Saturday, July 14, 2012
Summer Travel with Kids Day 1: Michigan
The kids nibbled on breakfast in the car while we made our way to our first planned stop at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan. If you have plans to be in the area with your kids, you'll want to put this stop on your list. We planned our arrival to get there right as they opened on Friday (9am) and it worked out perfectly. We practically had the place to ourselves as we explored.
The Air Zoo is home to over 50 aircrafts from World War II bombers to the modern SR-71B Blackbird. All 7 of us were really dazzled by the ability to get up close to all the various planes. What's not to love about machines that help people fly? There were even some fun hands on exhibits for the little kids to climb inside and enjoy. I think we spent about 2 hours taking in all the exhibits, but we could have easily stayed for more.
We spent the middle part of the day exploring college campuses and driving, but did stop to stretch our legs and have lunch at The Corner Bar in Rockford, Michigan. The Corner Bar is famous for their delicious hot dogs and their hot dog hall of fame of over 5000 names displayed on the establishment's walls. To become a member of their hall of fame one must eat 12 hot dogs with at least their special chili sauce in one four-hour sitting. Additionally if you eat 20 chili dogs in the four-hour time period, you won't have to pay for them. I think the current amateur record stands at something like 43. My teenage sons can be big eaters, but two of those hot dogs was plenty. My sons did declare them to be among the best hot dogs they'd ever had. The Corner Bar offers other eats beyond the hotdog. I really enjoyed the turkey and cheese sandwich on a pretzel bun and my daughter suggests their chicken tenders.
Before popping back in the car, we walked around the quaint downtown area in Rockford and observed lots of ducks and swans swimming along the waterway. They are several cute shops and more than one stop for those with a sweet tooth.
Our destination for the evening was Frankenmuth, Michigan. The moment you arrive in town, you'll know exactly why the town of Frankenmuth is nicknamed Michigan's Little Bavaria. The whole area is a German eclectic mix. I really wish we'd have had a long weekend to explore it in more detail. I knew little about the town before arriving that evening and our early morning departure left me wanting to go back. I'm putting on my list of towns I need to revisit.
Our reason for stopping in Frankenmuth was to stay at Zehnder's Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark. Zehnder's is Mid Michigan's largest indoor waterpark, with 30,000 square feet of indoor aquatic family fun including two 4-story waterslides. I figured a waterpark hotel would be the perfect treat for all of us after our long day in the car and I was right. We hit the pool immediately upon our arrival taking full advantage of the large slides, lazy river, and other water fun. The waterpark has what I perceive to be an elven garden type theme that nicely melds with the town's Bavarian style. We really enjoyed our time there and would definitely go back. After all the water play, we had a very late dinner at a local pizza joint ( T-dubs) and then it was off to bed for most of us in one of Zehnder's loft suites.
Disclosure: Please note, I was provided with a room upgrade from Zehnder's. All opinions expressed are my own.