The grandkids are home from school and are as eager to see something outside their backyard as you are to get away from dishes and PCs. And the weather? It couldn't be better for weekend getaways.
[photo seattle max-width=150 align=right]Destination: Seattle, Washington
What To Do: From the Space Needle summit, your grandkids can giggle at ant-size people below. At the tower's base and unique to Seattle are the Pacific Science Center, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, and the Experience Music Project, where budding Bruce Springsteens and Sheryl Crows experiment on guitars and drums. Historic Pioneer Square is home to the Seattle unit of Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. (The other unit is in Skagway, Alaska.) The kids can take part in a junior-ranger program and spin a roulette-style "wheel of fortune" to see if they get rich or go bust on a fantasy trip to the Klondike.
Where To Eat: The original Starbucks is at Pike Place Market, but don't hold that against it. Pike Place Bagels are available in 15 flavors, and the numerous places offering dessert options include Sweetie's
Candy, Cinnamon Works, and Daily Dozen Doughnuts. And yes, the market is open during its current renovation project.
Where To Stay: The Mayflower Park Hotel downtown offers a variety of packages, including the Guests Gas It Up promotion, with rooms starting at $199 per night. Guests also receive a $20 gas card for each night they stay. [bluebox kayaking]This promotion ends September 30, 2011. The Hotel Monaco, which also offers several packages simultaneously, is within walking distance to Pike Place Market, the Monorail to the Space Needle, and even the waterfront.
[photo capecod max-width=150 align=right]Destination: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
What To Do: Choose your beach. The Atlantic Ocean beaches, most are part of Cape Cod National Seashore, have the mightiest surf but are chilly, best suited for human polar bears. Cape Cod Bay beaches have the longest tidal flats and include Grey's Beach in Yarmouthport, with its inviting boardwalk. Nantucket Sound beaches have the warmest waters. Night walks under the full moon at the Green Briar Nature Center in East Sandwich fill up early. Your middle schoolers will relish the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouthport, where the children's author and illustrator of sometimes macabre works lived. Art's Dune Tours in Provincetown offers — what else — dune tours.
Where To Eat: Head to any of the numerous clam shacks to chow down by the water's edge. Recommended are The Barnacle at Craigville Beach in Centerville, Spanky's Clam Shack in Hyannis and Cobie's Clam Shack in Brewster. No jackets required.
Where To Stay: The Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis maintains its own indoor water slide and wave pool. The Anchor-In, another Hyannis resort, is one of the few Cape properties right on the water.
[photo newcastle max-width=150 align=right]Destination: New Castle, Delaware
What To Do: If Colonial Williamsburg is the heavy, dangling necklace of colonial history, Delaware's Old New Castle is the rare gem. This once-thriving seaport is a collection of cobblestone streets and brick houses. Most kids are thrilled to sit inside an authentic prisoner's dock in the 1732 courthouse. No visitor to the Amstel House forgets the big blue umbrella, inspiration for Elizabeth Coatsworth’s 1940s book, The Big Green Umbrella. (Okay, so she got the color wrong.) Hands-on activities at the circa 1690 Dutch House include trying on Dutch wooden shoes. Battery Park, alongside the Delaware River, is the best place for a picnic.
Where To Eat: The colonial potpie and shepherd's pie at Jessop’s Tavern & Colonial Restaurant, housed in a 1724 brick tavern, are culinary reminders of the region's English, Dutch, and Swedish heritage. Those less adventurous can head to Porto Fino Pizza & Restaurant.
Where To Stay: The walls of the Terry House Bed and Breakfast, a circa 1860 Federal townhouse, are decked with vintage Civil War and naval photos. The Dutch Inn is a motel built in the 1950s. Its brick construction and tiled baths show your grandchildren that motels were not always made of plastic.
[photo breckenridge max-width=150 align=right]Destination: Breckenridge, Colorado
What To Do: Take the grandkids to Breckenridge Fun Park, which opens June 17 this year. The most daring kids can train like astronauts in the Spin Cycle, the next best thing to tumbling inside a running washing machine, or attach themselves to a bungee cord and bounce on a power trampoline. Those without the nerve of a Marine can pan for gemstones, enter a human maze, or simply ride the chairlift. The finest attraction might be Breckenridge itself, a breathing relic from the golden days of mining and seemingly made just for walking.
Where To Eat: Downstairs at Eric's serves burgers and pizza. While waiting for dinner, the kids can pass time in the arcade. For breakfast and brunch, try Daylight Donuts, where old license plates and photos hide the walls.
Where To Stay: Breckenridge Ski Resort's Summer in the Rockies package includes a free night's lodging after two nights paid. Rather go independent? Pack up to seven of your clan into the attic Organ Loft family room at the Fireside Inn, a bargain at $92 a night.
On June 15, 1776, colonial lawmakers at the Old New Castle courthouse passed a resolution to separate from Great Britain and Pennsylvania, creating the state of Delaware.
The height of Seattle's Space Needle is 605 feet, or approximately 1,320 Milky Way candy bars.
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