10 minutes.
- We took their favorite blankets and a pillow which provided the perfect nap environment in the car while still secured in their seat belts.
We barely heard any whining or “are we there yet” comments the entire trip. I know, miracles do happen I tell ya!
The second leg of the trip is always better because you’re closer to your destination. We planned to head to the mountains for several days so I made sure to drink a lot of water and take aspirin to curb my altitude sickness.
If you haven’t visited Colorado, I highly recommend it! For us, being Chicagoans, the endless outdoor activities in Colorado are a nice change – and the kids love all the nature.
Some must do’s – perfect for kids or adults:
- Visit Red Rocks Amphitheater – even if there isn’t a concert going on, it’s a beautiful site to see. Bring LOTS of water.
- Casa Bonita – Yes, I said it. The food is no bueno – but the experience is worth it.
- Estes Park – Such a beautiful site to see. Lots of cute shops and restaurants, but the views are what you go for.
- Downtown Denver – has a great splash pad near the train station, a zoo close by and a phenomenal aquarium. You can even go on a tour of Coors Field if you’re a baseball fan!
- Colorado Springs – A short drive but features the majestic Pike’s Peak and the Garden of the Gods. Both are a must see.
- If you head west into the mountains for some hiking: Booth Falls Trail is a great family friendly trail that features a waterfall. The trail does have a parking lot but there’s only about 15 spots, so my advice is to get there early. The trail is right off of the highway before you get to Vail so very easy to find.
- Georgetown – an old mining town featuring the Georgetown Loop Railroad. We took the boys on a train ride through the mountains and learned about the mining days. A total hit with the boys!
- Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail: All equally fun and quaint. Vail reminds me of an old European town stuck in time. The scenic views are breathtaking. All have great restaurants lots of outdoor activities to offer. My boys preferred to stand by the Snake River and skip rocks for hours – I think I loved it, too.
By the time the trip was over – we felt accomplished and were ready to come home. That’s how you know it was a good trip and we made memories.