We did our very first summer road trip across several states as a family this summer. We started planning this because we wanted to visit my family in NC, but also Dan’s family in PA and this was a way that we could do both, and break up the trip so that it was do-able with the kids. Long car rides are hard on everyone, but with little kids, it can involve big emotions, and feelings of exhaustion. It’s hard to have much sympathy though considering when Dan and I were kids, all we had was a window to stare out of, a sibling to annoy, and if we were lucky, some books to look at. Kids these days have toys, iPads, in-vehicle entertainment with screens that play DVDs. They have so much more to keep themselves occupied. They were a few times that they all fell asleep together, and those times were gifts from God.
We started our trip picking the boys up from their week long Stonecreek Kidzu Adventure camp at church, and went straight to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. They live on a farm by Lake Hartwell and raise black angus cattle. They are truly amazing Godly people and I absolutely love every bit of time we get to spend with them. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, and Grandpa took them around the farm on his big tractor, and we got to watch Grandpa feed the cattle. The kids loved it! I wish we could spend more time there, but we were heading up to Wilmington the next day and we needed to get a head start on the trip, so we stayed overnight in Anderson, SC after our visit at the farm.
Number 1 on the Map:
On our second stop, we visited Dad, Rennie, and brother Christopher in Wilmington, NC. We met downtown at Slice of Life, my favorite pizza place, and then we headed over to the Serpentarium to see the crazy amount of poisonous snakes and reptiles. It was pretty neat, but I didn’t get a lot of pictures from the Serpentarium, but the kids had a great time. We got there just in time for the feeding. It was fun, but let’s just say the staff wasn’t exactly kid-friendly. At one point, they were feeding an enormous boa constrictor large rabbits, and calling them the Easter bunny. Not Cool. Nevertheless, the kids still loved it. Parker in particular really enjoyed it.
The next day, we geared up for the beach. Dad really wanted to take the boys fishing. So, we went back to our old neighborhood, caught some pin fish to bait a crab trap, and then headed to Surf City’s Soundside Park on Topsail Island where we had lunch and went fishing.
Number 3 on the Map:
Parker, Dan, Christopher and Dad stayed at Soundside Park and fished some more, and Rennie, Sienna, Mason and myself went to the beach to catch some waves. Dan and Parker met us there a little later. It was so nice to hang at the beach that I grew up going to. So fun!
Rennie and Dad were very hospitable during our stay, and Dad made us special dinner of Beef Stroganoff our first night, and took us out to a delicious Italian dinner our second night. We were so well taken care of during our stay, and we’re looking forward to our next visit to see them in the years to come!
From Wilmington, we made our way to Ocean City, Maryland. Dan had vacationed here with his family when he was younger, and could vouch for how fun it was. It didn’t disappoint. Dan had saved up his hilton points from all of his business travels, and we used points to stay at the Hilton Suites in Ocean City. It was perfect. They had a fabulous outdoor swim-up bar, kids slides and kiddie pool. It was so fun. The hotel is within walking distance of the beginning of the boardwalk, so we loved how close it was. We took advantage of the tram, but didn’t get a chance to use the bikes. Apparently, you have to get up at the crack of dawn to get down to get your bike! Lesson learned. Hopefully next year we can do a family bike ride on the boardwalk. The kids loved the carnival rides, prizes, the street performers, etc. Lots of fun for two days!
Number 4 on the Map:
Our next stop was to visit Dan’s family and longtime friend that live in Pennsylvania. We were staying in Doylestown to be exact, a cute quaint superb suburb of Philly. Ha! My auto-correct changed suburb to superb, so there you go! It was indeed superb!
Dan’s best friend Jim was his best man in our wedding, and they’ve been friends for almost thirty years. Jim is married to Jess, and together they have two daughters aged 7 and 5. They welcomed us into their home to stay with them, and they were wonderful hostesses to our family. I know it’s not easy hosting a family of five, where some of us are sleep deprived and possibly not our best behaved, but they were welcoming none the less! We used their washer and dryer, and Jess folded all our clothes when we left to visit Dan’s family. Now that’s a fantastic hostess! Jim was also very welcoming to our kids, and was such a great sport when the kids wanted to play hairdresser and give him a cut an style! So fun.
We enjoyed a fun visit to Central Park (the kids call it Castle Park, because of the huge wooden “castle”playground), and we drove up to Hershey, Pennsylvania our last day of our visit to enjoy the many rides at the amusement park Hershey Park. The kids had a blast. The super duper looper and the water park was a big hit with our family!
Number 5 on the map:
Our second day in Pennsylvania, we ventured closer into the city to visit with some of Dan’s family. I had been friends with Dan’s Aunt Denise on facebook, and seen a lot of her, but I had never met her in person before. I met Dan’s Uncle Bill, Aunt Peanut, and Uncle Brian as well. They were all so sweet, and welcoming. The kids loved meeting them as well as spending time with them and their sweet dog Erica. They brought over the best philly cheesesteaks in the area, and we had a great time visiting with them!
After our time in Pennsylvania, we started our decent south and stayed overnight in a small town in Maryland. In the morning, we headed to Asheville, NC for one night. We drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was such an incredible drive. I had never been on an interstate with so many winding turns, hills, and beautiful mountainous views in every direction. It was by far the prettiest drive of the trip. All three fell asleep and took a good nap on the way there, which was great and we got in Asheville just in time to get settled and head in town for dinner.
Our hotel was about 20mins outside of Asheville, so when we asked the front desk if he could give us some recommendations for a good family restaurant, he said he didn’t venture into the city often. Hmm.. So we were left to our own devices, and how hard could it be to find a good restaurant? Well, apparently pretty difficult, as we found out. We parked near the college, and walked several blocks, and things were either too pricey/fancy, or not appropriate for kids (vaping/loud music, etc) and then all of a sudden, we turned a corner, and found Lexington Avenue Brewery. It was perfect. Despite the fact that it was a brewery, it had many families in there, and a fun atmosphere and best of all, great food.
The next day, we went to one of our favorite things to do as a family in Asheville; visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center. They have a great selection of animals that are native to the area, and the kids had such a great time! In addition to seeing the neat animals, and learning about them, they also had little stations that allowed you to build your own fort with sticks, put on your own puppet show, climb your own spider web, etc. This was a fun way to conclude our summer road trip.
It was overall a great trip. It was long, and trying at times, but it was the best way to mix a summer vacation with visiting family and friends. I think the kids enjoyed spending time with family, learning about new places, and making memories that they will cherish for many years to come.