50 States before they graduate

Our family is slowly working our way across the United States to visit all fifty states before our children graduate from high school.  

While working towards this goal, many times we try to plan activities that involve the image that comes to mind as we think about the state.  For example, our token Texas trip included a visit to the Alamo.

Our Louisiana trip included Cajun food, Zydeco, and, of course, a swamp tour.

But we also enjoy uncovering the hidden treasures of a place through more spontaneous trip-planning.  Since Stephen loves reading through every pamphlet we come across when we travel, it's not so tough anymore to find random things to do wherever we are. 

But on the way back from Houston, Gary and I started talking about what we considered to be the token thing to do in each state.  Like....

Go to a potato farm in Idaho.
Go to a corn farm in Iowa.  (Surely there's something else, right?)
Go to Mississippi and ride a riverboat.

But those are mainly stereotypical ideals.  When people find out my childhood roots are in Oklahoma, I've experienced the sterotype: "So, do the Indians there live in teepees?" or "You poor thing.  There's nothing in Oklahoma. It's No Man's Land."  And yet, if they just stick to those ideals of Oklahoma, they'd miss out on things like The Holy City of the Wichitas, or Medicine Park, or the Arbuckle Mountains, or Robber's Cave (a former hideout of Belle Starr and Jesse James).

And I don't want to miss the unusual, wonderful, off-the-beaten path adventures when we head to the 50 states.  So, my question to you is, where should we go if we head to your state?  What is special around your current hometown?  (If you're overseas, I'd love to hear about that, too, because we don't intend to keep ourselves limited to our home country.)  Let us know what's special about where you live!  We may even come and visit you!

Our intention is that we will eventually take all of these ideas and put them into one place so that all of us can experience Off-the-Beaten Path America, as recommended by the "experts."


Care to visit 50 states with us? How about visiting just one state? What about your own state?  If so, we would love for you to become a part of a network of families traveling the USA.  

Non-Bloggers:  If you don't have a blog, leave your comments and suggestions for your favorite state(s), or virtually visit the other states we have been to to offer your recommendations on those pages!

Bloggers:  If you have a blog, feel free to include the following button on your sidebar (although it isn't necessary) and link-up with us when you post about the state(s) you've been to!   And if we're lacking a state, it's because we haven't been there yet!  Just let me know and I can set up a place for you to link to!

Traveling America
<a href="http://www.halfahundredacrewood.com/search/label/TRAVELING%20AMERICA" target="_blank"><img src=" http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-4qCVbW-v3Hg/UblDzKbIdAI/AAAAAAAAFbI/sULr1JroM4g/s200/50-states.jpg " alt="Traveling America" width="125" height="125" /></a>

As we build up this part of our website, be sure to look for the link-ups to each of the states we have visited and link up your own blog posts - or submit a comment sharing some of the places we might have missed!  To take a look at some of the places we've been, visit our Traveling America posts:

Many Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood readers have contributed SO MUCH to our trips in the way of recommendations.  As the family planner of our trips, I am so grateful to all who have offered suggestions!  So... consider this a heart-felt THANK YOU!


  1. What a great idea! I may work on incorporating a similar quest into our home school!

  2. If you go to Iowa, check out the loess hills in western Iowa. China is the only place in the world that has higher loess hill deposits than Iowa. The movie Field of Dreams was filmed in Dyersville, IA and the site where it was filmed is open for tourists.

    1. I am going to IOWA, please tell me more.

      Thank you.

    2. Here's some information on the loess hills - http://byways.org/explore/byways/2187

      Field of Dreams - http://www.fieldofdreamsmoviesite.com/distance.html

      I also forgot to mention that Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of Little House on the Prairie series) lived in Burr Oak, Iowa for a little while. Here's some information on that - http://www.lauraingallswilder.us/

      I would also agree with Toni that Living History Farms is awesome! If you go in August, check out the state fair. It's one of the best in the nation!

      There are also some really cool covered bridges in Madison County. They are all on the National Register of Historic Places. http://madisoncounty.com/index.php?page=the-bridges

      John Wayne was also born in Iowa. You can tour his childhood home in Winterset, IA. http://www.johnwaynebirthplace.org/index.html#Tour%20Info

      Hope that helps! Enjoy your visit...I think it's a wonderful state!

    3. Hi Brandi,

      We live in Southern Maryland and I highly recommend St. Mary's City. It has a replica of a merchant ship from the 1600-1700s that one can walk on and explore. In many ways historic St. Mary's City is similar to Plymouth as docents are costumed and homes are in working condition. As it is smaller than Plymouth, I feel the experience is more intimate and open to exploration. Southern Maryland is also home to the Navy's test pilot school, where Alan Shepherd and John Glenn (among others) trained!

  3. Living History farms, outside of Des Moines, is a great place to visit in Iowa. We vacationed there (yes, we CHOSE to vacation in Iowa,...twice.) ;)

    Here in Indiana, you might consider; the sand dunes and Amish Shipshewana, our "best in the nation" Indianapolis Children's Museum (the "Power of Children" exhibit, which includes Anne Frank, Ryan White, and Ruby Bridges, is incredible), or the beauty of Nashville and Brown County.

    In Ohio (where I'm originally from), I would suggest Amish country in Holmes County, or Thomas Edison's birthplace in charming Milan. Lake Erie is just a short drive from Milan, so you could also visit one of our country's greatest natural resources.

    Love your blog, btw. Looking intently at CC right now, and deciding if it will be a right fit for our family.

  4. In Maryland I would recommend Assateaugue Island. We have 4 young boys and it is our favorite place to camp! You are right by the ocean, can see wild ponies and it's super-inexpensive. I love it!

  5. Hey Brandi! I was born and raised in Houston and my brother was born at Ft. Sill there at Lawton. :) We have lived in VA for 14 years it is a goldmine of resources for studying American History! We love it!!

    1. Another Houstonian Okie! ;) After looking deeper into VA, I now realize the wealth of things to do there! No wonder Virginia is so loved!

  6. In PA (in or near Lancaster County)... Hershey (Chocolate World & Hershey Park), Amish farms, lots of snack food company tours, Central Market in Lancaster (I believe it's one of the oldest in the country), Gettysburg, Strasburg Railroad, Sight & Sound Theater, Fulton Opera House, downtown historic walking tour of Lancaster, state farm show in Harrisburg every January, Rickett's Glen, Philadelphia, and on and on. I love traveling. I think your idea is fantastic!!!

  7. In Virginia Beach, I would check out Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, esp if you visit in the winter. Lots of birds. False Cape State Park is very close to there as well. You can only backpack or bike in. They do have trams for disabled.

  8. I am originally from North Carolina, and there are lots of great places to visit from the swinging bridge on top of Grandfather mountain and Tweetsie railroad and Mystery Hill near Blowing Rock to the Outer Banks where the Wright Brothers flew their first airplane and beautiful Jockey's Ridge, the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern United States. Not to mention all of the cool places in between, this is a great state! Oh, and don't forget to visit all of the lighthouses!

  9. Originally from South Africa, but lived in Miami, FL, for many many years. Now we're back in South Africa, soooo much to do here. We dont do the 'normal' attractions but tend to drive down little side roads to really get to know an area and the people that live in it. So here is our breakdown of SA:

    Hoedspruit: Tshukudu Lodge - Walk with 4 grown Cheetah; Marula Factory - tour the factory that makes the famous Amarula; Jessica - Visit Jessica the hippo (ok a touristy thing but wonderful); Monkey Balls - a 'factory' that makes amazing crafts with monkey fruit (we just asked and they allowed the kids to make their own candle holder for free!)

    Eastern Cape: Hermanus - The Whale Fesival in June, the best worldwide you'll get to welcome the whales arriving to calf; Battik Store - again we asked and they allowed us to make the most amazing african pillow using the traditional Zulu battik method; Wild Horses - you just walk the dunes looking for them and they are amazing and not skittish at all; Mossel Bay - Diaz (explorer) museum and oldest post office in Africa, Sandboarding the dunes (ask locals rather than use expensive companies, they know the best places too) Oudtshoorn - ride an ostich, watch a jockey race (ok another touristy thing but fun fun fun) Lighthouse, the true tip of Africa where two oceans meet; Teniqua - Cheetah and wildlife sanctuary

    Western Cape: Partenoster, best beach horse riding ever, best fish and chips right on the beach EVER!; Shelly Point - row to the lighthouse, a beauty

    Cape Town: Other than Table Mountain; Jackass Penguin Colony, make sure to visit the Green Market Square, you'll be thrilled with delightful crafts and delicious meals; Simons Town, the old naval base is fabulous; Scratch Patch, kids LOVE to dig for gem stones, see how they are polished and then sorted; Spier, a vinyard with an owl rehab

    Gauteng, Johannesburg: Carlton Center, the tallest part in JHB, have a picnic up there; Standard Bank Building in Center of town, take the lift (elevator) down and see the old mine levels, very interesting; Lory Zoo, be a ranger for a day and get to feed and care for the animals (yes even lions and panters); Bird Nest, 2010 World Cup Soccer stadium

    Gauteng, Twane: Ndebele Cultural visit, bike through the township, make traditional beaded animals

    North West: Sun City (Touristy but a must), see the Lost City and THE Palace; Pilansberg National Park, a park in the ancient Volcano protecting Rhino; Magaliesburg Goblins Cove, restaurant built around the largest trees to form a treehouse, each room better than the next; Candle Making in a tin shack; Gold Mining, panning for gold in the ancient mine, go underground, try to pull the donkey cart filled with coal

    Mpumalanga: Middelburg - Mbidi Lodge, rare white lions; Something Out Of Nothing, teaches us to reuse very uniquely to save our planet, in the location Mhluzi; Uberton Africa, Leopard project

    Mpumalanga: Dullstroom - The cutest town ever, old stone churches, 1917 Inn's

    Free State: Drakensberg - Basotho Cultural Village, Strawberry picking with a horse drawn cart, San Rock Art hiking, soooo many painting here from 1000's of year ago, varius beautiful hikes up this magestic mountain range

    I'm sure there are tons of things I have forgotten, but should any of you want to visit, please drop me a line and I will give you more info.

    Miami info - well it is foggy, so I will think about it and get back to you.

    Happy Travels

  10. Just hopped on here and love it! We are in Southern California, and have found a few places down here to be lovely, satisfying and adventurous enough for boys, a prissy momma and an executive dad.
    1. After walking around the Tijuana Estuary -bird watching, flat, beach type hiking or Torrey Pines hiking--La jolla shores, (which aren't so bad either, but contact me for complete details on not-so-touristy spots) must EATS are Cafe Chloe (more downtown, which while you're down there, visit the maritime museum--a small fleet of ships including a submarine that you can walk around in and if you time it right, sail or spend the night) Gingham (La Mesa), Terra, The Linkery, The Smoking Goat, Hash House a GoGo, True Food Kitchen, Extraordinary Desserts (downtown location).
    We also love boogie boarding in Coronado, walking through the Encinitas Botanical Gardens (eat at Luecadia Pizza if you're up there).

  11. I am not sure if you realize that Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are closed due to Hurricane Sandy.

    1. Thanks for letting us know! We may travel a bit out of the way just to see it from the NY side. Was just told that we can only see the back of it from Jersey City.

  12. If you go to Kentucky, be sure not to miss the stereotypical things - Churchill Downs in Louisville, the Louisville Slugger museum and factory there, and Mammoth Cave (one of the 7 wonders of the natural world). There's also Lincoln's birthplace in Hodgenville (yes, Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, not Illinois) and the very first Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, Kentucky.

  13. Thank you so much; this is exactly what we needed. Somebody else to do the research (along with the comments) for us and to file for road trips hopefully beginning 2014! woo hoo!

  14. I grew up in Oklahoma, but live in VA now. Your link to Robber's Cave reminded me of an adventure from my childhood. We made a weekend trip to Robber's Cave and my little brother and I were climbing on some rocks. I pulled myself up enough to look where I was going to put my hand next and there was a tarantula sitting right where my hand would have been. Ugh!!!!!!!! Good times! LOL! I love Oklahoma! :D

  15. Come to Arizona and see the Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Park in Southern Arizona!

  16. We're in the process of doing this too. My older kids are done with Foundations/Essentials, my husband works from home and we decided to take a year to get an even bigger headstart. RV style. We have just moved into an RV and are about to head out in a couple weeks to start our adventure.....dream come true, or worst nightmare with 4 kids, 2 dogs and us in a fifth wheel camper? Ha ha! Time will tell!! We told the kids if they will hang with us in the next few years in the lower 48 we'll take them to Hawaii and Alaska for their high school graduations. We're all excited about seeing God's handiwork all around our great nation!! Look forward to watching what you guys see and learn along your way so we might have even more things to look forward to!

  17. Michigan - Drive up the coast of Lake Michigan. Visit Holland, Grand Haven (swim in the lake, walk the pier) and Sleeping Bear Dunes. Stop in Traverse City for some cherries and fudge. Cross the Mackinaw Island Bridge, eat a pasty from a local vendor then take the scenic road around Lake Michigan. Drive up to Copper Harbor and watch the sunset from Brockway Mountain. Take the morning boat to Isle Royal National Park and hike to Lane Cove. Just beautiful!

    Indiana - Be sure to hit the Children's Museum downtown. You can ride bikes down the Monon Trail which runs for miles through Indianapolis. Also Turkey Run State Park has some fun hiking. Shipshewana is worth a stop over. It's a neat Amish town with some fun shopping.

  18. Love your blog. First year doing CC after homeschooling for 7 years and I am excited and overwhelmed and plan on using your blog A LOT to help light the way ;)

    Just wanted to add that Tuscumbia, Alabama was on our roadtrip map from VA to TX many years ago and still counts as one of our favorite "side trips". It is the birth place of Helen Keller and you can see the well, as well as her original home and the one built out back where she lived with Anne Sullivan. In the summer the do a wonderful little Miracle Worker play outside and the entire thing is just a quaint and surreal as it can be! It's on the north side of the state. We traveled through Chattanooga, TN from VA and dipped down into Alabama, came back up to Memphis and then kept on through Hot Springs, Arkansas and finally Dallas (our destination).

  19. If you ever visit Minnesota, we are known for our lakes. There are so many great "up north" cabins that can be rented for reasonable rates, and your family can enjoy swimming off the dock, fishing, making s'mores, etc. Or...if you like hiking, the north shore of Lake Superior is amazing, especially Temperance River State Park (one of the fastest falling rivers in the U.S.). Minneapolis/St. Paul has a lot of great cultural experiences and restaurants, but I, a proud Swede, would be remiss if I didn't recommend the American Swedish Institute. There are a lot of Scandinavians in Minnesota, and this old mansion shows off a bit of our heritage. :)

  20. This is such a great idea! I'm posting a link to some things to do in N. Alabama. There is of course the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center but you can also stay in the Shoals area and do a lot of fun and educational things. There's the Helen Keller or W.C. Handy festivals each year. http://alabama.travel/places-to-go/the-shoals. The link shows some other great ideas. Tammy

    1. Another idea is the Indian Mound Museum in Florence.

  21. We live in Southern Maryland and I highly recommend St. Mary's City. It has a replica of a merchant ship from the 1600-1700s that one can walk on and explore. In many ways historic St. Mary's City is similar to Plymouth as docents are costumed and homes are in working condition. As it is smaller than Plymouth, I feel the experience is more intimate and open to exploration. Southern Maryland is also home to the Navy's test pilot school, where Alan Shepherd and John Glenn (among others) trained!

  22. Washington State
    Pike's Place Market and Space Needle in Seattle. San Juan Islands, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier. Washington has it all from sea coast, incredible mountain ranges (real ones...the Great Smoky Mountains are pretty but these mountains will knock your socks off!) and even desserts in the middle of the state. Wenatchee, WA supplies apples all over the US and is the home of Applets and Cottlets. There are several towns that host tri events that include snow skiing, running and either kayaking or swimming in the local rivers or ocean. (Sea to Ski, Ridge to River) Spokane, WA hosted the World's Fair in the early 1900s and the downtown area, called River Front Park, is beautifully kept and has many "artifacts" from the fair. There is also a restored turn of the century hotel called the Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane....gorgeous.
    And, of course....coffee. Starbucks and my fave, Seattle's Best.
    Hope you enjoy your trip to WA some day.

  23. Iowa is known for wrestling. Go to a wrestling museum or a wrestling meet. The International Olympic Committee just voted to keep the sport part of the Olympics. Eat a tenderloin! Field of Dreams. Living History Farm in Des Moines. Effigy Mounds. Herbert Hoover museum. Go during caucus time. Don't sell Iowa short... I bet everyday you use something that came from Iowa. Pork, anything that is made with corn product, office furniture (HON) lights at a ballgame (musco lighting) Cheerios, Quaker Oats, the list goes on and on. Enjoy.

  24. Come and visit Atlanta in Georgia!!! Downtown you can see the Martin Luther Kind site (free!) and visit CNN, Coca Cola Museum and GA Aquarium (not free, but cheaper with the city pass) and if you come between April and October, make sure you go to Stone Mountain Park for the cool outdoor lasershow in the evening (only parking fee) and bring a picnic :-)

    1. Oh yes but visit Dahlonega GA too. It was the site of the first major Gold Rush in the US, even before CA! Atlanta's Capitol dome is covered in Dahlonega gold. Only 80 ounces of the stuff but its layers are so thin, that is all it took. The town is above Atlanta off GA 400 and I have to tell you it is fun. We just went down into the Gold Mine there, went panning and mining gemstones. Also you can take in a parade at the country's only Military/liberal arts college. Now that is cool.

  25. If you visit Florida, we have all of the awesome theme parks - Legoland, Disney World, Sea World, Busch Gardens, Universal, etc, BUT we also have a lot of history as well that shouldn't be missed. A stop in St. Augustine alone will give you a wonderful history lesson. For starters, there are forts, museums, and The Fountain of Youth. In Daytona, there is the Daytona Speedway which also has a cool museum that features the history of racing. There are the beaches (the Gulf coast beaches are VERY different from our Atlantic Coast beaches). Jacksonville has nice museums, SALLY Corporation (creates animatronics), and a really great Arts Market under one of their bridges on weekends during part of the year. Don't forget the Everglades, too! Lots to do down here, even without the theme parks. :)

  26. We're in the LA area of California. Skip Hollywood and Melrose, and visit Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, the CA Science Center to see the Endeavor space shuttle (try to go when there aren't too many field trips), and either of the Getty museums. The Getty Center in Westwood has impressionists and more, while the Getty Villa in Malibu has a lot of ancient artifacts (perfect with a knowledge of the ancient world) -- both are in beautiful spaces. If you drive up the coast, take the 101 rather than the 5 freeway (it's about 100 times prettier). Stop at Morro Bay if you can, and see Yosemite if you can, although I've yet to visit Bryce/Zion/Yellowstone, so perhaps Yosemite would pale in comparison. But it's nice! Thanks for all your help with CC! Enjoy your travels. :)

  27. Such a neat idea. I grew up in Arkansas and we have lived in 10 different states since we got married. Here are some fun things to do in Arkansas. In south Arkansas you can visit the Crater of Diamonds, Arkansas Museum of Natural History, and Old Washington. In central Arkansas there is Hot Springs, Heifer Village in Little Rock, USS Razorback. In North Arkansas, Visit the Norfolk Fishery, Mountain View, Blanchard Springs Caverns, ASU Museum, Crowley's Ridge State Park. There is also Eureka Springs with the Christ of the Ozarks and Thorncrown Chapel. Here is my Pinterest board for Arkansas http://www.pinterest.com/timbosbeautiful/vacations-arkansas/



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...