Travel and products reviews from a Wisconsin dad and sons.
PR and Social Media Manager at KidStuff Public Relations. Dad blogger at OurFamilyReviews.com ~ marketing consultant, WordPress.com collaborator and PR pro ~ recovering hop grower and contributor to numerous local guides ~ dad, living in southwest Wisconsin. I love having fun with my family, writing, traveling, shopping, consulting and sharing my honest opinions. Featured on Discover Wisconsin in 2013. I am PR friendly, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
I found a gem! I’m camping out of my truck on the shore of the Mississippi River! This $15 campsite is at Miller Riverview Park, 1851 Admiral Sheehy Dr, Dubuque, IA 52001, USA, located next to W Casino. This municipal park includes many RV campsites and a small loop of primitive campsites. Make a reservation here.
My site is #55 and is located on the water. I’m up early and every few minutes I hear a fish jump. The train tracks across the river are active, but not noisy, with a train passing by every hour or two. It’s amazing that one train engine can pull so many train cars which seem to go on and on! Downriver, about a half mile is the Hwy-151 bridge which is also not load but busy with semi trucks and vehicles.
I’m here in mid-May (2021) so the daytime temperatures are 50-60’s F and there are no bugs and some sprinkles and cool breeze. I’ve made special provisions of lots of campfire wood, food, camp tools, and just the basics, as I’m camping alone. This overnight trip was intended to discover if this campground and campsite are worthy of returning with my family.
Besides the campsite needing to be picked up from the last litterbug guests, the cell signal here is super slow which is okay because I’m camping, not working. I have my truck set up for sleeping in and I built a tarp house off the back of it, it’s pretty big about 20‘ x 20‘ with the fire pit just outside the tarp. My shelter has sloped sides to stop the wind which I’ve anchored using two picnic tables. I’ve placed my firewood under the tables. The fire ring is not small and includes a nice fold-over bbq grill grate which needs cleaning. It’s 4am now and the river has dense fog except by the highway bridge.
For this one-night camping trip, I decided to sleep out of the back of my truck using a queen-size sleeping bag and air mattress. That worked well!
Here’s my truck camping packing list for this weekend!
Van or Truck camping must-haves summer travel packing list
My view is beautiful, on the Mississippi with lots of room and plenty of shade. The riverbanks is rocks in the grass and sand and water. There is no swimming here but you could launch a canoe and I see lots of campers fishing! There are lots of rocks and shells and plenty of space to hike off my campsite. There is lots of boats, bald eagles, swans, geese with babies, swallows, cranes, pelicans and many songbirds. The campsites are open but very spaced out and Site 55 is huge so it’s still private. 5 tents would easily fit in this campsite with vistas, however. This campground faces East and is open to the sunlight so I would imagine it may get very hot here in high summer.
Campsite Pro Tip!
Don’t situate your campsite too close to the fire ring. This way, when the wind shifts, the campfire smoke doesn’t ruin your camp!
I love that this campground is 45 minutes from Mineral Point, Wisconsin and in town in Dubuque yet I’m still in the woods— it’s amazing and I love the Spot!
It’s fair to say that 2020 was one of the most challenging years to travel and I’m so glad this new year may bring more hope and positive experiences. With business closures and limits on domestic travel, it’s been difficult to find accommodations and plan family vacations. We haven’t been able to interact with family, friends, and making plans to explore new places or attending live events has been sketchy. The global pandemic has affected travel in many ways including reduced commercial flights; closure of our favorite businesses, parks, public lands, and everyone is staying home.
I’m estimating that by July, 2021, things will be back to normal.
To give you something to look forward to, here’s my list of top 10 travel destinations in the USA, that are safe to visit now in 2021. I’ve left off two favorites, my hometown of Mineral Point in Wisconsin and Sanibel Island in Florida. This top 10 travel destinations list is presented geographically from East to West in the USA.
When you think Fort Myers & Sanibel, you probably think beach, beach and beach. Of course, there’s so much more to life in the Gulf Coast. These are a few of the most charming local must-sees and gotta-do’s —by Travelocity
When I was growing up, my mom’s parents moved from Lombard, Illinois to Englewood, Florida and we would spend our Christmas breaks there every winter. I have fond memories of going from cold Chicagoland to warm Florida and spending time riding my grandma’s adult-sized tricycle and fishing with Grandpa Smith for crab.
Take a trip back in time, to a slower-paced era when railroad travel was a way of life. Relive the romance of the rails when vintage trains provided an escape from the everyday routine. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum provides an interactive, historical experience that will add an extra dimension to your visit to Chattanooga’s popular attractions. Here you will find the only regularly scheduled, full-sized train ride in Tennessee. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is so much more than entertainment… it is your chance to experience the sights and sounds of yesteryear! Please feel free to spend time visiting our Grand Junction depot before purchasing your ticket. There you will find our ticket office, cafe, gift shop, and historical displays to enjoy. We do not charge an admission fee except on some of our special event weekends.
Cadillac’s Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac are connected by a navigable canal, creating 3,700 acres of Northern Michigan vacation fun. These two watery attractions invite fishers, boaters and beachgoers during the summer. And in winter, the lakes draw ice fishermen and snowmobilers. –by MyNorth.com
Airbnb has some amazing inexpensive daily, weekly and longer rentals on Lake Mitchell and there’s so many fun things to do for family fun! Check out our 2019 lake house family vacation post for more info. about Lake Mitchell.
One of my favorite family activities in Chicagoland is to eat pizza and take the train from the Western suburbs to downtown Chicago, then hop the Water Taxi. The Chicago River Water Taxi may be slightly hard to find, two blocks off the Ogilvie train station in downtown Chicago but, it’s super-affordable and can accommodate a large family or group. Ride the Chicago River Water Taxi from Chinatown in the South Loop to Goose Island and back to your original destination. The best pizza in Chicagoland can be found at Barone’s in Glen Ellyn, IL and any one of the many Aurelio’s Pizza locations.
If swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing, hiking and sun bathing are your idea of an ideal family vacation activity, Sylvan Lake at Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota is a must-visit. This hidden vacationland gem is a relatively quick drive from most Midwestern hometowns. Only a thirteen hour drive from southwest Wisconsin, I love the Black Hills in South Dakota and theres so much to do.
A short drive from Boulder, CO is a little hippie town called Nederland. You can find local shops, a few brewpubs and good food to enjoy with your family. Stop by the Knotted Root Brewing Company or find other recreation on the Town’s directory.
Park Rangers are available to assist park visitors at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, and the Wilderness Office. Rocky Mountain Conservancy Nature Stores are open at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, the Fall River Visitor Center, and Kawuneeche Visitor Center. The Kawuneeche Visitor Center is open Tuesday-Sunday 9 am to 4:30 pm. Due to COVID 19, the number of visitors will be limited inside the buildings. by National Park Service
With park entrances at Estes Park and Grand Lake, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is a one-of-a-kind family travel destination which has wildlife, sightseeing, camping, hiking, sledding and so much more. Don’t miss Trail Ridge Road, which is often closed due to dangerous weather conditions and allows safe drivers the change to see portions of the park which are the most beautiful. Also be sure to check out the Alluvial Fan inside the park. Don’t forget your Rocky Mountain National Park passport sticker!
In Ruidoso, New Mexico, Pillow’s Funtrackers is the place for family-fun! I also recommend a zipline tour at Ski Apache, swimming and hiking at Grindstone Lake, have steak dinner and a beer at the Rio Grande Grill and Tap Room or stop in for a cup of joe on the back porch of the Sacred Grounds Coffee overlooking the Rio creek.
No matter how much you read about the Grand Canyon or how many photographs you’ve seen, nothing really prepares you for the sight of it. One of the world’s seven natural wonders, it’s so startlingly familiar and iconic you can’t take your eyes off it. The canyon’s immensity, the sheer intensity of light and shadow at sunrise or sunset, even its very age, scream for superlatives. – by LonelyPlanet.com
The Grand Canyon is massive, over a mile deep and 18 miles wide! Theres numerous locations to view the Grand Canyon. Make sure to purchase a digital park pass before heading out. Visit the National Park Service website to find more info on planning your visit to the Grand Canyon National Park.
Each and every one of these locations features beautiful scenery, history, hiking, and fun as well. If you are the kind of person who likes to tick beautiful vacation destinations off your bucket list, these 10 USA locations are a sure-fire way to start an adventure in 2021.
Gemz is one of my favorite card games and is one of six family card games made by TREND Enterprises. In Gemz, two or more players use color coordination to win. I’m excited to share that for this travel post, I’m hosting a giveaway for one winner to received the Gemz and On Track family card games from TREND Enterprises. ENTER NOW! See all six family card games by TREND Enterprises.
Giveaway entries must be complete by February 28, 2021. Entrants must be 13 years or older and reside in the lower USA States, excluding HI and AK. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, YouTube or Linked In.
Gemz Family Card Game
Brand new bling-building family FUN! Join the fun with Gemz! This NEW Three Corner™ Card Game is simple, FUN, and will be an instant family favorite! It’s a game kids can play on their own, yet has plenty of strategy to satisfy everyone. Gemz! plays in small spaces, but brings BIG fun to parties, gatherings, game night, and more. Buy Gemz card game.
On Track™ Three Corner™ Card Game
Use strategy and planning to stay on track. Make the right connections to build a railroad from engine to terminal to WIN! Each player builds across a different geographic region: plains, deserts, coastlines, and mountains.