Do you like to take the kids to unusual destinations?


Part 2

In my last article I talked about the two ways to take a road trip: “Just Go” and “Scenic.”  I know that my family is more of the “Scenic” road trip type so when we take a road there is a lot of planning.  However, being a travel agent, it is very easy for me to plan a trip.  I love to find unusual destinations to stop along the way.  On our recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina we decided to take a “Scenic” trip stopping at different destination on the way to. 

Luray Caverns

Our first stop was to the Luray area of Virginia.  This area is well known for their caverns, battlefields, and universities.  Our goal was to leave very early from Pittsburgh, transitioning the kids from bed to car and start away.  The kids had another way they wanted to leave and that was getting up early and just going.  It took us about four and a half hours to get from Pittsburgh to New Market, Virginia where we ate lunch in the small town.  This town may be small but is full of pride for Stonewall Jackson and antiques.  Many of the buildings had numbered plagues on them indicating they were a historic building. I find that these towns are treasures because they have decided to preserve their history and show their pride for the history. 

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is EAT!  Road trips that lead you to smaller towns means good home-style cooking.  However, if your kids are picky eaters like mine this can be difficult.  What I have found is that if you are eating at a family owned restaurant, simply ask if they can make something for your child that may not be on the menu like spaghetti or a grilled cheese.  Don’t be afraid to ask because you never know what amazing dish they will be able to make for your kids. 

Mary at Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns

Our main reason for stopping in the Luray area was to visit Luray Caverns.  With so many caverns to visit in the area including Endless Caverns and Shenadoah Caverns to name a few, I wanted to visit Luray Caverns.  I had been there as a child but didn’t remember it.  I wanted to go with my kids to relive that experience.  When we pulled up to the parking area I was surprised by the amount of on-site activities.   There was a Garden Maze, a Rope Climb, Car Museum, Toy Junction Museum, Gold Mining, and wine tasting all on property. 

Josh and the kids at Luray

We opted to do the caverns first because the tour is a little more than one hour with a walking distance of 1.25 miles.  The caverns are very well maintained and some of the areas are paved with cement so it is very easy to walk through.  Having two little kids one of my major concerns were areas with large drops offs.  However, after going through I didn’t find that it had more than two areas that caused me major concerns.  Those areas were very well protected.  The lightening in the caverns was much better than I expected.  All the lights on sensors so they will go off when there is no movement in an area.  Most importantly, I didn’t have to worry about any hiding spaces.  Overall, our family really enjoyed the time we spent at Luray Caverns including the Gold Mining. 

NOTE: Strollers are not recommended.  If someone in your party with mobility issues this may cause them difficulties as there are areas that are steep.  A body carrier is the best way to go through the cabin with very little ones.

A wonderful day spent at the caverns, now onto the next adventure.  The North Carolina Zoo!  Our next stop on our scenic road trip the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, North Carolina.  This zoo is one of my favorite zoos to visit. Having lived in North Carolina for many years, it was exciting to get to go back with my kids. 

mavis at nc zoo
elephant at zoo

I must warn you though, this zoo is massive in size and requires a lot of walking.  My recommendation would be bring a stroller for little kids.  There are nice playgrounds, the food is good, the exhibits are nicely set up, and some amazing animals.  If you have the chance to get to this zoo, give yourself at least the day to get through the entire zoo. 

The kids gave these two unusual destinations, 2 thumbs up!  They agree…Life is Better Traveling!

Click here for Part 1 of this article:

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Mary Yohannan lives in the Baldwin-Whitehall area of Pittsburgh. She moved to Pittsburgh over 2 years ago with her husband and 2 beautiful children. Mary owns her own travel agency Life is Better Traveling™, LLC which has helped hundreds of families take amazing vacations to Disney®, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, and all over Europe. She is also the founder of the Travel Agent School Supporting Learning and Education™ or T.A.S.S.L.E, which has the How to Become a SUCCESSFUL Travel Agent program™, a one-stop, all-inclusive program for someone who wants to become a Successful Travel Agent. Mary earned the distinguished honor of the Certified Travel Associate (CTA) through the Travel Institute in 2016, and has several other travel and tourism certifications. Mary has traveled to over 20 countries on 3 continents, but it wasn’t until she had children did she learn that traveling with little ones is a completely different, and sometimes challenging, traveling experience. Mary’s authentic passion for travel and traveling with her children has given her extensive knowledge on the best tips, tricks, and hacks to keep kids calm, entertained, and well-behaved while traveling. She posts a variety of travel tips and tricks on her highly coveted, High Content Life is Better Traveling website, but she has a lot of great advice on traveling with kids that she can’t wait to share with all those amazing Pittsburgh Moms.