My Fav-5 Vacation Destinations

May 29, 2007 at 5:23 pm (Random thoughts)

With Memorial day behind us it’s now time to look ahead towards summer vacation. Vacations were a HUGE part of my childhood. As long as I can remember we were blessed with looking ahead towards the month of August as vacation time. Vacations were so instrumental in not only building family togetherness but also in educating us about the world around us.

After careful consideration of everywhere I can remember traveling to during my “at home” years (which lasted WAYYYYY too long) I have narrowed it down to my 5 favorite places to vacation.

5. Lake Powell

I don’t think I appreciated House Boating on Lake Powell as much then as I do now. Sure it can get a bit stressful at times being stuck in close quarters with way too many people in way too hot of temperatures wearing way too little clothes. But it’s hard to find a place that offers more adventure for a kid than living on a boat, exploring caves and caverns, jet skiing, kayaking, fishing, hiking and swimming. A whole lot of fun, even if you are constantly looking at every other boat with an extreme case of boat envy. Lake Powell is a definite must for any two or more families looking to vacation together.
4. Washington DC

I really loved D.C. even though I can only remember going there once when I was about 15 but it was such a cool place. I guess I’m a bit of a nerd because I like museums and history and stuff. I don’t know if I enjoyed it as much then as I do now, but I can’t wait till I get to spend some more time in our Nation’s capital.

3. Chicago

I’ve been to Chicago just 3 times but each time I enjoy it a little more than the last. I really like the energy of a “big city” but I’m not a fan of the New York attitude. Chicago is quite different, it’s cleaner, friendlier and prettier. They have some terrific museums, great parks and a very cool shore line. And once you get that feeling like you are staring in Ferris Buellers day off or the Fugitive, you’re hooked.

2. Tahoe

It’s been a long time since my last visit to Tahoe (7 years I think) and then it was in the winter. To go back all the way to the last time I was in Tahoe in the summer is just out of reach for my memory to be really clear. But this I know. As far as picturesque scenery is concerned there isn’t anywhere I’ve experienced that compares. When I was a child, however this wasn’t very appealing. But playing on giant boulders with toy rifles was. Renting a speed boat and cruising into emerald bay was. Hiking down to see an ancient viking castle was REALLY appealing. I can’t wait to get back to Tahoe.
1. Las Vegas

As a kid I loved Las Vegas for a couple of reasons. First and foremost was the pool. We always stayed at the Tropicana which had a fantastic pool with “swim up Black Jack”. Secondly there was Circus Circus! As if the endless carnival games weren’t enough they went ahead and built an indoor amusement park! this place ROCKED!

As an adult I have found that Las Vegas continues to please. If you can manage to throw a blind eye towards all of the debauchery surrounding you, you can have a really fun time. Probably the best thing about Las Vegas though is the free parking. It’s so great to not have to worry about finding a parking spot or having to pay 20 bucks for literally NOTHING. Since every casino wants you to come in there is no way they will make it difficult by charging you to park. That 20 bucks can go a long way when you swim up to the black jack table ๐Ÿ˜€

Well that’s my list. Feel free to share your list or to criticize any of my choices. That’s what the blogosphere is all about ๐Ÿ˜‰



  1. amyleesspace said,

    I went to Washington DC on an 8th grade school trip for a week. I LOVED IT, I also love history.I enjoy it more when I am actually visiting a historical place, rather than reading about it in a history book.

    Vegas- not one of my fav places, maybe cause I don’t see Wences the whole time that we are there.

    The other places haven’t been to… unfortunately as a child we were not able to go on yearly vacations ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Maybe at some point that can be a tradition we start for our lil family..

    I would LOVE to go to Italy, Hawaii, and Fiji ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. danielbalc said,

    Side Note: I only included destinations that we drove to, because for me half the fun is getting there. I love the long drive. Even though I have been to Italy and Hawaii I donโ€™t include them because they are in a different sort of category.
    I hear you regarding the down fall of Vegas. Once it becomes griswold-esque things can get a little uncomfortable and descend from โ€œfamily vacationโ€ into โ€œvacation from familyโ€. Seriously the idea of an โ€œalone dayโ€ as seen on Vegas Vacation, seems totally appealing at first but would ultimately end up being miserable.

  3. Matt S said,

    Lake Powell is absolutely one of the coolest places on earth. I have no idea how you can spend a week there and not believe in a Creator. As for recreation it is also on the top of the list.

    There are few things better than getting up early and going waterskiing or wakeboarding on perfectly glassy water with no other boats anywhere around. The constant card games and trivial pursuit matches are not bad either.

    Tahoe is beautiful as well but not as majestic as lake powell, however, they do have casinos which is a definite plus.

    Vegas is a given.

    Yosemite is a place my family would go camp every year and it is another place whose natural beauty is hard to describe. We would go with friends every year and it was a great time. I look forward to doing the same with my family.

  4. danielbalc said,

    Yosemite is a place I have not been but is tops on my list of “places to see”

  5. itsasecret2u said,

    We didn’t do too many family vacations when I was growing up. Of the places you’ve listed, I’ve only been to Tahoe and Vegas. I hated Vegas. Maybe it was because I was only 19 and couldn’t gamble… but I don’t like to gamble, so I don’t think that would have made a difference. I enjoyed seeing all the different hotels, but it was the kind of thing I could see once and have no desire to see again. Maybe I’ll give it another shot someday because I seem to be in the minority with that one. I know I’d love D.C. and I really want to visit the Art Institute of Chicago someday to see my favorite Georges Seurat painting.

    I took only 2 “driving” family vacations growing up. One was across the southern part of the U.S. with my mom, sister, and grandma to see my family in Louisiana and Oklahoma. That was really pretty fun because I got to see several different states on the way there. I think I was 9 at the time and the south seemed like a different planet to me. My mom’s hometown had no real stoplights (only the single, flashing kind on a string) and everyone did everything (talked, ate, moved) so slowly. I think I would appreciate that now instead of having it frustrate me. But at the time I felt like we were swimming through molasses.

    The other vacation was with my dad and was my favorite. We went to the Grand Canyon, Great Basin, and Lake Tahoe, tent-camping for 2 weeks. It was awesome. There was some crazy wildlife in the Great Basin campsite (a skunk who visited to eat the rest of our beans while we were having dinner, a mother deer and her fawn in the wee hours of the morning standing on the rocks above our site), Tahoe was beautiful of course, and hiking in the Grand Canyon was sweet.

    We haven’t done much cross-country traveling with our family yet, but I hope to one day. We are going to Disneyland in September… does that count? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. danielbalc said,

    Grand Canyon was number 6 on my list. Just missing the cut. LOVE the Grand Canyon!

    you’ll have to go to Vegas now with your MMA fascination. What can be more fun then spending a couple hundred bucks to watch a 2 minute fight?

    The south doesn’t just “seem” like a different planet. it IS a different planet. That’s what makes road trips so fun. Even though we are the “united” states, we are awfully different.

  7. 5najeras said,

    The only time I’ve been to Tahoe was with your family. I don’t remember too much of it. I remember the condo had like 500 steps to get to it. And I remember this crazy comet storm at night. I love D.C., San Fran, and Vegas. I still want to go to Hawaii (by boat of course), Yosemite, road trip across the U.S. and Europe and Canada.

  8. danielbalc said,

    I had forgotten about that meteor shower until right now. That was awesome! Good memory. thanks 5n. The 500 steps were forgettable.

    You didn’t go to Tahoe on the DiSCO trip? that was pretty cool.

  9. itsasecret2u said,

    Canada is really fun. I went to Toronto and Niagra-on-the-Lakes (stayed in a cute bed and breakfast), so we did the city thing and the small town thing in one trip. It was really nice and the people were super-friendly.


    I don’t think you’ll ever catch me at a live UFC event. Why pay so much money (and those tickets are EXPENSIVE!) when you can chip in for the PPV and get a better seat? Nah, I’m too practical for that. I know there is something to be said for “being there” in some sports (I love to go to baseball games), but I don’t think MMA is that way. You really have to have the right angle to see what is going on.

  10. Jessica said,

    I love vacations (I’ve already been on 3 trips this yr. all by plane) but nothing compares to driving cross country with your family. I don’t even know how many times we drove across our great nation, we did go by train once.

    About your list though I have been to all of them except Lake Powell, and I can’t believe Vegas is your #1. I hate Vegas. DC, Chicago, and Tahoe are all way better than LV. Tahoe at least has the beauty of nature and casinos.

    My top 5 would have to be:
    5. Seattle (great food)
    4. Boston (great history)
    3. Tahoe (great views)
    2. New York (great city)
    1. Texas (just kidding)

    #1 I’m going to put Maui because that was my most favorite vacation ever.

  11. itsasecret2u said,

    Seattle is really fun. My mom and I went up there my senior year looking at colleges and had a blast.

    I think maybe we were just unlucky, but the whole part of Texas that we drove through smelled like cows. I mean, I live in Ramona so I’m not sure what I’m complaining about, but it was baaaad.

  12. danielbalc said,

    Texas us the WORST. I actually had Vegas as my number 5 until I realized how much I enjoyed it as kid. that was sort of the kicker behind this pos. Places I loved as a kid. When it comes to an adult I have only been to Chicago and Vegas out of the 5 so vegas got the nod based on free parking

  13. amyleesspace said,

    I LOVE BOSTON~ Best pasta there ever!!

    I wasn’t crazy about New york though, maybe I just didn’t go with the right people ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. danielbalc said,

    Boston and New York both are the most overrated places to visit in the whole US.

  15. itsasecret2u said,

    I thought Hawaii was really overrated. I mean, it was alright… I’d probably love to go with my husband, but my two previous trips were just ok. And I am of the opinion that if you’ve seen one sandy beach, you’ve seen them all. But maybe I’d feel differently visiting those kind of places as an adult. I mean, how much “sandy beach relaxation” do you need when you’re 15 years old?

  16. Albino Hayford said,

    Ok, Texas haters…STEP OFF! I have to laugh every time somebody mocks Texas. Dude, this state is HUGE, and most people have only driven through on the lonely and desolate Interstate 10. Before you speak without knowledge, you must first visit South Padre Island, the hill country, with spring-fed, crystal clear rivers north of San Antonio, enjoy an outdoor concert by a river in BEAUTIFUL Austin, and visit the greatest state fair in America in Dallas. To knock Texas without experiencing these things is to expose your ignorance. And, by the way, a call to God in Texas is a local call.

    Ok, here’s my list:

    1 San Diego County — If you can’t live there, you must vacation there

    2 Cabin on a Minnesota lake (If you’ve done it, you will want to do it again)

    3 New York (we loved it)

    4 Washington D.C. (AWESOME, but get your congressman to supply a tax-supported van to drop you off and pick you up along the mall — waaaaaay too much walking)

    5. San Francisco — I vacationed there 3 years in a row when I was a Powegian. Perfect balance between West Coast and NYC attitude. GREAT food and lots to see and do.

    6. Las Vegas — Don’t stay more than 3 or 4 days, but a great time.

    7. Texas Hill Country — Cabin on the river…floating all day down the river with an ice chest full of sodas and sandwiches…eating bbq at night…God’s country

  17. Pablo Honey said,

    1. Las Vegas – Minutes away, miles apart. (That is Vegas right?)
    2. Lake Powell – I would jump at the chance to do the houseboat again, Joy is not a big fan.
    3. Washington D.C. – Like Daniel I have only been once but I absolutely loved it. Really impressed by the subway system even though I smacked my head on the tunnel going up the escalator.
    4. Maui – Beautiful weather, fantastic golf, Daddo pays. Can you beat that?
    5. Downtown San Diego – There’s no place like home. If you haven’t done it already, spend a few nights downtown. It’s always beautiful and you might be surprised at how much there is to do.

    And I have to agree with Jim that Texas is not all bad. Though it isn’t much fun to drive through I do have great memories of the beautiful riverwalk in San Antonio and Six Flags Dallas. Bonus Dallas memory: Daniel falling while going the wrong way on the hotel escalator and tearing a huge chunk of flesh out of his leg! What is it with us and escalators?

  18. itsasecret2u said,

    Ha! I knew Albino would have something to say about the Texas comments! It’s like I said… I think we were just “unlucky” in that we were driving through the not-so-scenic parts. But seriously, that part of the state smells like cows. And my parents went to college and were married in Texas and they’ve told me about the enormous bugs. You can’t fool me.

  19. danielbalc said,

    Albino, I’m glad that Texas has 4 good spots. However in proportion to it’s enormous size it takes a long long long time to get to those good spots. I wouldn’t mind including a place like San Antonio on my list (or even the places you mentioned), it’s just that they are so few and far between. Meanwhile in California there are very few places you can go that are NOT appealing. that’s why every one else is “California dreamin” and looking to check into to “hotel California”, and wishing they all could be “California girls”.

    You can have your big bright stars deep in the heart of Texas I’ll take the place with “more bounce”.

  20. Albino Hayford said,

    No disagreement here on California. You are blessed, my West Coast brother. But your gas prices and ridiculous rent and mortgage payments reflect that as well. I’ll take my 1,600 square foot home with 2-car garage and huge backyard for $99,000 and vacation in other states.

  21. Matt S said,

    Las Vegas – Minutes away, miles apart. (That is Vegas right?)

    I believe that is Sycuan Casino.

    Lake Powell – I would jump at the chance to do the houseboat again, Joy is not a big fan.

    This could be a great idea for a guys only trip. We need to seriously consider this one. (or the wives could come to)

  22. Pablo Honey said,

    Matt I am in full agreement. An all guys houseboat week would be a blast. I can’t speak for all the wives but I know Joy would not be interested. Would Sondra?

  23. Clean said,

    ahem… are single guys invited on this all guys trip?!

  24. amyleesspace said,

    Hey now!! Joy would love to go if I went Paul ๐Ÿ™‚

    I say we do a bunch of couples trip!

    It would make it less expensive ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Matt S said,

    Sondra enjoyed most of it, but probably would not mind passing on the next trip. Maybe it was the showering in the lake or the constant card games?


    I do not know how many guys would be allowed on one boat, but the more the merrier as it would keep the cost down.

    Single guys are more than welcome because it is easier for them to get away (ie no kids) and easier for them to pay. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Maybe Josh would come along and be the resident driver and mechanic.

  26. Alex said,

    I’m in. Emily keeps saying I should go on the Men’s fishing trip but Lake Powell sounds so much better.

  27. amyleesspace said,

    Hey how did the spouses get kicked outta this one ??? ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. danielbalc said,

    Gee guys I guess I’m still too newly wed to share your enthusiasm for abandoning my wife for a week. I mean i could see a weekend or something but Lake Powell is at least a week. At this point I couldn’t do that.

  29. amyleesspace said,

    THANK YOU DANIEL! I will speak for Wences, he couldn’t leave me for a week while he went on vaca… just doesnt seem all that fair ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  30. Matt S said,

    Just give it time Daniel, haha ๐Ÿ™‚

    Well, we could just go to the river for like 3-4 days. My family went a couple a times out past Yuma to a great campground at the far south end of the river. It is super fun, rent some jet skis and maybe a ski boat and tent camp.

  31. Alex said,

    Amy, Those solo trips to New Hammy don’t count as vacations? Wences should at least have about a month in reserves.

    Daniel, 3 or 4 days should be do able. I wouldn’t be able to do a week either.

  32. amyleesspace said,

    A MONTH!! Are you crazy !

    I’ll give him 3 days, thats the max!

    He is going out of town for a whole week this up coming week, and I’m gonna die!! It is hard to work a full time job, be all big and prego, AND have 2 children at home ๐Ÿ™‚ A woman can handle alot but I’m not SUPER woman here ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Laura said,

    IN no particular order:
    I loved going to Yosemite when I was a child – Daniel, you have to go!
    Road trip up Pacific 101 all the way to Coos Bay, Oregon, where we spent Christmas Eve on the sand dunes!
    Perry, Iowa – in mid-December, 11 degrees F at noon – because my brother and sister-in-law were doing A Hometown Christmas with Lamb’s Players at the Hotel Pattee ( a gorgeous historic Arts & Crafts restoration – wow what a great four days that was!)
    I hate both Hawaii and Vegas – I think it is more beautiful here in San Diego County, and Vegas is just too Vegas
    Calgary, Alberta Canada and the day trip to Banff – very cool. Want to go back for the Stampede.
    Trips to Disneyland when I was little. I still like to go and it’s best if I go with my sister Joanne
    Believe it or not, one of my best vacations ever was when I went to McAllen, TX for Jim’s wedding. He and his family are THE ONLY REASON I would ever go to McAllen, though…
    And San Antonio is a delighful city, as is Fredricksburg going away from San Antonio for a day at the Herb Farm and antiqueing
    Palm Desert in the fall or spring, when it is cooler – it’s just nice to get away form home, and it’s not too far to go, and mu husband can golf almost anywhere he wants to and is happy…

    Fun topic to post on!

  34. Midge said,

    Sorry Amylee – Joy wouldn’t like it…no matter WHO went. Not even me…and I’m her life partner! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  35. Midge said,

    In my bros defense…going away for work is hardly comprable to going back home to visit the fam!

  36. itsasecret2u said,

    Yeah, work trips totally don’t count. Missions trips don’t count either. Those aren’t vacations (though missions trips are amazingly fun and awesome, it’s not like you’re having a 10-day vacation… it’s work!). I do have to say that the husband got major bonus points for doing the Mr. Mom thing while I was away on a missions trip. Major bonus points.

  37. amyleesspace said,

    I agree, going away for work is no picnic… I was just saying that as an example… Wences being gone for a week is really hard on me in our current circumstances… plus I would miss him terribly..

    Him going away for a week of work, I am dreading!! So I’m sure no matter where he went for a week would be really hard on me.. So three days, I think that is a good compromise….

    My visits back to NH were a while ago, and several circumstances were quite different then.

  38. itsasecret2u said,

    I did a week alone with my two squirrels a while back and it was no picnic, especially because Dave is really involved with the kids when he gets home from work (i.e. he usually bathes them and #2 will hardly go to sleep at night if Dave doesn’t put him down… incidentally, he’ll only go down easily for a nap for me). But I can’t imagine doing it now while I’m pregnant. Bleh. In fact, he may be going away on business in a week or two… and I’m dreading it. So I totally know how you feel, Amy.

  39. Midge said,

    Actually…I think Amylee takes the cake on this one. She actually let Wences go to Vegas for Ray Ray’s 21st birthday THE DAY Mya was born!! He flew in…pulled an all nighter and flew out with nothing more than a small backpack!

  40. itsasecret2u said,

    hahaha Wait, before or after she was born???

  41. Midge said,

    After…she was born in the morning and he was in Vegas that night!! Haha =)

  42. itsasecret2u said,

    Haha That’s awesome.

  43. amyleesspace said,

    OH yeah!! Midge you are soo right!

    See I really am a nice person ๐Ÿ™‚

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