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FAMILY TRAVEL: Midwestern Road Trip with Rollercoasters

By Jackie Burrell
Sunday, March 9th, 2008 at 6:00 am in Family Travel.

The Van Bonn boys at the Indy Car Museum
Contemplating a Midwestern road trip? Got some Indy 500 fans on board? Here’s the scoop on where to go and what to see, from this week’s travel experts, the Van Bonn family.

THE TREK IN A SEC: This Dublin family did a two-week Midwestern road trip that looped from Illinois down to Kentucky and back, and combined Indy race cars, monster rollercoasters, good old-fashioned Americana and a family reunion.

THE TRAVELERS: Joe Van Bonn, a foreman iron worker on the Golden Gate Bridge, his wife Eileen and their sons, Danny, age 9, and Patrick, 6.

BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY HOTEL: This classic road trip took the Van Bonns through Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and down to Kentucky. Along the way, they camped, bunked with family and friends, and stayed in a great hotel just outside Cedar Point, the self-proclaimed “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.” Breakers Express had “a great pool and it was just outside the park,” says Joe. “It was the least expensive but the newest of their resort hotels. By staying at the resort hotel, you got early admission into the park.” And therefore, no-wait rides on Maverick, Raptor, Millenium Force and other rides whose lines overflow later in the day.

The Van Bonns at the Choo Choo in Illinois MEMORABLE MEALS: The Van Bonns got a big kick out of the Choo Choo Restaurant in Des Planes, Illinois. It’s a 1951 diner, says Joe, with burgers and basic sandwiches. “They send your food out on a little train,” he says. “The train car pulls these baskets, so if you sit at the bar, the train comes around and stops in front of you. The kids loved that.”

The Van Bonn boys at the Indy Car Museum COOLEST SIGHTSEEING: The Indy Car Museum and track tour in Indianapolis were perfect for race car fans, says Joe, and Lake Michigan — particularly the beach at Winnetka, Illinois, where the Van Bonn family watched Fourth of July fireworks — was “a great place to take the kids.” The family also caught a White Sox game in Chicago and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Indianapolis Zoo.

And then there was Cedar Point Amusement Park, the self-styled “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” in Sandusky, Ohio. “I remember going there when I was the same size as my boys,” says Joe. “I remember the big thrill rides then. One ride was the Corkscrew, which was new when I was young. It was one of the first to do the corkscrew and the loop-de-loop. They have these monster roller coasters now. All the rides I went on (as a boy) are just dwarfed. It’s a roller coaster riders’ haven.”

The Van Bonn family pauses for snacks TRAVEL TIPS:
1. Carry plenty of snacks and drinks in the car for the kids.
2. Venture off the beaten path. The Van Bonns participated in the Times’ 2007 road trip scavenger hunt during their trek, so they combined regular sightseeing with a search for old fashioned rootbeer floats, covered bridges and the strangest drive-through they could find — a drive-through funeral home. Do a little research before you go, says Joe, and see things you’ve never seen before – a water tower shaped like the Leaning Tower of Pisa (yes, really), or an unusual ice cream stand. *******************************************************
Has your family been somewhere wonderful? Share your photos, favorite hotels and outings, and travel tips by e-mailing us. Or click “comments” and share your travel tips right here.
Looking for more family travel tips? Check out these blog posts too:
Kauai with a Toddler
An African safari with the Family
Rome with the Bambino
Colonial Williamsburg with the Kids
Cancun Family Adventures
London with Teens
New York City and DC with a Theater-Going Family
New York City with a Baseball-Loving Family
California Beach Towns
Paris avec le bebe
Vancouver with the Kids
Sweden & Norway with Teens and
The Cote d’Azur with Teens.

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One Response to “FAMILY TRAVEL: Midwestern Road Trip with Rollercoasters”

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