Summer Road Trips You Can Enjoy with the Kids

School is out, the thermometer is creeping up into triple digits, and the kids are getting cabin fever. If the pool lifeguards are getting tired of your kids already and your kids are getting bored with the local children’s museum, ice cream shop, and playground, why not get out of town for a while? Taking a road trip with the kids lets you bask in the pleasure of air conditioning or the breeze of open car windows during the hottest summer days, and it gives the kids a new experience at every stop.

East Coast Boardwalk Excursions

The beaches on the east coast are wide, family-friendly, and fun. Since the kids might get antsy after a few hours in the sun, the boardwalks give the whole family something to do. Some of the boardwalks have arcades, shops, and restaurants along them, while others just provide an avenue for pure family fun.

Virginia Beach

The Virginia Beach boardwalk isn’t made of boards. But it gives you a place to walk—or to rent beach surreys, ride bikes, or simply take a stroll. The street next to the beach gives families plenty to do once the sun goes down. In addition to restaurants and bars, there are street performers and live bands, rides and amusements. Nearby are Seashore State Park, Ocean Breeze Water Park, and the Marine Science Museum. When you’ve had enough of the beach, take the kids to Colonial Williamsburg for a historic experience.

Ocean City

Ocean City, New Jersey, has what Virginia Beach lacks: miles of wood-planked boardwalk along the shore. It’s like a constant carnival on the boardwalk. In between body surfing and building sand castles, kids can play miniature golf, eat cotton candy, or test their skills at an arcade. You don’t have to worry about packing all your gear, either. You can rent everything from beach chairs to boogie boards right on the boardwalk.

Travel Across the USA’s Northern Border

If you really want to get away from the heat, try a road trip across the scenic Minnesota State Highway 61. You can stop and stretch your legs on a wilderness hike and visit one of the Great Lakes. There are so many places to stop that you won’t spend too much time in the car and you’ll keep the kids entertained.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. If that doesn’t impress the kids, maybe the fishing, ship watching, or kayaking will. Start your trip in Duluth, Minnesota, where you can ride the North Shore Scenic Railroad. In Two Harbors, you can watch large ocean-going vessels navigate their way in and out of the bay. You can tour the oldest operating tugboat on the Great Lakes and bike along the waterfront Sonju trail.

State Park Hiking

After that, your trip takes you through the wilderness. You’ll pass eight state parks in just over 100 miles. Gooseberry Falls State Park is a beautiful place to hike to five different waterfalls. Picnic next to the river and show the kids the splendor of nature. You can even camp out under the stars for a truly unforgettable experience.

Grand Marais

The harbor village of Grand Marais is a quaint stop on the lake. Take a walk through a small forest to the lighthouse at Artist’s Point. Other short hikes take you past waterfalls and to a magnetic rock. Kids can look for agates at Paradise Beach or cool off with an ice cream cone at Gunflint’s Mercantile.

Whether you’re looking to beat the heat or just trying to find a new activity to keep the kids busy this summer, a road trip is always exciting. Pack up the car, grab some tunes, and think up some road trip games. When they’re older, the kids will thank you for not subjecting them to another year of summer camp and for taking them on such an entertaining journey.

About the Author

Gabriela Patterson is the mother of four and a content contributor for online car insurance companies, which offer quotes from popular carriers such as Geico car insurance.

*Image: akeeris / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

This delicious and amazing dessert can be made right on your own grill this summer! Courtesy of GrillinFools.com, the recipe can also be made with pears instead of apples, and the guys recommmend leaving off the Butter Pecan Topping if you go with pears.

Grilled Apple Tart

Ingredients

4 Apples, cored and sliced thinly (Granny Smith is recommended)
1/2 Cup dates (pits removed and quartered)
3/4 Cup Marsala wine
3 TBSP Brown sugar
1/2 Cup Mascarpone cheese
2 Tsp Sugar
One prepared pie crust
1 Egg

Butter Pecan Topping Ingredients

2 TBSP Butter
1 TBS Brown sugar
1/4 Cup Chopped pecans

***You will also need a baking stone for this recipe.

Preparation

Place the dates and 1/2 cup of the Marsala wine and the brown sugar into a sauce pan and simmer until dates are tender and the wine has reduced and thickened (approx 20 minutes). Add apples and remaining 1/4 cup wine to the date mixture and cook another 5 minutes until apples start to become slightly tender. Remove from heat.

Combine Mascarpone cheese and white sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the pie crust on the baking stone. Spread apple mixture over crust leaving approximately 1″ to 1.5″ border. Drop cheese mixture by the teaspoon over the apples.

Melt the butter and combine with brown sugar and pecans. Scatter over the top of the tart.

Fold the crust up and partially over the apples, crimping the crust as you go.

Beat the egg with a fork and brush over the crust.

Place baking stone directly on medium high grill (approx 350 degrees) and close lid. Cook approximately 45 minutes until crust is brown and apples are bubbly (if unsure of the grill tempurature, begin checking for doneness after 30 minutes).

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy!

*Recipe and image courtesy of GrillinFools.com.*

Frugal Outdoor Summer Activities for Families

The summer heat is upon us and with it, the familiar refrain “I’m bored!” from the kids. A whole day of nothing to do can quickly turn into an expensive day as you try to entertain the kids with activities, meals out and trips. However, there are numerous activities which are inexpensive or even free.

Library Programs for Kids

Even if you’re kids aren’t big readers yet, the library is awonderful resource for things to do during the summers. You probably already know about story time for the little ones, but libraries often offer numerous programs for older kids, teens and adults during the summer.

Everything from free magic shows to craft classes goes on the schedule at many local libraries. Some libraries even offer clubs and day trips for seniors. Just stop by the librarians’desk for a schedule and suggestions of offerings for different age groups.

Volunteer as a Family

Volunteering is an excellent activity for families to dotogether. The nice thing about volunteering is that there are so many different opportunities out there. Even if they don’t normally take children asvolunteers, they will normally work something out if the parents will be present.

Families can spend the day with animals at shelter, feeding or playing with kids at a shelter or halfway house or even building houses for amazing organizations like Habitat for Humanity. To volunteer as a family unit, callthe main volunteer coordinator for the organization and ask about opportunities.

Free Public Parks

The nice things about public parks are that they are freeand come with built in playmates. Load up the car with the whole family, a homemade lunch and a variety of outdoor toys like bubbles, baseballs and basketballs, Frisbees and the family dog. An entire day can be lazed away lying on the grass with the adults while the kids are kept occupied with their new friends on the playground.

Family activities don’t have to cost a lot; in fact, they really don’t have to cost anything at all. Just the act of spending time, all together, makes those summer days special. If you’re stuck for ideas, think back to what you did as a kid, then pull the kids away from the video games and drag them outside with you!

About the Author

Rhiana Jones is a freelance writer and blogger. Learn more about her on her frugal living blog, A Frugal Life.

*Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Just 1 jar of Mrs. Renfro’s Peach Salsa is all you need to create tender, delicious chicken on the grill this summer!

Grilled Peach Salsa Chicken

Ingredients

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 jar Mrs. Renfro’s PEACH SALSA

Preparation

Place 4 boneless chicken breasts in container and pour 1 jar of Mrs. Renfro’s Peach Salsa evenly over it. Let marinate overnight in refrigerator. Grill over medium heat, turning occasionally until done.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Mrs. Renfro’s.*

Organic summer snacking at its’ sweetest this 4th of July! For those seeking healthier alternatives to traditional pies, ice cream, and other goodies this holiday, pair gluten-free, vegetarian Organicville Ice Cream with Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie from Wholly Wholesome! These two desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth after all of the corn on the cob and other grilled foods you may be enjoying over the holiday weekend.

Organicville’s new line of certified organic, creamy ice creams is made with skim milk and cream from small organic dairy farms. Available in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and mint, all four varieties are gluten- free, egg-free, vegetarian and kosher. “Mom” can’t believe how rich and full of flavor the vanilla ice cream tastes – hard to believe it is made from skim milk!

Organicville’s new organic ice cream products are available in pint size (473mL) containers at major supermarket chains nationwide, or online at www.OrganicvilleFoods.com.

Vegans’ rejoice! This Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie from Wholly Wholesome features all of the spices and smooth pumpkin flavor you want in a pumpkin pie, but is made without eggs & dairy. Instead, tofu puree is blended with for the same consistency. For those who shun the use of tofu – give this pie a chance! You won’t even notice that the eggs and milk are missing!

To learn more about Wholly Wholesome’s line of delectable, healthy desserts & breads, or to locate a store near you, visit whollywholesome.com.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this review.*

Games and Activities to Throw a Great 4th of July Party

Independence Day is a great time to hang out with friends and family, grill some food, and have tons of fun. Throwing a 4th of July party can be a great way to combine all of these things, and in addition to great food, a successful party also needs great party games for everyone to play. Here are a few ideas for Independence Day themed fun for all ages.

1. Pin the Hat on Uncle Sam

If you know how to play “pin the tail on the donkey,” you’ll know what type of game this is. Take some large pieces of construction paper, and fashion yourself a hatless version of the famous bearded icon of America, Uncle Sam. Then create a red, white and blue hat separately that can then be pinned on the old man. Tape Uncle Sam to a wall, and blindfold each player one at a time. Send them over to pin (or tape if you don’t want to risk ruining your wall) the hat on Uncle Sam as best they can without looking. For added fun, spin the contestant after blindfolding him or her. Just be sure to point them in the right direction afterward.

2. Photo Recreations of History

From the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to the Boston Tea Party, there are many historic moments in America’s history. Be creative and have your guests pose as if they were taking part in such historic events. You can look up artists’ depictions of said events, or recreate them from your imagination. Use props, costumes, or anything you can to complete the look. If that’s too much, just have each friend do their best impression of Ben Franklin or George Washington by creatively using whatever props are available. Take plenty of pictures that you can later send to your friends!

3. Roast Marshmallows: American Style

Roasting marshmallows on a grill or fire pit is a great way to have fun, socialize, and have a tasty treat all at the same time. Instead of roasting just plain old marshmallows, you’ll want to use food coloring to dye some of the marshmallows red and blue. Place one of each color on a stick or other roasting skewer, and you’re ready for toasting American’s independence with a toasty snack. You can get more creative by placing red and blue marshmallows on a piece of white chocolate. Add a graham cracker, and you have a unique twist on an old favorite.

4. Fireworks

While most states have restrictions on what kind of fireworks you can set off, a Fourth of July party just doesn’t seem complete without at least some kind of fireworks. Purchase sparklers, poppers, and whatever else you can legally get and take turns firing them off. Always use good judgment when handling fireworks around children, and follow all safety precautions to insure you and your guests do not get injured. If your area prohibits all fireworks, find out when your city sets off their public fireworks and huddle up and watch them together.

Hosting a great party can be easy with great food, fun games, and memorable stories. Don’t just follow these tips, though. Get creative and make your party truly unique. Also remember that what really makes a great party are the people you invite.

About the Author

Nicole Rodgers has been blogging for three years; she is constantly finding new ways to entertain her kids and her most recent success was to make funny t-shirts together. After running around with the kids all day, she also likes to spend a little time and money on herself by going out and buying designer eyeglasses.

*Image: nixxphotography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Fast and easy, with only 2 ingredients, these grilled shrimp are marinated in Mrs. Renfro’s Mango Habanero Salsa for a sweet and spicy flavor!

Grilled Shrimp With Mango Habanero

Ingredients

2-3 lbs. Shrimp
1 jar (16 oz.) Mrs. Renfro’s MANGO HABANERO SALSA

Preparation

Cover shrimp with half jar of salsa in shallow dish, marinating for 4 hours in refrigerator. Baste over shrimp while grilling, reserve a little for plate.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Mrs. Renfro’s.*

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*Image provided by ProBar.*

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