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Old 06-11-2006, 10:43 PM   #1
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Wisconsin - HELP!

A year ago we purchased a home out of foreclosure. All of our time, money and energy have gone into this project and time spent camping,working on our vintage camper, free time and our sanity have suffered as a result. So despite being completely broke, we've decided to take a much needed vacation.

So here's the dillemma. We plan to visit Wisconsin - preferably the south-east area (keeping gas prices in mind) and doing it on a very tight budget. Can anyone recommend state parks or even horrible themed privately owned campgrounds (jellystone, flintstones, etc.) with activities that would be thrilling for our boys (two little guys - 6 and 2) in that area? We want this vacation to be exciting for them (and us) despite the fact that we blew the vacation budget on our shack. We're pretty easy to please. And my boys would probably enjoy a free factory tour even more than a ride on Space Mountain, anyway.

All input would be appreciated!
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Old 06-12-2006, 01:01 AM   #2
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Wish I knew more about WI. I always like the airplane museum at the EAA (experimental aircraft association) center in Oshkosh, but there's no rides for little guys. A few years from now and it would be just the thing for them, especially during the great air show at the end of July.
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Old 06-12-2006, 05:29 AM   #3
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If they can handle a lot of visual stimulation, try Dr. Evermore's Sculpture Garden outside of Baraboo. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attra...ARforever.html

It's free!
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Old 06-12-2006, 06:26 AM   #4
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madison wisconsin

lava,

madison wisconsin might be a good choice, there are plenty of things to do here with kids. our new community pool just opened today, we have a very nice childrens museum and vetrans museum just steps away from the state capitol grounds.

county campgrounds in the area are nice, we are trying out our newest county site this weekend with some friends and neighbors. it is called lake farm and can be found on the list here. http://www.co.dane.wi.us/lwrd/parks/parklist.asp
sites run about 22 dollars a night for water and electric, you can make reservations if you are staying 2 or more nights.

what time were you planning vacating? there are a couple of large events coming up soon, the taste of madison and art fair on the square might me fun to attend also.

john

mark, good tip on dr. evermore. i have 3 of his sculptures in my front yard!
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Old 06-12-2006, 06:33 AM   #5
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oops almost forgot!

just north of madison are two more kid friendly attractions.

http://www.mcrwy.com/ for train buffs, very cool!

http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/circusworld/ circus world museum.

both are less than an hours drive from madison.

john
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Old 06-12-2006, 06:39 AM   #6
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Chain of lakes state park (IL) is right on the border 5 miles from my house. Fishing and boating as well a bike trails. Glacier morrine state park (WI) is nice state park on WI 67 20 miles north of the border. Govenor Dodge state park is right by House on the Rock west of Madison. Also cave of the Mounds and Sring Green are ckose. Illinois Beach park is in Zion IL right on Lake Michigan.
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Old 06-12-2006, 07:43 AM   #7
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Kettle Moraine St. Park is outstanding. Also the Lake Geneva area has natural beauty as well as some of the kid-attractions you want.

If you really want kid-friendly and have money for the water slides and the like, go to Jellystone in Wisconsin Dells. They have the usual Jellystone stuff including pool and mini golf, but in town are hundreds of the water-slide types of attractions.
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Old 06-12-2006, 09:23 AM   #8
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Not sure if tractors are your thing but this is the time of year for some great shows. Plug in WI and the month you'll be there. Should be something around. Tractor shows are reasonably priced, family oriented, lots of food, flea markets and just plain fun. Your little guy might not understand it all but the 6yo would have a blast. Lots of Grandpa types would be glad to let him sit in that big old seat and make putt putt sounds. You might find some free or cheap parking there too.
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:34 PM   #9
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kids are fun

A child of these ages favorite toy is their parents. They will be very happy to just go to a public park and have you swing them or push them on a merry go round. we took 3 grand kids on a 5 week vacation in 2000. we went from near Houston Tx to Glacier NP in Montana. Took them to see wildlife, geysers. fossil digs . They enjoyed it all, but they had as much fun with a campfire weiner roast and the playgrounds. They get too tired with big days of excitment. The main reason for a vacation is to enjoy family and relax so go and enjoy simple free time with them while they are little and they will want to go again and again. Our grandkids are teenagers now and they want waterparks and extreme rides at amusment parks. Kay
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:54 PM   #10
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All of this stuff sounds so fun, but the weiner roast sound like my personal favorite. Carnegie, you win Grandparents Of The Year! They're going to be thrilled with collecting rocks wherever you go.

Maybe alternate free day/visit an attraction day or let the kids determine the pace. Postcard collection or let them take pictures of the trip and put them in an album and follow the route on a map with them, stick it on a wall and let them put stickers on the map as you go.

This sounds like so much fun...can I come too? I want to roast weiners!
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Old 06-15-2006, 09:09 AM   #11
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Hi everyone and thanks so much for your insight and help! We will be leaving on June 25 and staying up until the 4th. No reservations as of yet....I was raised in a family with a self employed, impulsive dad. We'd be sitting around one day and dad would say, pack up your stuff, we're leaving in an hour and we would hit the road. We had a motorhome. Never a destination in mind - he'd let us decide where to go. He would stop at the biggest ball of twine if we showed an interest. It was a wonderful way to vacation, though stressfull to certain personality types (like my husband) to just hit the road without reservations or plans. But having a camper is like being a snail - your home is always right behind you. And Walmart is a fun place to spend the night in a pinch.

That Sculpture Garden is a must see! That's right up my alley. Think the kids would like it, too.

Trains, circus museum, tractors, art fair, sounds like we will find lots and lots of fun things to do.

Armed with a travel guide, state park pamphlet, and some weiners, I think we can make this little getaway very fun. ANd I love the idea of letting the kids make their own scrapbooks with photos that they take.

So glad I asked and thanks to all for your help!
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Old 07-04-2006, 10:52 PM   #12
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We're back!

And what a time we had - thanks to the help of our forum friends. I'm so glad I asked for help. Nothing beats good old word of mouth.

We started out low key - a couple of nights in small campgrounds where our boys enjoyed swimming, digging in the sand, fishing, catching fireflies, roasting weenies (thanks for the help,Carnegie!) and reading the camping-themed kids books we stocked up on at our local library the morning we left home. I tried to turn my 6 year old on to scary type chapter books......but he was very freaked out by them. Maybe next year. WE also checked out many family movies to watch in the evening as we wound down for bed. Hey hey hey! We watched "Fat Albert!"

Nights 3 and 4 were spent in Lake Geneva (thanks, PWRSRK!) where Grandma and Grandpa met us and treated us to a room at Timber Ridge in Grand Geneva where we spent more than enough time chasing the boys through pools, slides, and floating in a moat (am I getting old? Or is the water park overrated?) The kids loved it and we took a free tour of the Jelly Belly factory.

Next stop, Lake Kegonsa state park where we met up with some friends who also have two little boys. Such a beautiful park - only downfall was no electric and it was gettin' hot! So we hitched up to find a new place to drop anchor, but stopped at Cave of the Mounds (Thanks, Dwightdi). We love caves - we spelunk every chance we get. The friends we met up with had never toured a cave so you can imagine how exciting it was for them. Next a little privately owned campground right outside of Devil's Lake State park (thanks to the help of the Chamber of Commerce) and spent hours at the state park beach . We poked around downtown Baraboo where there just happened to be a live band playing for free in the park, but all were too tired and hungry and still in our swimmin' togs from our morning at the beach so we went "home" to make pie iron sandwiches on the fire back at camp, played at the park, and spent a very relaxing cool evening by the fire.

As if all of this wasn't enough excitement, Circus World Museum! (Thanks John). I have to say, this was money very well spent. It was an amazingly slow day there, and the kids (and my husband) were picked to participate in the children's circus - major highlight for us parents - as we watched our two and six year old perform as lions and elephants in the ring. The Chinese acrobats alone were worth the admission price! Great day - great place - will go back again. Everyone, young and old, enjoyed it.

And the highlight of my vacation was our visit to Dr. Evermore's Sculpture Garden (thanks Markdoane). We never, in a million years, would have come across that place. It was amazing. We even got to meet Dr. Evermore. We liked the surplus store, as well. Lots of great junk!

We spent the last two nights at a campground that had a lake, a small river to ride rafts in and entertainment: a mock wedding with a reception with a band so our kids got to shake their booties. We flew kites and skipped stones in the water. There was so much activity that we never worked on the design your own souvernir vacation t-shirts I brought along (Pinkflamingos, your ideas lead me to this one, white shirts + t-shirt markers = Souvernir).

We had beautiful weather and a wonderful time. Good friends joining us for a large portion of the trip made it even better. Now, tan and tired, it's good to be home. The friends who met up with us rented an RV - this was the first time they ever camped. They loved the entire experience - now are in the market for a motorhome so they can go with us all of the time. Thanks again to all for your help - we hope to get back soon to see the things we missed.
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Old 07-04-2006, 11:04 PM   #13
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So Glad you are home safe and it sounds like you had an ideal vacation. Now ask the kids what was the most fun and make the tshirts about that time.

Make a photo album and label /date pictures while fresh on your mind. It is amazing how many pictures we get and don't remember when we took them.

Kay
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Old 07-05-2006, 12:29 AM   #14
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Wow, what a great description of a dream vacation. You must have had fun watching the pooped out kids sleeping at night. My favorite thing to look at :-)
I hope to have similar experiences myself, soon!!
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