The Griswalds are home from vacation. (Thus my recent lack of posts.)
And perhaps I should rephrase that first sentence. I'm not sure if the word "vacation" is entirely appropriate when taking a long car trip with two small children. Especially when that car trip involves a Toyota Corolla (we're too cheap for a sedan, much less an SUV or minivan) and the glaring lack of a portable DVD player.
So we helped boost the Wisconsin tourism industry. And from the lack of crowds, I think it needed a little boost. We hit two of the major Sconie hot spots: the Wisconsin Dells and Door County.
So I'll be honest. I'm a snob when it comes to the Dells. In summertime, I avoid the place like the plague. If we go at all, it's wintertime when you can find amazing last-minute deals to play in 80-degree indoor waterparks while there's a blizzard outside. Plus you avoid the masses of out-of-state tourists.
But last weekend some of those tourists happened to be my husband's family, in town for his nephew's baseball tournament - so we trekked up to the Dells. And we all had an absolute blast water-parking with Grandma and the cousins.
Just about everything was kid-friendly, from in-room pizza delivery to kid-sized patio furniture, to drive-thrus and convenience stores on every corner, to the fun-to-look at gaudiness everywhere you looked. Everything's entertaining in the Dells. And the kids burn so much energy at the waterparks that they're too exhausted to act up - and there's little fuss at bedtime.
I love Door County. I've been going every year since I was 14. It's quaint and charming, with homegrown cherries, friendly shopkeepers and melt-in-your-mouth fudge.
Excitement in Door County is watching the sunset with an ice cream cone. It's an afternoon on the golf course or a bike ride through the lakeside trails at Peninsula State Park. You'll find nary a drive-thru. But there are endless little stores to explore and fish boils and supper clubs.
But I'm sad to report that the place is much less inviting when you've got two little wild men at your hip. A leisurely dinner can be excruciating. Shops with antiques, art or glassware can be migraine-inducing. One store, billing itself an "olive oil bar," had large signs on the front door forbidding strollers and anyone under the age of 13. If it weren't for my lovely parents, who met us up there and helped watch the kids, we probably wouldn't have ventured much beyond our resort.
I don't mean to trash Door County. I still love it there, and we certainly came across pockets of kid-friendliness. But bottom line: With kids, the Dells is the place to go.
1 year ago