“Do you think domestic traveling is really traveling?”
Now, I may be a little bit biased because I’ve never been outside of the United States (soon to change in three weeks!), but regardless, I think I can make a pretty good argument for while travelling domestically is really travelling.
My family vacations were always full of learning and seeing. We are not a sit on the beach family. At some points we have sat on the beach or in a mountain cabin, but there are always at least a few side trips to see a museum or attraction or monument or natural beauty. So I like my travelling busy and educational. That being said, there are a lot of fascinating, educational places in the US! I won’t bore you by telling you how many museums I’ve been to across the US (It’s a lot. Seriously. By my senior year in high school I broke down in grumpy, tired 17-year-old tears because I was tired of looking at “stuffed animals and rocks” everywhere we went… but normally I love that sort of thing! It had just been a lot of museums in a short amount of time… End side story.), but I will try to recap some of my favorite domestic trips over the years. Let’s try going east to west.
1. New York, New York
I went with my immediate family, aunt, uncle and cousins at the beginning on my senior year. I was so glad to finally visit such an iconic American city and see the sights (Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, Central Park, Broadway, Radio City Music Hall, Museum of Natural History…), but I would never want to spend extended time there. Too concrete-y. Too busy. Fun for a visit though! I’d love to go back and catch some art museums and another show or two.
2. Orlando, Florida
This wasn’t really an educational trip at all, but Disney World is one of my favorite places on earth! I’ve had the privilege to go twice: once in 7th grade with my extended paternal family and once in 9th grade on a high school band/orchestra trip. (No photos as these trips were all pre-Facebook/my Macbook. *gasp*)
3. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is my favorite city I’ve ever visited so far. It’s got the culture of New York with more midwestern charm. I’ve been fortunate to visit three times: an 8th grade orchestra trip, during summer before my senior year on a college visit to the University of Chicago and Northwestern, and a weekend trip in college. One of my favorite trips was in high school when my family took the Amtrak train from Ft. Worth, Texas all the way to Chicago. It was such a unique and fun experience eating in the dining car and sleeping in the sleep cars. I felt like Harry Potter!
4. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis was only two hours away from Columbia, where I did my undergrad, so I took several day trips there throughout my four years in Missouri. St. Louis has excellent free venues in Forest Park, including the science museum, the zoo, and an art museum. Another must-see is the St. Louis City Museum, which really isn’t a museum at all — it’s essentially a giant playground for children of all ages (and college students). And don’t forget to take a trip to the top of the arch, catch a Cards game, and eat some toasted rav on the Mississippi.
5. Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis wasn’t a vacation, per se, but I did love visiting the city for a week during my senior year of college. I went with my church on a mission trip to work with SOS Ministries in the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis. It was so great to see the city from a non-tourist perspective and interact with the residents there as we fixed up houses. We did take a jaunt to Beale Street ne evening, so no worries. I got a few touristy things in. (No photos because I was in ill-fitting sweats covered in paint and feral cat poo for most of the trip. Glamourous, I know!)
6. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans was also not exactly a vacation. I visited last October for the 2011 National Orientation Directors Association national conference for my job. It was a lot of meeting and greeting and networking for this little introvert, but the conference was really great overall, and we got to visit New Orleans and eat several dinners on the university’s tab! Bourbon street and the French Quarter in general were a little too much for me (but the architecture and music and culture was fascinating from a distance!), but I enjoyed trying all the cuisine, including lots of Cajun food and delicious beignets. Plus I got to learn a lot about Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina through the Presbytere.
6. Minnesota (St. Paul, Minneapolis, & Duluth — same trip)
For spring break of my sophomore year in college, I went with a large group of friends to Minnesota. Why the heck would I want to visit Minnesota in March, you ask? Well, I had friends who lived there and would be willing to put me up, and I’d never been to Minnesota! It was a lovely weekend with friends, exploring the frozen lake shores of Duluth and sitting under warm blankets watching Mizzou basketball in the NCAA tournament.
9. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
This one might not seem like travelling at all considering my hometown is smack between these two cities, but sometimes when we were in high school, our parents would take a day out of spring break to “visit” Dallas or Fort Worth to see the sites. Seeing the World Aquarium or the Dallas Museum of Art or the Fort Worth Stock Show was always a good time.
8. Austin, Texas
See previous post. Mmm. Love.
11. Colorado Springs/Denver/Evergreen, Colorado
My family used to take regularly summer vacations to Colorado where my uncle had a summer home. These were some of our “sit in a mountain cabin for a week” trips (playing horseshoes and darts, collecting rocks, playing in the hot tub), but we also would take day trips out from the cabin in Evergreen to the alpine slides in Golden, Tiny Town in Colorado Springs, or the US Mint in Denver.
10. Estes Park, Colorado
I lived here for a summer. And it was awesome. And I will probably write about it next week because Megan’s prompt is about your favorite National Park. (Rocky Mountain National Park for the win!)
12. San Diego, California
Another family trip with my paternal extended family! Lovely time visiting the beaches and enjoying the perfect weather between my freshman and sophomore years of college, but we also enjoyed visiting a docked battleship and seeing the Olympic Training Center outside San Diego!
So that concludes this week’s Travel Tuesday. I don’t necessarily plan on linking up every week, but if Megan keeps posting interesting prompts, I’ll keep writing!