By Robin Kaye
Being a writer is hard for me because I find myself housebound, more often than not. I can’t wait to go out, explore the world, and fill my creative well. I love to travel to foreign lands, soak up different cultures, and take in the architecture, art, music, and most especially, the food. However, exploring with a family of five is a little cost prohibitive.
Since my children have definitely inherited my travel gene, my husband and I have taken to doing low-cost day trips. We pack a lunch and sometimes a dinner too, throw a game in the back of the Sequoia, grab the kids, and head out on adventures.
When we lived in Boise, Idaho, it was as simple as packing a picnic basket and hiking just outside of town to find evidence of the nearby Oregon Trail, taking a tour of the haunted Old Idaho Penitentiary, or driving to the nearby ghost town of Silver City to pretend we were miners. We always kept a few mining pans in the car, so if we caught valley fever, or needed to escape the summer heat, we’d drive to the mountains and spend the day at the river’s edge, hunting for the elusive hot springs and nuggets of gold. We were good at finding hot springs, gold, not so much. But hey, we always had fun.
Living in the Washington D.C. area is the perfect place for taking day trips. We’ve explored Colonial Williamsburg, and Washington’s Birthplace. We’ve visited Monticello and Mount Vernon several times. My kids have turned into little—or not so little, anymore—historians. We love to go to Gettysburg, Valley Forge, and Antietam.
We’ve gone to Philadelphia and walked the cobblestone streets of our founding fathers. We visit Longwood Gardens once every few months, and we’ve been known to run down to DC at a moment’s notice to go to the Smithsonian.
Sometimes we pack up art supplies and hit the National Art Museum for an hour of sketching one of the many masterpieces. Part of the fun is requiring everyone to sketch—no matter that we have absolutely no artistic aptitude when it comes to drawing, with the exception of my youngest and my husband.
We’ll go from there to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage for the free show they have every night at 6:00. They have a schedule on line, but we’re not much in the way of planning so most times, we just show up and see what’s playing. We’ve never been disappointed. The last time we went, we saw an amazing steal drum band, and the time before that, a performance of Cyrano de Bergerac. My children were spellbound and have been repeatedly since they were three, five, and seven. Now at twelve, fourteen and sixteen, that hasn’t changed.
A couple of weekends ago, my husband took the girls and their best friends to the National Building Museum.
It was the one day of the year you can make your own rubber-band powered airplanes and fly them in the three story Great Hall. There were contests for the highest flier, the longest flight, etc. Unfortunately, for my youngest’s best friend, there was no contest for best water landing. He flew his plane out of bounds and into the fountain. After their avionic adventures, my brave husband took them to the Air & Space Museum, and then to the History Museum. Of course, when they arrived back home, I found out that the highlight for our own little Sully Sullenberger was riding the metro. Well, you can’t win them all.
Where do you go to feed your spirit, fill your creative well, or just escape? Where are your favorite places to go when you want to travel to far off lands but have to stick closer to home?