Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Favorite Summer Vacations

I think my topic was supposed to be libraries, but with Labor Day and the end of summer on my mind, I decided to blog about vacations instead.

The longer I study history, the more blessed I feel to be living during this age. After electricity, air conditioning, and the telephone, I’d rank summer vacations at the top of those blessings.

There’s nothing new about taking a trip for fun and relaxation—for the wealthy. Anyone who reads Regencies knows the nobility frequently traveled to Bath and other resorts. In the past anyone with a lot of money could travel to exotic places, and the visits ran into weeks or months. But vacations for the common man didn’t happen until the last half of the twentieth century.

Before the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, most people lived on the farm and wouldn’t think of leaving their crops during the summer. Then as factories grew, demanding laborers who worked regular hours for regular wages, attitudes changed. But it’s unlikely factory owners would have given their workers time off without the unions demanding it. Unions did happen though, and they made demands.

Two other things had to happen before the family vacation became commonplace. Cars became economical and an interstate highway system was completed. With the booming economy of the 1950s and time off, people packed the kids in the car and hit the road. The summer vacation as we know it began.

Here are my four top picks for a family vacation from great to greatest. These are the vacation destinations of choice for the typical American family, which makes me average, I guess.

4. State and National Parks. These were the vacations of my childhood. If you like camping, this is the way to go. I personally don’t like camping, so my visits to parks involve renting a high-priced cottage with all the modern amenities. I love state and national parks though, because they can’t be beat for scenery and natural beauty.

3. Mountains. – Most people prefer to visit the mountains during the fall, but I like to walk a cool mountain trail during the summer. Since I’m the tourist type, Pigeon Forge in Tennessee is my favorite. The comedy, country, and blue-grass music shows are the best.
2. Theme Parks. I was there at the opening of Disney World in 1971 and every other year for the next thirty-six years. It’s a Small World is still my favorite ride, but the Teacups is a close second. Thank you, Mr. Disney for all those wonderful vacations, though I’d probably be a millionaire if I hadn’t spent all that money.
Disney World had at least 18,588,000 visitors in 2013, and I think all of them were standing in line for the Space Mountain ride the last time I was there. Here’s another tidbit about Disney World. It’s the largest single site employer in the United States, employing over 66,000 workers called cast members. I wonder where they go for vacation.

1. Beaches. This is my absolute favorite vacation because I have nothing to do for the whole week. Every day in my surf chair, listening to beach music and reading a good book. I don’t even worry that the tide will reach my chair because it’s already in the water.

Since I live in the Southeast, the Florida gulf and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina are my favorite beach vacations.

Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite summer vacation destination? Where did you go this year?


  1. Elaine, we take a summer trip to our hometown in Michigan every year. It's nice to visit family and friends. Although, we now live in very close proximity to Disney, we rarely go, and when we do its usually with our church group. I like calm, soothing vacations vs. hectic, action filled ones. Great post, thank you!

  2. Thanks, Michele. I think the key is setting time aside to spend with family, and I'm with you. I like smoothing vacations.

  3. Elaine, I have to say that Tennessee is one of my favorite states and Pigeon Forge is right there at the top! We have had some fabulous summer vacations but this summer was packed with too much to get away. Hopefully, this fall will hold a wonderful trip for us. Thank you for a great post!

    mauback 55 at gmail dot com

    1. Hi Melanie

      I love Pigeon Forge, so much to see and do. Hope you get off to an enjoyable, and cooler, fall vacation.

  4. Does taking over 20 kids from church camping count as a vacation? I think that's the closest thing to a vacation I've had this year and my allergies threw me for a loop there.

    I think my favorite kind of vacations are when I can explore the outdoors and history (if they're both together even better. :) ). A horseback tour doesn't hurt either. =D

    Great post, Elaine.


    1. No, Crystal, chaperoning kids at church camp is a blessing but not a vacation. Exploring historical sites is a favorite of mine, especially old houses, and you know, sometimes you find them right in your backyard.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    2. The beach is and aways will be my first pick for vacation!! This year was special, joining the kids and I was my Mom and my life long best friend along with her youngest daughter!! We all had the best time from the beach to the mini golf course to dodging rain clouds!! I wouldn't trade it for anything in this world!!!!

  5. So glad you stopped by, Dana. All vacations make memories, and it looks like you have some good ones.