Take a stay-cation right here in Iowa

Posted June 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm

BABBLING BROOKS column–Express Editor Kim Brooks

It’s that time of the year. School is out for the summer. Temperatures are on the rise. Kids are itching to get out of the house and have some fun.

It’s also time for those family vacations; time away from home, work and the daily grind.

Growing up, my family went away most every summer. I grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz. Before my younger sister was born, we’d travel to the mountains in Arizona to visit my grandparents for an extended period of time.

One vacation of a lifetime that I have no memory of, though I’m sure I was quite excited at the time, was a family trip to Disneyland in California. I had many pictures taken with the various Disney characters, however, my mom reminds me that I was terrified of The Big Bad Wolf. (What 3-year-old wouldn’t be?!)

Once my sister was born, we took a family trip to Iowa (We lived in St. Louis at the time.) to see my mom’s family. I remember running all over the family farm with my cousins, riding the four-wheeler and playing in their tree house.

When we lived in St. Louis on an army base, every summer my grandparents visited on their way to Arizona from Iowa, we had to take a trip to the St. Louis Arch and ride to the top. This was a yearly ritual with our family. To this day, I can’t tell you how many times we visited the Arch, too many to count.

Like most summer vacations, there were times when we went to zoos, amusement parks like Six Flags and trips to see family across the country.

As I got older, we took an extended weekend drive to Chicago to walk along Navy Pier. If you’ve never visited that area, you’re in for some fun! There’s something for everyone at the Pier, plus looking out over Lake Michigan’s clear blue water is quite beautiful!

Kids of all ages (adults, too) love waterparks! We’ve visited those as well over the years.

With so many places to go all over the country, there are just as many landmarks and vacation attractions here in Iowa!

Just recently, the Monticello library brought a representative from Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines to introduce kids to several animals who adapt to their habitats. This was part of the Summer Reading Program.

I’m sure you’ve taken a day trip to the Amana Colonies outside Cedar Rapids to taste the great home-cooked food and browse the great shops.

What kid didn’t visit Adventureland growing up? (Heck I love going there still at 28 years old!)

For the adults looking to get away, Eastern Iowa has a great trek through several wineries in the area.

During the summer holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July through Labor Day, many counties and towns in Iowa throw family-friendly festivals, including the City of Monticello.

During tough economic times and high gas prices, stay-cations are just as much fun as an extended vacation. These are day trips or weekend trips you can take in your own area to save money. Iowa is full of stay-cation destinations.

This past week, I covered and attended a seminar here in Monticello given by the Iowa Department for the Blind on behalf of the Jones County Vision group. I went into the event with little to no knowledge about their mission, but left with a huge appreciation for what they do!

While only a couple of the attendees are completely blind, the others placed sleeping masks over their eyes to simulate blindness as they attempted to complete certain tasks. After they were done and evaluated how they did, I think it left everyone with a huge appreciation for the things we take for granted in our daily lives.

This was a huge eye-opening experience (excuse the pun). If you or someone you know is dealing with vision loss or vision problems, the Jones County Vision group is a great resource!

Bla