Freelance Writer/Publisher, Family Rambling Travel
Jody Halsted has been traveling with her children since 2004, proving to everyone who told us it couldn't be done that it can. My goal is to show parents that travel with children is not only possible but it is fun! Travel with kids doesn't have to mean Disney.
March 7, 2017
The family road trip. For many it's a means to an end, a necessary evil you must endure for the reward of a great family vacation. But it doesn't have to be that way. With over a decade of road trip experience, I've learned a few things - from keeping a change of clothes within easy access when traveling with an infant to how to settle the "she's looking out my window!" bickering that comes from too many hours of confinement.
November 29, 2016
As the holidays approach, a sense of excitement begins to vibrate through the air. Decorations are pulled from storage with joyous anticipation of an evening spent trimming the tree while family-friendly movies play on the television. Whimsical displays fill the stores, and the sounds of Christmas songs carry in the still, cool air. Celebrations abound across the US to welcome the holiday season, but these five cities take holidays with kids to a new level of wonderment and magic.
October 17, 2016
One does not arrive in Lubbock, Texas by sheer happenstance. Located on the Southern end of the Great Plains and just below the Texas Panhandle, Lubbock isn't along any direct routes to major cities or destinations. In other words, if you're coming to Lubbock, Texas, you have a reason for being here. Make the most of that visit with a side-trip to a couple of Lubbock's unique museums.
July 13, 2016
Here's a fact that may surprise you: the residents of Fort Wayne, Indiana, pay more per capita for their library than residents of large cities like New York or Boston. What would become the Allen County Library was begun by the Fort Wayne Woman's Reading Club in 1895. I'm sure they never imagined their project, designed to put books in the hands of everyone, would draw people from across the US and Canada as they searched for their family history.
February 15, 2016
One of the benefits of RVing, especially for families, is the kitchen/campfire combination. Besides the convenience of putting together a meal in the middle of nowhere, you're more likely to eat healthier foods and save money over dining out. But, no matter how well you eat in that RV, there are some restaurants across the US that are worth the stop, or even the detour and extra driving to get there. Bon appètit!
November 3, 2015
New Orleans is one of those cities that comes alive during the holidays. Though always a place to laissez les bons temps rouler, the air simply vibrates with celebration at Christmas time. My past Christmas visit was solo, courtesy of the New Orleans CVB, but reliving my trip through the photos I took really makes me want to plan a visit à deux - an adults only getaway in a grand hotel, dining on sumptuous food, and slowly window shopping along Royal Street.
August 17, 2015
Located in the heart of Illinois - just a couple hours from Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis - Champaign County is a perfect family getaway for a long weekend or a mid-week break. The central cities of Champaign-Urbana, or Chambana, as the locals call it, are a funky mix of Midwestern values and hip urban life. Filled with cultural and educational opportunities, wonderful parklands, and fresh, delicious food, you'll be planning your return visit before you leave!
June 4, 2015
I used to love watching America's Castles on A&E. The grandeur, the extravagance, the undisguised abundance of wealth that the late 19th and early 20th century 'robber barons' had to work with was simply unimaginable. One of these 'robber barons' in Chicago, a man by the name of Samuel Allerton, made his money by purchasing pork cheaply in the Midwest and selling it for a profit to the Union Army. While growing his agricultural and land holdings, Samuel Allerton became involved in finance, becoming a founder of the First National Bank of Chicago.
May 26, 2015
When you think of visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans, camping is probably the last activity to cross your mind. But if you have an RV (sorry, no tents allowed), you can comfortably glamp within blocks of Bourbon Street and laissez les bons temps rouler - let the good times roll.
May 7, 2015
The big spring trip. It's become a family tradition we all look forward to after our long Midwestern winter. This year's route took us more than 2000 miles in 10 days - from Florida, through southern Louisiana, into the heart of Texas, and back home to Iowa. After collecting R'Velle from the consignment company that cared for her over the winter, we restocked with groceries and our belongings and hit the road, our excitement for the trip ahead overriding the exhaustion of the late night flight the evening before.
February 15, 2015
My first zipline experience was a single line over Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas. Strapped into harnesses and topped with red helmets, we were taken to the rim of the canyon in an open trailer, the grand views stretched out before us. Arriving at the zipline, we were hooked to guide wires before stepping on to a wooden walkway that bounced with each step and wavered a bit in the wind. As each step took us higher above the rim of the canyon, my heart began to beat harder and faster - my fear of heights nearly causing me to turn back.
January 21, 2015
I'm not fond of winter, though I am resigned to it. Growing up in Iowa, moving to Minnesota, then returning to Iowa, it's obvious I've made my choice to deal with the harshest season. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. My kids love it, though. And, being a mom, I don't want to hold them back from experiences, regardless of my preferences.
December 23, 2014
There is no doubt that New Orleans is a city that knows how to celebrate - and Christmas is no exception. From French Quarter galleries draped in garland and wreaths to the twinkling lights decorating City Park, NOLA shares her most charming self during the holidays.
December 10, 2014
Isn't it funny how the things you tend to really enjoy you just don't do yourself Take Christmas light displays, for example. I will drive miles to see a beautiful display of Christmas lights. But in my own yard... well, we have a couple of lawn decorations. Sad, but true. Though we didn't drive to Minnesota just to view the Mankato Christmas lights, this beautiful public display in Sibley Park was a highlight of our winter weekend.
December 4, 2014
In the northern part of the center of the US lies a cluster of states affectionately known, to those of us who live here, as 'The Heartland.' Much of the rest of the US, however, knows us as 'Fly-Over Country,' the states one must 'fly over' to get to beaches, mountains, or famous amusement parks.
November 25, 2014
Christmas is a time for twinkling lights, glittering decorations and family memories. And there is no better place to experience all that and more than in Grapevine, the Christmas Capital of Texas. While other towns may decorate for the holiday, or dedicate a park area to the Season, the entire city of Grapevine is transformed from historic Dallas suburb to 'North Pole South' as enormous ornaments appear along the streets and holiday music drifts onto the sidewalks as shop doors open.
November 11, 2014
"Look Mom," my youngest says as she contently stares out our window, "it's a red-breasted warbler." Is it? I have no idea. But she is likely correct. Ever since our trip last spring to the South Dakota Birding Festival, her interest in the feathered friends that surround us at home and as we travel has increased. At a glance she can name dozens of birds, while I am lucky to squeak out a handful without help of a birding book or app.
March 25, 2014
What is your favorite nursery rhyme or story from childhood? Maybe you dreamed of being a knight or princess in a magical castle. Or did you dream of having a farm like Old MacDonald? Maybe you just wanted to click a pair of shiny red shoes together and be transported like Dorothy?
March 11, 2014
I can remember reading the 'Little House' books by Laura Ingalls Wilder over and over again as I grew up in southwest Iowa. I never grew tired of Laura's stories of life on the western frontier. And though I knew Laura was telling stories of her life, I never imagined that I would be able to visit the places where Laura once roamed the prairies. In the fall of 2012 I shared the 'Little House' books with my own girls, who loved them as much as I did (my eldest can still be found with a 'Laura book' when she has a bit of quiet time). Then, last summer, I surprised them with a trip to "visit" Laura in South Dakota.
November 12, 2013
The Black Hills of South Dakota draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, yet only a small percentage of those visitors even know of the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs - the world's largest mammoth research facility. But this isn't just a museum showing you what has been found. The dig continues. And it's as fascinating for adults as it is for children.
October 22, 2013
The signs, first many miles apart, begin to appear as you cross the border into South Dakota. As your journey continues toward the heart of the prairie, the signs become more frequent.
September 10, 2013
We don't visit many resorts in our travels, so when we do decide to visit one, we make sure it is a resort worth remembering. Though our stay at Chula Vista in Wisconsin Dells was short, the two huge waterparks, 'hidden' wavepool and comfortable golf villa made our stay memorable ' and put it at the top of my daughters' 'must return' lists.
September 7, 2013
Fort Worth is filled with incredible restaurants. You can find Texas sized steaks, succulent Tex-Mex, pit smoked BBQ, and fresh seafood. But when the people of Fort Worth want home cookin' they go to the Paris Coffee Shop.
August 6, 2013
As we drove along the prairie lined interstate that crosses South Dakota, my eldest daughter asked, "What are the Badlands like?" Doug and I looked at each other, both of us at a loss to describe this area that is neither prairie nor desert canyon, but an interesting mix of both. The best we could do was, "The Badlands are difficult to describe. You'll just have to wait and see."
July 26, 2013
The Black Hills in South Dakota are famous for their rocks. But some of the most fascinating stones are found nearly 20 stories below ground at Wind Cave National Park near Hot Springs. One of the longest caves in the world, Wind Cave is a terrific family travel destination. While the miles of prairie land above is filled with hiking trails and wildlife like prairie dogs, bison and pronghorn, the caves far below the surface offer a completely different type of exploration.
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