Spring Break Tacky Tourist Tour

Last year when gas prices were narrowing all our Spring Break travels, BirminghamMom Lisa decided to embark on a tour of an otherwise unlikely destination: Alabama. With three kids (ages 9,7, and 5) out of school, her husband worked while Lisa took the week off to shuttle her brood to a different spot almost every day, never requiring a hotel stay.

Every morning around the breakfast table at McDonald’s, Lisa presented the destination of the day along with a map so the kids could help determine the best route for driving there. As she says, “I wanted the kids to get some map skills out of this also – I can’t handle having three kids without direction!”

The itinerary might inspire you to look for the wonders that are only a short distance from our everyday existence.

Day one: Anniston to see the World’s Largest Office Chair and the Anniston Museum of Natural History.

Day two:  West to Tuscaloosa to the Children’s Hands-On Museum, Northport for lunch on Main Avenue at the City Cafe and to see the big red dog above Stephens Studio (one block down the street), then the Moundville Archaeological Park (right now the museum is closed for renovations but the rest of the park is open). There is a nature trail as well as a boardwalk hike to stretch your legs.

Day three: A day of doctor visits made more palatable for being sandwiched among the daily adventures.

Day four: North to Huntsville’s Space Museum, returning down I65 to stop in Culman at Ave Maria Grotto.

Day five: The most ambitious day, heading Northwest to Rickwood Caverns cave tour (note weekday tours this spring are only available April 13-17 this year), Natural Bridge, then Dismals Canyon to see the glow worms, or dismalites, which are known to exist in only a few places outside Australia and New Zealand. Lisa says this is a great destination for kids who can’t sit still, since there is plenty of hiking and the fun of the flashlight tour at night. (Note the spring tour schedule for dismalites hasn’t yet been posted; last year the tour was only available on Fridays).

Leaving the glow worm tour at 10 p.m. Lisa took the kids to McDonalds for a restroom break and a change into PJs, and she adds ”They were asleep before I found the road out of town.”

There are many, many worthy destinations that are within an easy drive from home. If you’re going to pare down the distance you travel during spring break, there’s no need to expect less enjoyment. Let this be the year you discover what lies down those exit ramps you normally breeze past.

For other ideas and amusements that are off the beaten path, Lisa recommends Roadside America. See what all those folks in their Airstream RVs have been discovering.