Hi, and welcome to the continuing Perspectives series we have going on here at the Guide. For the month of January we have partnered up with Brandi Kennedy from Brandi Kennedy: Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman. We have been covering the topics for this month from both a single mother and a single father’s perspective.
We have gone from products or services we have found important to how we stay sane in our single parent positions to how we can use momentum to accomplish our goals. Every aspect of life is a little bit different, depending on which perspective you have. Today we decided to cover Family Vacations in our Tuesday Travels feature as we cover vacations for single parents.
I admit, when I sat down and began to think about vacations I wanted to take with my child, I realized I could go in a million different directions. I have done posts which talk about great things to do in Southern California with your kids. So I was tempted to blog about locations only outside the State, or at least the Southern California region.
But then I got to thinking about what we wanted to convey through this series, and I realized I couldn’t talk solely about things so far away most single parents couldn’t afford such excursions. I didn’t want to make this an list of unrealizable goals you wouldn’t be able to achieve until your child was 25 and hopefully out from under your care. Or not out from under your care.
On the other hand, I am also a very goal oriented individual. I do have goals to do larger trips with my daughter. And without those things to aspire to, we tend not to accomplish much either. So I wanted to list my top ten list of places to go for single dad’s with their children, both inside and outside the Southern California region.
So without further ado, I present my “bucket list” of vacations for single parents to go with my daughter, including both more costly and less costly features.
Top Ten Vacations For Single Parents Both Inside And Outside California
10) Comic Con San Diego –
Only two hours away from the L.A. area, its easy to get down to San Diego. The great thing about San Diego is it’s mixture of both big city and smaller town feel all within it’s borders. And one of the best times to go to San Diego would be Comic Con. Ok, so it does get a little bit crazy out there, and one might have to book a hotel stay several months in advance. But given the proximity the travel would be easily doable. And you wouldn’t have to worry about Timmy and Stevie fighting while on board an air plane. (Of course if you are outside the state, that’s a whole other matter.)
But Comic Con is the blending of all different media elements your children will lose their minds over. You may have to prep them to wait in a bunch of long lines, but hopefully they will find it worth it to get up close and personal with some of their favorite stars from television, comic books, and the film world alike.
And while you are in San Diego you can go to the Mission, catch some magnificent history in Old Town San Diego, go to Sea World and get up close with the fishes, or take a walk through the Gas Lamp district and find some of the most amazing dining and entertainment experiences bar none. Plus you have the perfect weather and the ocean right next door. What could be better?
9) Yosemite –
The hardest thing about this trip for me is that it comes with some memories that I would rather forget and will not include in this post. On the other hand, in Yosemite, right in the heart of central California, you will experience some of the most magnificent vistas imaginable. From the glorious Half Dome to the El Capitan to Vernal Falls, you will see some of the greatest natural wonders in the world.
Of course you might have to choose where you are going to stay while you are there. You can go the more expensive rout with a cabin. But if your kids are a little more adventurous, you need to pinch some pennies on cost. Go during the summer pitching a tent. Camping may be the more entertaining route, anyway.
A river runs right through the heart of Yosemite Valley, and there are hiking trails all around. I cannot express how amazingly beautiful it is up there. It’s a feeling you won’t get too many other places in the entire world.
8) Las Vegas –
Ironically, this is a bucket list adventure I include myself in while going as a family. I cannot say it would be a great place to go for someone who has difficulty gambling. But if you can keep your baser nature in check and won’t spend all your vacation money at the slots, it’s a great place to take the family.
There are a ton of different adventures, sights and sounds to be had. From the roller coaster on the top of the Stratosphere to many attractions at Circus Circus, to festivals and shows going on all the time, Vegas can be some spectacular eye candy for the imagination.
7) Sacramento –
I think this trip I want to take my daughter on sparks the eternal flame of the history fan in me. I cannot tell you enough how much I loved going to Sacramento as a child and exploring all of the history contained therein. While I know each region in the world has it’s amazing and unique historical sites, to me, Sacramento is just one big historical playground.
It begins with the State Capital, which is the seat of government for California. From there it moves on to Sutter’s Fort which sits right at the center of the city. This fort was the location of one of the largest land owners in the State right around the time we had the Mexican American War. And, as crazier than this, the mill Sutter owned outside the city limits was the sight of one of the largest Gold discoveries in the world, and the cause of a vast amount of Westward expansion throughout the United States.
And if that isn’t enough, you can take in the sights and sounds from old town Sacramento. I love going through all of the shops. It feels like you have gone back in time to a bygone era where everything went by trust and gold. And then you have the incredible train museum at the heart of the city, which I love. And to top that off, on the river running through the city they have a magnificent riverboat you can stay at as well as theatrical performances going on throughout the year.
As a single parent, the cost concerns for lodging I can understand. Especially if you are having to travel more than 7 hours to get there. But there are some cheap motels just outside the city. One can stay there and drive in less than a half an hour to get to the heart of the city. Plus, they have a Jelly Belly Factory nearby you can visit as well.
6) Hawaii –
For people who know me, you may begin laughing now. I have to admit, I have one of the worst family vacation stories imaginable when it comes to going to a trip to Hawaii. It all began with my mother’s pinched nerve, continued on with my father getting fire coral stuck in his foot, and pretty much concluded with my brother losing a wallet with $300 dollars he had been saving up a year to bring with him. Basically, it was awful.
But all that being said, Hawaii represents one of the most amazing natural wonders on the face of the earth. From the incredible and active volcanoes throughout the islands to the water which looks so unimaginably blue to the historical monuments at such places like Pearl Harbor, there is a ton to do when you are in Hawaii.
I know both my parents and my brother have been able to go back to Hawaii since our fateful family vacation and they don’t have enough words to express all of the amazing adventures to be had. Snorkeling trips and expeditions throughout the islands abound. It’s definitely a place I plan on taking my daughter some day.
5) The Grand Canyon –
Honestly, I cannot believe I haven’t taken my daughter to this place yet. While it is outside the State of California, it’s only a 7 hour drive to one of the most magnificent landmarks in the world. Once you stand along the edge of the Canyon you will immediately understand why it is one of the seven wonders of the world.
Located just outside Flagstaff Arizona, it feels nothing like any of the other towns throughout the region. Honestly, it’s up into the mountains several thousand feet where pines, and snow capped hills are frequently spotted throughout the area in December. And along the banks of this great canyon lie a ton of different historical sights and artifacts one can visit. Between the natural beauty and the history, it’s a must see visit.
Three things of note. Kids need to be very responsible going up and down the trails on the banks of the canyon. The ridiculous drop should keep people more sane, but you have to know what your children are capable of.
Secondly, it’s very cold at the top of the canyon and very warm at the bottom of it. Something like a 30 or more degree temperature difference. It could be snow at the top and 80 degrees at the base. So layers is important.
And finally, when trying to stay there, recognize how you want to stay. There is the hotel right next to the canyon, which costs a ton. Or you can stay outside in the city of Flagstaff proper, which is a bit of a jaunt away, but much more reasonable. Just know your resources before you go.
4) Washington D.C. / Virginia –
Maybe this exists more as a U.S. thing, but the historical trip I made out to Washington D.C. and Virginia area was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life. Ever since I went there, I knew I wanted to go back someday. And ever since I had my child, I knew I wanted to have this experience with her.
First of all, there was Virginia, which represented all things historical for me. It birthed the first major city that lasted on the East Coast for settling. It housed some of the most amazing men in U.S. History like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. And it held many of the battles of the American Revolution. If you want to take your child to all things historical, you cannot miss on Virginia.
And then as you move into the Washington D.C. area, you will not run out of things to show your child. You have all of the amazing Smithsonian Museums, the Capital Building, The White House, The Vietnam Memorial, The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, etc.
Of course, if you want cheaper places to stay you may have to look outside of Washington. The cost of accommodations there will drain your wallet. You won’t even get to think about food or souvenirs. And you may want to rent a car as well. However, I didn’t mind the public transportation while there, so that may also be a consideration.
3) A Disney Cruise –
To be honest, I haven’t been on a cruise. And they do cost a pretty penny. But if you can get to the port in California or the one in Florida, you cannot go wrong with a Disney Cruise with your family. Just make sure you speak with a travel agent well in advance and do your research about all of the costs associated, whether this mean airplane travel or all of the amenities you might want to pay for while you are on board the cruise.
Disney takes you to all kinds of exotic locales in style. Of course there are plenty of other cruise lines which might cost a bit less. But nothing beats Disney when it comes to entertainment along the way. Whether going to a nightclub or lounge, relaxing in the spa, amazing dining experiences, things geared towards people of all ages be they teens or young ones, you will never run out of sights and sounds to discover when going on a cruise.
Of course, nothing about a cruise is particularly cheap. You are going to drop a couple of thousand dollars at a minimum. But you trade that for an experience of a lifetime with your child. I don’t think you can go wrong. Just make sure you try to book in advance as much as possible to get the best deals.
2) Europe (Italy, Greece, or France) –
Saying Europe is like saying I’m going on a trip to Africa honestly. Although there is probably more architectural and artistic wonders to see in Europe. You have so many places to see, you will never run out of locales to visit or and explore. You would never be able to take it all in, no matter how much you tried. Whether you wanted to visit Greece with it’s amazing beaches and ports of call, along with the incredible history and historical sights, or you wanted to go to Italy, see the Coliseum, visit the canals of Venice, and explore the art and culture of Florence, you would never take that in all in one go. So your possibilities for trips and tours would be endless.
So sit down with your child and figure out what things catch their interest. A child who loves literature may have more fun visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the Globe Theater in London rather than seeing bullfights in Spain or the Parthenon of Greece. Once you do, you should be able to get a round trip flight for your family for a couple to a few thousand dollars for you. Then explore the places you can get reasonable accommodations. Air BnB is a great resource when you are looking for reasonably cheap and possibly out of the way places to rest your head. They will not cost you the extravagant sums of some other hotels.
And then keep to budget when it comes to food. This is where planning and focus will come in. I know with my parents they explained to us the less we ate, the greater the opportunity to stay at a particular destination longer. We regulated ourselves. Kids love vacations too, so they will probably try harder to make things easier for you.
1) Orlando, Florida (OR) Orange County, California
Of course most people will recognize the most significant thing about these two areas immediately. They are home to two of the most incredible Disney Themed Parks out there in the United States. And yes Disney plays a big part here. But as I got to thinking about simply stating Disneyland for this list, I started to remember all of the other incredible stuff out there.
They both have Universal Studios themed parks with the amazing Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter to explore. Both have Legoland locations for the child with the engineer’s soul. They both have various water parks to choose from, and California has one of the best historical themed parks out there in Knott’s Berry Farm.
I really don’t believe you will run out of stuff to do no matter which location you choose to visit. Just make sure to do a lot of research about your options when going. You can get decent hotel options for cheaper outside of Disneyland for cheaper if you are in California. And if you are in Florida, you can get cheaper outside, but the Disney Hotels near the parks are actually quite reasonable and you can get dining passes there which decreases the cost of food as well.
Whether you choose Orlando or California, you will not run out of amazing things to do the entire time you are there. And your children will go on the adventure of a life time, which they will not soon forget. I know I have plans to go to Orlando soon. I live in California so I am here frequently anyway.
Continue the Conversation
So where are some places you would like to go with your children? And where are some of your best places you have been as a family? Do you have any specific suggestions for vacations for single parents? While I have my list of ten, I would love to discover more amazing places out there to go to with my daughter. There is nothing like being on an adventure with her.
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Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life