Sometimes, the unexpected decisions turn out to be the best ones. As summer began, our family travel plans were looking like a visit to New York City and a few days at a beach along the U.S. Gulf Coast. But funny what can happen when I sit down with a map and start exploring possibilities. Puerto Rico is what can happen, and out of that unexpected decision came a beach vacation gem: the San Juan Marriott Resort.
Family travel can be so overwhelming and full of challenges for parents who prefer unique destinations instead of amusement parks and beaches. Yes, finding bed-and-breakfast inns that will welcome a child, awesome chef-driven restaurants that aren’t too stuffy for children and cultural attractions the kids won’t find boring is pretty hard. But the biggest challenge I’m discovering? It’s scheduling family travel around school.
We’ve visited New York City numerous times through the years, from a whirlwind weekend of seeing all the highlights to separate guys’ and girls’ weekends, to an anniversary getaway. My wife and I have seen New York from so many different angles, and we have numerous New York City favorites. New York is possibly our favorite city in the world, and earlier this summer we decided to introduce our 7-year-old son to the joys of it and watch him create his own New York City favorites.
Writing the above headline makes me think of the line from “Sweet Home Alabama” when Reese Witherspoon’s character says to an old high school friend, “You have a baby … in a bar!” Yes, we visited a casino with our 7-year-old son. We decided to drive south of Memphis to the Mississippi gaming community to discover if kid-friendly Tunica really does exist. We were only in Tunica County for a night, but it was long enough to have a little family fun at Gold Strike at MGM Resort.
As I type this, it’s 12:34 a.m. on the first night of a two-night stay in a cabin at the KOA campground near Starkville, Miss. I’m the only one awake, and I like it that way. My son is sound asleep on the futon couch behind me. My wife has fallen asleep reading in the bedroom. I’m sitting at the kitchen table with one of the music channels on the satellite TV blaring music just above my line of sight. At 12:35 a.m., this Sierra Nevada is still cold and as refreshing as ever. Life is good on this “camping” trip.