TOP TEN TESTED & APPROVED VACATION DESTINATIONS
by Marketing Specialist Lindsey Klyn
We’ve almost made it through winter, the start of spring is in sight, and summer vacation plans might be starting to brew in your mind. Did you know that in addition to hosting March Madness and the start of spring, March is also National Athletic Training Month? At Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy, we have a dozen athletic trainers on our team, and we’ve asked ten of them to share their favorite vacation destination to help with your summer vacation planning.
WASHINGTON DC – If you love learning about history like Tim Vander Wilt does, then Washington DC might be the perfect option for your next vacation! Tim and his wife and four kids visited DC in July 2015 and loved this destination.
If you decide to go to Washington DC, Tim recommends catching these three sites:
- Visit the monuments – especially the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Martin Luther King monuments
- Go to the Holocaust Museum – Tim and his wife Laura left the kids with Grandpa and Grandma while they went and explored this museum, and he recommends making sure your kids are old enough before bringing them along. But if you can stomach the horror of the Holocaust, this is an experience that will leave a lifelong impact.
- Stop by the American History Smithsonian– Enjoy seeing cool artifacts like the hat Abraham Lincoln was wearing the night he was assassinated and more from the history of the US.
LEADVILLE, COLORADO – If you love sports and nature like Matt Scotton does, then Leadville might be the place for you! Matt and his wife and girls have enjoyed going to Leadville every summer since 2010. In addition to beautiful mountains, Matt says this small town has genuine and friendly people who understand and appreciate nature.
These are Matt’s favorite activities in Leadville:
- Participate in a Leadville Race Series event – Matt’s participated in 17 of their run and bike races!
- Explore Birdseye Gulch and Mosquito Pass – Matt and his wife Sandy love to explore the mountains in their jeep! If you don’t have a jeep, you can rent one from a town just 40 minutes away. These are their two favorite jeep roads depending on if you like brushy valleys or high elevation shelf roads.
- Eat at High Mountain Pies – This fun restaurant features great pizza and salads. The inside dining is small, but the outside dining is fun because of the interesting people and animals you can observe while you eat.
THE BLACK HILLS, SOUTH DAKOTA – Laura Norberg loves being out in nature which is why Custer State Park in the Black Hills is her recommended vacation destination. She’s been there many times as a kid and as an adult, and most recently traveled there in July 2016 with her almost two-year-old daughter (and she was three months pregnant!). Her three highly recommended activities include:
- Go hiking – There are so many trail heads to choose from for a new hiker or an experienced hiker. You are always guaranteed to see beautiful scenery and maybe catch a glimpse of unique wildlife on your hike.
- Go for a drive through the Wildlife Loop at Custer State Park – It’s possible to see wildlife anywhere in this area including deer, antelope, mountain goats, elk, coyotes, burro, bighorn sheep, birds, turkeys and prairie dogs. But in the wildlife loop in Custer State Park, the buffalo roam! Sometimes, you get so close you could almost pet a buffalo, although Laura recommends not doing that.
- Visit Mount Rushmore – Though not located directly in Custer State Park, this National Memorial is worth the short drive to see. Laura says it’s a majestic sight to see and really makes you feel patriotic!
MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA – If you enjoy the beach and sightseeing, Dustin Briggs says Myrtle Beach might be the vacation for you. He and his family visited Myrtle Beach last June. If you’re to visit the area, he recommends these things to do:
- Visit Magnolia Plantation in Charleston – Dusty recommends making the two hour drive down the coast to check out the historic plantations in Charleston. They enjoyed their visit to Magnolia Plantation, dubbed Charleston’s most visited plantation, as they got to do a tour of the main house and a wildlife tour of the grounds with free range alligators.
- Spend time on Myrtle Beach – This is probably the top reason worth vacationing in Myrtle Beach as the city offers a 60-mile string of beaches with stunning views of the ocean.
- Visit Broadway at the Beach– This outdoor shopping area is South Carolina’s favorite travel destination and the largest entertainment venue of its kind in the state. Dustin and his family especially enjoyed eating sushi at Art Burger and Sushi on the boardwalk. In fact, he says their sushi is the best sushi he’s ever had!
DISNEY WORLD, ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Rachel Johnson has two young daughters (5 and 7) which might explain part of why her favorite vacation destination is “The Happiest Place on Earth”! They’ve gone in January 2016 and January 2018 and loved it both times. It has a magical atmosphere and allows you to be a kid again, without anyone judging you. Rachel recommends:
- Staying at Art of Animation – Our stay here was amazing and great for people with kids. It’s one of Disney’s newest resorts. Art of Animation has 4 themes: Little Mermaid, Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars. Rachel’s family stayed in the Little Mermaid rooms, which were decorated in detail. The shower was Ariel’s grotto, the dresser was a treasure chest, and the head boards were clamshells. It’s those little details that made the hotel special for the kids.
- Dine with princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Disney World has many food options, but Rachel’s favorite was this princess meet-and-greet (which gets booked up 6 months in advance so make sure to plan ahead and get a reservation!). It’s very pricey but also makes it very easy to meet five princesses. The meal starts with an all you can eat, self-serve appetizer bar which makes it hard to save room for the delicious main course and of course their dessert platter.
- Watch the Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After night show – This show integrates video projection on Cinderella’s castle with fireworks in the background. Everything is perfectly timed and leaves you in awe at the end of the day. This twenty-minute show alone is worth the price of admission. The Animal Kingdom’s more peaceful night show is their second favorite show.
ESTES PARK, COLORADO – If you love the mountains and being outdoors, Ashley Beekman highly recommends visiting Estes Park in Colorado! Since Ashley had never seen the mountains, she and her husband decided to road trip to see them for their honeymoon. They loved it so much that they’ve returned every year since! They continue to explore different areas of Colorado including Colorado Springs, Golden, Denver, Loveland, and Grand Lake.
These are Ashley’s three favorite activities from their Colorado vacations:
- Rocky Mountain National Park – She recommends driving up Trail Ridge Road (“a highway to the sky”) where you will experience the Rocky Mountains and all its wonders slowly making your way up into the tundra and reaching its highest points of 12,183 feet elevation. There is also hiking galore within the park and is where they spend a vast majority of their time while visiting Estes Park.
- Red Rock Amphitheatre – A short trip down the mountains from Estes Park is Morrison, Colorado, just outside of Denver. This site is commonly used for its beautiful acoustics, hosting several concerts a year. While the Beekmans haven’t witnessed a concert there yet, she still recommends checking out this spot for the views and a good workout. She and her husband enjoy running each aisle to add a little spice to their sightseeing.
- Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods — This is the perfect combination to enjoy all in a day. Ashley recommends starting your day off experiencing negative thirty-degree wind chills at Pikes Peak and then continuing down to Garden of the Gods with a beautiful fifty degrees and sunny hike. She recommends packing a picnic lunch to enjoy at Garden of the Gods and the fried donut and hot chocolate at Pikes Peak.
CLEVELAND, OHIO – If you’re a major Indians fan like Amanda Enochs, Cleveland might seem like an obvious pick for your next vacation! But even if your MLB ties lie with another team, Amanda believes Cleveland is worth checking out.
Her favorite things to do in Cleveland include:
- Watching a baseball game at Progressive Field – Amanda’s a long-time Cleveland Indians fan, but even if you don’t root for them, you’re likely to enjoy checking out this baseball field.
- Take a hike – Amanda recommends checking out the trails at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Check out unique sights like Beaver Marsh and Brandywine Falls.
- Visit the Christmas Story House & Museum – Did you know you can tour the home from “A Christmas Story” while in Cleveland? Check out original props, costumes, and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of behind-the-scene photos from the movie.
PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO – If you’re looking to leave your cares behind, kick back, and relax, then Kaity’s got the place for you. Kaity’s favorite vacation destination is out of the country and the place she and her husband went to for their honeymoon: Riu Palace Pacifico in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She loved this vacation because it was all inclusive, her first time out of the country, and her first time seeing the ocean.
Here are three activities Kaity recommends if you visit Puerto Vallarta:
- Stay at Riu Palace Pacifico – This all-inclusive resort features two buffets and three themed restaurants. Each night, the resort has a different theme and entertainment.
- Relax at the pool or beach -– Kaity says Riu Palace has a nice sized pool with a swim up bar and beach front. The resort hosts different activities around the pool, including water aerobics. In addition to the pool, be sure to spend some time relaxing and napping on the beach!
- Go on an extreme adventure – Kaity and her husband did an extreme excursion which included zip lining, dune buggy rides, net climbing, and rope walking and highly recommend any of these activities for a change of scenery from relaxing at the resort.
GALENA, ILLINOIS – If you’re looking for a closer getaway, Galena is a fun destination to check out and a favorite spot for Erica Guinane. She and her husband went here in the summer of 2016 for a weekend getaway. They enjoyed exploring the town and gorgeous surrounding countryside.
Erica recommends checking these things out if you find yourself in Galena:
- Check out the local shops – Galena is home to tons of cute and unique little shops! Shops like Galena Canning Company where you can sample their sauces, dips, and more before choosing which one to purchase and Galena’s Kandy Kitchen are sure to keep all members of your family happy during this shopping day out. However, Erica’s favorite shop is Choclat’, a homemade chocolate and fudge shop. She recommends trying their truffles!
- Visit the Belvedere – Galena is home to several historic sites, including the home of President Ulysses S. Grant, but Erica’s top historic site to visit is the Belvedere. This 1857 Italian mansion overlooks the river and features green drapes from Gone With the Wind!
- Have dinner at Vinny Vanucchi’s Little Italy – Erica says there’s tons of great restaurants and cafes to enjoy in Galena, but her favorite is the eggplant parmesan at Vinny Vanucchi’s Little Italy!
FORT MYERS BEACH, FLORIDA – Heather Pilcher’s family loves being outdoors by the water, which is why Fort Myers is their favorite place to vacation! This beautiful beach destination faces the Gulf of Mexico and offers a variety of activities to make this vacation a memorable one.
Heather’s favorite Fort Myers activities include:
- Visiting Sanibel Island – Home to 250 kinds of shells, 230 kinds of birds, and 15 miles of beaches, you’re bound to enjoy your time walking around this beautiful island. Heather and her family especially enjoy looking for seashells and visiting the lighthouse.
- Take a jet ski dolphin tour – This fun tour with Holiday Water Sports takes you around the south side of the island where you can see dolphins, fish, manatees, and a wide variety of birds, all while driving your own jet ski!
- Explore Lover’s Key State Park– This Florida State Park offers plenty to explore. Take a hike, look for shells, and go for a swim in the ocean! While you’re here, you’re likely to see a variety of wildlife. In fact, Heather’s family has seen dolphins, manatees, jellyfish, and lots of birds during their time here.
So there you have it! If you end up visiting one of these places for your summer vacation, be sure to email us about it and send us a photo! We’d love to hear about your trip and hope that wherever you vacation to next, you make lots of great memories!