Even though plane tickets are now a fortune, you don't have ditch the thoughts of taking a spring break trip. You don't even have to travel far to widen your child's horizons.
That said, car rides can be a drag for kids. Parents, too. When we road trip as a family, we keep drive time less than six hours at a stretch. Frequent stops-both roadside and overnight-are key. It keeps the fun fresh. And we learn a lot along the way. Another trick? We never backtrack. Instead we drive home a different way than we came. I call it looping-a fantastic way to keep the scenery changing and the adventure unfolding.
So if you are looking to get out of town, here are four fantastic Chicago Loops-trips that loop your travel and double your fun. Because they're road trips, they won't tug the purse strings too much. But they will definitely top your kids' lists. You will never want to fly (direct) again.
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Stops: Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Empire Mich., Lambeau Field and Packers Hall of Fame in Green Bay, Wis.
Drive time: 18 hours round trip
Pictured: Boyne, Mich.
Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Sleeping Bear National Park, Empire, Mich.: Named the Most Beautiful Place in America by ABC's Good Morning America-and the Bozzo family-Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes will take your breath away. The sand dunes are ginormous, so large they are visible from outer space. The sand mountains, as my little one calls them, are quite a challenge to climb, but oh so fun to run down! For a quick stretch, you can hike the 100-foot dune climb. If you have more time, we had a blast braving the Dune Hiking Trail, a 1.7-mile trek to Lake Michigan, almost 3 1/2 miles (round trip) of sand-dune-climbing fun.
Boyne Mountain Resort, Boyne Mountain, Mich.: Hike, bike, zip and splash. Boyne offers hundreds of hiking trails, miles of challenging single and two track mountain bike trails, kayaking, ziplining and Michigan's biggest indoor water park, Avalanche Bay, voted the third best water park in the U.S. by Budget Travel.Your kids will marvel over the surf simulator where they don't need a sunny California day to hang 10. Recognized as one of the world's best resorts by Travel and Leisure three years in a row, Boyne Mountain Resort is a terrific spot for families. We love the bunk rooms for the kids, the handy in-room kitchen, the 90-degree outdoor pool and the key to this mom's sanity, a world-class spa right on site.
Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Green Bay, Wis.: With a little advance planning, why not catch a behind-the-scenes tour of the legendary Lambeau Field? Imagine walking through the players' tunnel, up to the exclusive club level, through the Legends Club.
Photo opportunities abound. Or relive 90 years of the most exciting moments in Packers football at the 25,000-square-foot Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame with nearly 80 exhibits, including four Super Bowl trophies.