So we’re not exactly summer people. I mean, have you seen my kids? They tend to glow in pictures. And I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked if I have stock in sunscreen. So instead of taking the traditional family summer vacation, we’ve made it a tradition to go in the fall.
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We started this tradition when our oldest was 2-1/2 and an only child. Always looking to save money, I found a great deal on a lakeview cabin on Grand Lake through a rent by owner website. When we arrived, we realized that the cabin was actually a converted detached garage! It wasn’t exactly what I had pictured, but it was cute on the inside, and had all the conveniences that I wanted – bathroom, shower, kitchen, and even satellite TV. (Satellite TV is a must when we travel on fall weekends. Byron can’t miss out on OSU football!) The owners took us out on their boat and even let our daughter steer! During that weekend, we picnicked, explored Little Blue Disney State Park, and roasted marshmallows over a campfire. Our daughter LOVED roasting marshmallows!
The next year we tried out a different cabin rental on Grand Lake, also booked through a rent by owner website. This place had cabin and RV park rentals, and since it served more people, it had a decent playground for the kids. We had added a son to our family earlier in the year, so we were traveling with a 3-1/2 year old and a 6 month old – -having a playground was a bonus. Turns out, that playground was the highlight of our trip…
Our son was a very mellow and quiet baby. (Total opposite of our daughter. When she was a baby, we would talk about how boring other babies were. Then our son came along, and he was just like those babies we had termed “boring”. Of course, we would never have thought our baby was boring. And we didn’t mind following up our high-maintenance first child with an easy-going second child.) We took the kids to the playground, and Byron began hitting a tetherball while holding our son. That baby let out a belly laugh, and couldn’t stop!
We spent lots of time outdoors, exploring, crunching through the leaves, and throwing rocks in the water. It wasn’t hot and we weren’t having to constantly reapply sunscreen! It was so nice to be outdoors and have time away as a family. We decided to make it our tradition.
Over the last four years, we have moved away from having a “lake” vacation and have been making the rounds staying at Oklahoma state parks. State parks have so much to offer, and the price of a cabin rental is comparable to renting a hotel room. We have been to Robbers Cave, Greenleaf, Tenkiller, and this year, Osage Hills. Our state park stays have been great! We knew exactly what we were getting, the cabins had all the amenities we were looking for, and there was plenty to do on site.
Now that we have made this fall getaway for 6 years in a row, we’ve established a pretty solid tradition, and have determined 5 simple ingredients for a perfect fall family getaway.
5 Simple Ingredients for the Perfect Fall Family Getaway
- Build a campfire. The kids had so much fun searching for twigs to help start the fire.
- Roast hot dogs & make s’mores. S’mores. Need I say more?
- Hiking/exploring. Living in town, our kids don’t have the freedom to explore nature that often. I love seeing the excitement in their eyes when they find, let’s say, *another* acorn. Seriously, their pockets and my backpack were full of them by the time we made it back from our hike at Osage Hills. I also enjoy the opportunity to nerd it up and recite nature facts that I learned in 4H. 🙂
- Play. Each of the state parks that we’ve been to have had a great playground for the kids to swing and climb on.
- Go fishing. This is one we added last year. *The kids LOVED fishing in the stocked children’s pond at Tenkiller State Park. We fished in the lake at Osage Hills this year, but the kids lost interest after a while because the fish weren’t biting. Maybe fish don’t like hot dogs…
Also, after 6 years, I’ve come up with a pretty complete packing checklist. I am a list maker. The year that we went to Robbers Cave, I decided that I was not going to make a list. I was stressed out, for no other reason than being pregnant with #3, and thought for some reason that winging it would alleviate that stress. Aaand we forgot the food.
To prevent this fiasco from happening again, I created a packing checklist that I can print out for every trip. Learn from my mistakes and download this packing checklist for free!
Help us plan our next fall getaway! Where are your favorite places to visit in the fall? What are your favorite activities?