Chicago travel recap: Family-friendly destinations

It’s official. My family has the travel bug! With 11 vacations in 12 months under our belt, I’d say that my family has become well-traveled. And dare I say, travelling with our toddlers has become easier! We had a fun year traveling and we’re excited to see what 2014 brings. Here are some of our highlights from last year. Here’s hoping this will give you a few ideas for your next family adventure!

We have always wanted to visit our friendly neighbor to the north, so we decided to make a weekend getaway to Milwaukee. We visited in the dead of winter, but were kept busy with the indoor museums such as Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum and Discovery World. We visited again during summer for two quintessential Milwaukee experiences – the Wisconsin State Fair and a Brewers game.

For all things cherry, we ventured to northern Michigan to visit the Cherry Capital of the World: Traverse City. While we had a great time visiting their local beaches, checking out lighthouses, taste-testing all things cherry at Cherry Republic including soda and wine, we will always remember the arduous climb up Sleeping Bear Dunes. But you know what? We’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Our trip to Indianapolis, Indiana did not disappoint. We knew Indy boasted the world’s largest children’s museum, but we were quite surprised with the other family-friendly offerings including the Rhythm Discovery Center, the zoo and the minor league ballpark right in the middle of downtown. A trip to the Motor Speedway Capital of the World wouldn’t have been complete without visiting the famous Indianapolis Speedway. While we didn’t get a chance to catch a race, we did visit the Hall of Fame Museum and took a spin around the famous “Oval” on a bus. At the Dallara Car Factory, we learned how Indy cars were made. The highlight of our trip though was actually taking a spin on an actual street legal race car. We have plans to visit Indy again!

We may have shopped ’til we dropped at the Mall of America, but we discovered the mall offers much more than shopping. It’s truly a family-friendly destination with a fun amusement park, mini golfing and a really cool aquarium underneath the mall. Our visit was highlighted by the fact that our hotel was directly connected to the Mall.

We decided to fly on a plane for the first time. Our destination? Sunny Florida! We landed in Ft. Lauderdale then made our way down the Florida Keys to Key West. We made stops at cheesy souvenir shops, munched on tropical fruits and ate hogfish for the first time. We made friends with dolphins at the Dolphin Connection at Hawks Cay Resort, relaxed on one of the Keys’ rare beautiful beaches for a few minutes before getting slammed with rain and had Key Lime pie wherever we could get our hands on it. This vacation was definitely one of our favorite trips of the year.

 What are your travel plans for 2014?
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