Camping With The Family The Whole Family

Trip Planning

Camping With The Family - The Whole Family

I am incredibly lucky to be close to my siblings, as well as my parents. It’s a blessing that not everyone has, and I love the time we can all spend together.

As a family we try to plan one big getaway each year that everyone can attend. And, to keep it affordable, we go camping.

This year our outing was to the KOA in Gretna, Nebraska, just west of Omaha. I almost feel like the poster child for KOA here on The Scenic Route… What can I say, these campgrounds just work for us – especially when traveling with family members who don’t camp. We know that the camping cabins, pool, and other activities will help our non-RVing relatives enjoy the getaway and not feel like they are ‘roughing it.’ Another great bonus of camping is that our dogs are welcome to join us, making this truly a vacation for the entire family.

At the Campground

We were thrilled with our premium campsite. Located on the end of the row, it was just opposite our family cabins, next to the dog park, adjacent to the mini golf and in view of the pool. Our large patio had two levels, one with a picnic table, the other with a patio table and chairs next to the fire pit. It was the perfect place for adults to gather while the kids golfed or biked around the campground.

While we ventured out to Omaha during the day, our evenings were spent at the campsite. My brother’s RV is perfect as a movie screen. With our mini projector, hooked to a laptop, we watched The Princess Bride, Secondhand Lions, and Robots while popping popcorn, toasting marshmallows, and making smacos over the fire.

Explorations in Omaha

Omaha is a fabulous city for explorations with all ages. Most of the family visited the Henry Doorly Zoo, one of the best in the country. The animal enclosures here are large, and many offer both indoor and outdoor viewing- which is welcome on hot summer days! At over 800 acres you may not see everything, so be sure to get a zoo map when you arrive so you see your favorite animals.

Another family favorite was Lauritzen Gardens. Beautifully designed gardens – 20 in all – offer different themes from the Walled Victorian Garden and the Japanese Garden to the Children’s Garden where sensory areas to touch, smell, and taste welcome kids to do more than just look. Our favorite by far was the Model Railroad Garden. A dozen model trains chug along miles of track, across bridges made of twigs and depots of log and thatch. Everything that can be is constructed of natural materials, turning the model train villages into faerie lands.

Opposite Lauritzen Gardens is Kenefick Park and its locomotives – two of the largest in the world. You’ll definitely feel dwarfed as you make the climb to see these!

Our train theme continued at the Durham Museum, which was once Omaha Union Station. The ‘Golden Age’ of train travel is on display here from the statues depicting travelers, each with a story that allows you to eavesdrop on their lives, to the restored train cars you can board. Rotating exhibits explore the worlds of science, history, and technology in fun and interactive displays.

We chose one evening to dine out, and The Old Market was our destination. The entertainment and shopping district has dozens of fabulous restaurants, our favorite being The Twisted Fork, American food with a Cowboy Twist. Do not miss the Chicken Fried Bacon. Shops in this historic area offer everything from art and jewelry by local artists to fine leathers and vintage records. It’s truly an eclectic mix. Before you go, be sure to visit Hollywood Candy; it’s not your ordinary candy shop! Aisles of old-time candies give way to new favorites. A 50s-era soda shop is tucked in a corner near a pink Cadillac. And a small theater plays classic movies (Back to the Future was playing when we visited. Had we not been full from dinner I’m sure we would have grabbed some popcorn and settled in for the show!)

Tips for Planning a Multigenerational Camping Vacation

  • Pick a destination everyone can agree on – you want to be sure there are activities for all ages available. Utilize the local Visitors Bureau website for information.
  • Check the non-RVer lodging options. What do they offer? How far away is the bathhouse? Do you need to supply your own bedding or is it provided?
  • Have one person make first contact to ‘hold’ the reservations, and others call quickly after to confirm their own portions.
  • Be sure to request that the RVs and cabins be located near each other – family gatherings are no fun when you have to cross an entire campground to spend time together!
  • Plan your meals. Will you all bring food and just eat together, or will everyone be assigned specific foods to bring?
  • Relax and enjoy your family! Camping is perfect for quiet evenings by a fire, filled with memories – both funny and embarrassing – while the kids play nearby.
  • Make Smacos – more than a Smore

This is my family’s second year taking a large family vacation.

Would your family consider a multigenerational camping vacation?

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Jody Halsted

Jody Halsted