Best Middle Grade Books to Inspire Wanderlust

Best Middle Grade Books to Inspire Wanderlust

Stories inspire travel like nothing else! Middle grade books and YA books to inspire wanderlust in kids and us all! A chapter book list for kids who travel.

My entire life, I’ve been proud to be a book nerd. I was the kid who read a book on the bus, was intent on winning the school book challenges, and sighed with contentment when I finished my work and was allowed to read during class. Stories of the lives of others, especially in exotic settings, give you a connection to a place.

Can a book connection inspire the love of travel?

For example, in high school, I remember reading E.M. Forster’s, A Room With a View. Lucy, Mr. Beebe, Mrs. Honeycut, George, and all the characters seemed to pull me to Florence, Italy. From that moment on, I became determined to have my own room with a view of the River Arno and my own adventures in Florence.

And do you know what? I did. And it was amazing.

Also, I loved finding the different places in Florence mentioned in the book.

Now you think. What books have inspired you to travel or think about travel? Here’s a list of middle grade books and YA books to inspire wanderlust in kids and young adults. Also, they’re great to read when the family travels around the world.

Just want the list of books?

Scroll to the end of the blog post for the full list of books. They are books either set in other countries or perhaps the author lived in that area of the world. I’ll be adding to the list as we discover more so send me your recommendations in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Stories inspire travel in us all! A list of middle grade books and YA books great to spark wanderlust in kids and teens. #middlegradebooks #wanderlustinkids #booklist

Photo credit: Houses of Parliament, London, The Wanderlust Crew

Books inspire travel to:

1. London and the English Countryside

The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

 

The War That Saved My Life and its sequel The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley are both fantastic books for middle readers. The books take place during World War II. They are about a little girl named Ada who struggles with a disability but is able to overcome the odds through the kindness of others and her own strength.

The books take place in London and the English countryside. It’s heartbreaking and educational to read about the events of WWII that took place in this area and especially to read about how they affected the children of the time. There are many WWII sites you can visit in London and in the countryside even today.

From the Wanderlust Crew

2. Greece

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

My son set his heart on visiting Greece after reading Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Twelve-year-old Percy’s normal life in New York is thrown into chaos when he is attacked by a maths teacher who turns out to be a terrifying Fury. Then he’s pursued by a Minotaur, and on top of it all, his mother disappears.

In the safety of Camp Half-Blood – home to the children of ancient Greek gods – Percy discovers he is a son of Poseidon. Along with his friends, Grover – a satyr, and Annabeth – a daughter of Athena, Percy begins a quest to recover Zeus’s stolen lightning bolts.

“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”

Although the book is set in the US, the theme is ancient Greek mythology. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and its sequels sparked my son’s interest in ancient Greek gods and the stories associated with them. This includes an interest in Greek architecture and landmarks.

When Percy first sees Camp Half-Blood – located on Long Island – he is astounded to see Greek architecture featuring white marble columns including an amphitheater and an arena. The Greek mountain, Mount Olympus was thought to be home of the gods. During his quest, Percy learns that Mount Olympus, the home of the gods, is now accessible from the 600th floor of the Empire State building!

The Percy Jackson series is the perfect middle grade book series to inspire wanderlust to Greece. #booklist #middlegradebooks

Places to visit from the book

My son was intrigued by a discussion between Annabeth and Percy as they stood below the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Annabeth reveals she plans to visit the Parthenon in Athens in Greece and is inspired to be an architect by her heritage. My son has the same goal as Annabeth to visit the Parthenon and also to see the amazing Temple of Poseidon outside Athens. The Percy Jackson books are a great inspiration to travel and explore ancient history!

From Reading Inspiration

3. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Diary of Anne Frank (The Diary of a Young Girl)

by Anne Frank

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.

This quote from Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl captures the true resilience of the human spirit. This harrowing true story is about Anne Frank; a 13-year-old girl who is forced into hiding with her family during the Nazi regime. Translated into 70 languages, The Diary of Anne Frank is a must-read for all young adults; it depicts the transition from childhood to maturity in an eloquently relatable way.

Amsterdam is the lively capital city of the Netherlands and is a very family-friendly place to visit. Explore the city by boat along the canals, try on traditional wooden clogs, and sample some delicious Dutch waffles, stroopwafels. All these bustling activities are directly contrasted against the small attic in the city center where Anne and her family were forced into hiding.

Visit Amsterdam, the Netherlands #booklist #middlegradebooks #bestchapterbooks

An afternoon spent paying tribute to the Franks, and all those who lost their lives in the Holocaust is not to be missed when visiting Amsterdam. To visit the secret annex teaches young adults about Nazi Germany and the horrors that unfolded during World War II. It is a humbling experience for people of all ages – and to paraphrase Anne – it reminds us that even when the going gets tough, there’s still so much beauty in the world.

Full ticket information & opening hours for the Anne Frank museum can be found here.

From Becular Writes Stuff

4. Concord, Massachusetts

Whispering Graves

by Brenda Felber

Whispering Graves is about a girl named Lillia who can see and talk to ghosts. She goes to Massachusetts with her brother Charlie and her great aunt, Nora. There, Lillia meets a girl named Jo, and they try to solve the mystery of the Peabody house by listening to the whispers from the graves at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

This is a great book to read while you explore Concord, Massachusetts. The characters visit the Concord Museum, which has one of the lanterns Paul Revere used to signal the revolutionists. Maybe you remember his famous line, “One if by land, two if by sea.” The Redcoats are coming!

Also, the characters visited an ice cream place for breakfast called Bedford Farms Ice Cream, where you can still visit today. For fans of the classic book Little Women, visit Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote the beautiful story. Of course, also be sure to explore Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where many famous authors are buried.

Speaking of authors, nearby is also the famous Walden Pond. First, sit by the water. Clear your head and think only of the necessities and how to be minimalistic living by the pond like Thoreau. Then pull out your copy of Walden, and read a few lines.

From a book-loving 10-year-old.

5. Egypt

The Elfin Pyramid

by Penny Fernandes

Do you think that the pyramids of Egypt were built by man? Baah! It was the magic of elves that brought about these wonders. You probably don’t know we exist – that’s exactly the way we want it. Times have changed and our magic has begun to ebb away. The only hope for Elfin survival lies in a forgotten region of modern Egypt. Sobek, Horus and I have no choice but to hurl through the desert, find a stolen pearl and bring its magic back home. The sands of time aren’t in our favor and, in a world full of deception, we are forced to face our worst fears. This is our story…

Citadel, Egypt, middle grade books to inspire wanderlust #egyptbooks #booklists #kidsread

One of the most enchanting, mind-boggling places I have ever visited is Egypt. With two trips to the country and almost two months spent in Cairo, I found that the history and the culture called out to the creative side in me. It wasn’t a surprise that I landed up putting my pen to the paper and writing The Elfin Pyramid.

Set in modern-day Egypt, the book mingles the past and the present as a group of elves race against time to find a stolen pearl and get back to their pyramid in time to save it. Things, however, were not meant to be easy and they find themselves facing numerous hurdles along the way.

The Elfin Pyramid inspires a person to look beyond just the external structure of the Pyramids of Egypt. It helps a person’s imagination take shape while simultaneously understanding a lot of the ancient Egyptian history (which is really cool!). I really fell in love with the country and I think I will go back someday soon as there is still so much that I haven’t seen.

From Globe Trove

6. London, UK

A Bear Called Paddington

by Michael Bond

The story of Paddington Bear begins on Paddington station in London, when the Brown family of 32 Windsor Gardens, come across the young bear waiting at the station. He’s carrying just a suitcase, an old bush hat and a sign around his neck from his beloved Aunt Lucy in Peru (‘please look after this bear’). The Browns adopt Paddington and he quickly becomes the center of life in their household. Paddington has an uncanny knack of causing uproar wherever he goes, due to his propensity for unwittingly causing misunderstanding – but always with the best of intentions.

Paddington exposes the quirks of British culture in a humorous and innocent way that also involves many London landmarks.

London, Paddington Bear, Middle grade books to inspire travel #paddingtonbear #middlegradebooks #booklist

There’s the obvious Paddington station reference (and there’s a statue there today), as well as hilarious stories of Paddington bringing the escalators on the London Underground to a halt as he tries to understand British escalator etiquette. Then there are trips to the department store for Christmas shopping – in Paddington, the store is called Crumbolds and Ferns, and it always reminds me of our Liberties or John Lewis department stores. One of my favorite episodes is in Paddington Races Ahead, when Paddington tries to board a London bus using a pair of fresh oysters – rather than an Oyster Card.

Throughout all the stories we learn of Paddington’s love of a marmalade sandwich (marmalade being a peculiarly British kind of jam!) as well as sticky buns and tea.  He is a very British bear!

From Epic Road Rides

7. Yellowstone National Park, the USA

The Mystery at Yellowstone National Park

by Carole Marsh

There are a lot of great books for kids, tweens, and teens to read before or during a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The Mystery in Yellowstone National Park is one of our favorites. The book is a fun read about two kids and their grandparents who snowmobile into Yellowstone. It’s part of the Real Kids Real Places series. In addition to exploring real places in Yellowstone during the winter, the family encounters a mystery they have to solve. Each chapter ends with a cliffhanger to keep the reader on the edge of their seat (or snowmobile!).

Yellowstone National Park in winter, USA, middle grade books to inspire wanderlust #yellowstonenationalpark #booklist #wanderlust

Marsh uses her two grandkids, her husband, and herself as the main characters as they explore real places and have fictional adventures. Marsh wrote the book after a trip to Yellowstone with her two grandkids. They explore the hot springs, geysers (including Old Faithful), mud pots, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for which the park is famous.

From Yellowstone Trips

8. Italy

Love & Gelato

by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Gelato, Italy, YA books to inspire wanderlust #yabooks #booklist #bookstoread

Lina is sixteen with a dying mother and all her mother wants her to do is go to Italy to get to know her father.  Of course, being sixteen, that’s the last thing she wants to do, but she goes anyways.  Once she arrives, she is given a journal her mother wrote when she lived in Italy.  Lina and her charming new friend Ren follow her mother’s footsteps around Tuscany and Florence on their own adventure learning about her parents and herself.

The book is set in the Tuscan countryside but includes frequent trips to nearby Florence. Make a trip to the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio with frequent stops to enjoy gelato. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the squares and walk around the streets and alleys. Explore the Tuscan countryside and take the train down to Naples for an afternoon and enjoy some pizza. Follow along on Lina’s journey through her mother’s journal.

From Red Around the World

 

9. Oxford, England

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

Oxford is a literary treasure trove, and many authors lived and studied here including Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lewis Carroll. It was actually in Oxford that Lewis Carroll met a real-life Alice who inspired the beloved children’s character Alice in Wonderland. Alice famously follows a white rabbit down a rabbit hole and ends up in a weird and wonderful world where she makes many friends and enemies.

Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was both a student and tutor at Christ Church in Oxford. Here, he met Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Dean. Several years later, Dodgson and the Liddell family were out on a boating trip and Dodgson created a story for the children as they rowed along. Alice asked him to write it down for her and, voila, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was born!

Alice in Wonderland in Oxford, middle grade books to inspire wanderlust #oxford #booklist #familytravel

Where to visit in Oxford

There are many Alice in Wonderland inspired places to visit in Oxford and you should start your tour at Christ Church. In the infamous “Harry Potter” dining hall here, you will find firedogs on either side of the fireplace with incredibly long necks. These inspired the events in the story where Alice ends up growing really tall with a super long neck! If you’ve got a keen eye you’ll also notice that there’s a tiny Alice and White Rabbit painted in one of the panels of stained glass.

Further afield in Oxford, you can visit Alice’s Shop, a shop wholly dedicated to Alice in Wonderland souvenirs. There’s also a rare specimen of the Oxford Dodo in Oxford University’s Natural History Museum, which is sadly now extinct. There is a painting of a Dodo in the museum which is thought to have inspired the Dodo in the story. This museum is wonderful for children and you could spend the whole afternoon here. If you’re feeling peckish at the end of your tour, head to Cafe Loco where the whole family can enjoy an Alice in Wonderland inspired afternoon tea.

Find out more about Alice in Wonderland in Oxford.

From What’s Hot?

10. Namibia, Africa

Tippi My Book of Africa

by Tippi Degré

When I asked my children which book had made them want to visit different places, they didn’t have to think long before they agreed “Tippi.”

Tippi is an extraordinary book, by an extraordinary girl. Written in the voice of 10-year-old Tippi. It’s the story of her life so far. She was born in Namibia, the daughter of French photographers. Her parents are documenting African meerkats..

Tippi believes that she can speak animal language. And when you read the book you can believe it too. The book brings out the magic of her friendship with the wild animals of Africa including a  28-year-old elephant and a jaguar.

It’s full of warm pictures showing little Tippi with her animal friends. This book and its pictures project Africa and Namibia through the eyes of an extraordinary child.

First I read it to them, and now they re-read it themselves.  Whenever they do so I hear the same question, “Mummy, when can we go to Africa?”

From The Travelling Twins

11. Kauai, Hawaii, USA

Aloha, Kanani

by Lisa Yee

Aloha, Kanani is from the American Girl series, and Hawaiian native Kanani was their first Girl of the Year. The story introduces middle grade readers to Kanani’s unique world in Hawaii through both a cultural and geographic lens.

Readers meet Kanani’s many “aunties” in the small town of Waipuna and learn about the slower pace of life than mainland USA. Also, they get to see Kanani and her friends spend their time helping their families or enjoying the natural wonders of Kauai’s north shore. But there’s a big shakeup in Kanani’s world when her cousin arrives from New York with a very different perspective and her own emotional challenges. 

From The Family Voyage

Oahu, Hawaii, Middle grade books to inspire travel #booklist #middlegradebooks

12. Prince Edward Island, Canada

Anne of Green Gables

by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables is about a little red-headed orphan girl named Anne who goes to live with Matthew and Marilla on Prince Edward Island. They want a boy orphan to help Matthew. However, there’s a mixup, and they end up with Anne instead.

After many misadventures and mishaps, they end up keeping her. The joyful Anne goes on many adventures with her best friend, Diana Barry. We love the drama and optimism of Anne’s character. For example, one day she’s in the “depths of despair”, the next she is blissfully happy.

Prince Edward Island, Anne of Green Gables #middlegradebooks #anneofgreengables

Anne lives in Green Gables, which was inspired by the Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish on Prince Edward Island. It’s visited by tourists throughout the year and a great place to reenact your favorite scenes from the book series.

Also, get tickets to see Anne of Green Gables, the Musical at the live theater at the Charlottetown Festival. In addition, today the Anne of Green Gables Museum and the L. M. Montgomery Birthplace are sites not to be missed.

Don’t forget to take a stroll along the beach and seek out some of the many lighthouses. Prince Edward Island is a beautiful place on its own but has more meaning when you read about Anne’s life there. Around every bend in the road, there are things to see to spark a connection to a scene or character for a true Anne fan.

From a 10-year-old Anne fan.

More books to inspire wanderlust:

Or to read when you visit these places! This is a list in progress, and I will update periodically.

 

  1. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo – France/Europe
  2. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick – France
  3. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy – France
  4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein – England/France
  5. The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – England
  6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – UK
  7. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond – London, England
  8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – Oxford, England
  9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – Oxford, England
  10. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – Oxford, England
  11. The Ravenmaster’s Secret by Elvira Woodruff – London
  12. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming – UK/Germany/Europe
  13. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  14. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch – Italy
  15. A Room With A View by E.M. Forster – Florence, Italy
  16. The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly – Poland
  17. The Good Master by Kate Seredy – Hungary
  18. Percy Jackson Book 1: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – Greece
  19. The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart – Greece
  20. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park – Korea
  21. Tales of a Korean Grandmother by Frances Carpenter – Korea
  22. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay – South Africa
  23. Tippi My Book of Africa by Tippi Degre – Namibia, Africa
  24. The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder – Egypt
  25. The Elfin Pyramid by Penny Fernandes – Egypt
  26. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster – India
  27. White Fang by Jack London – Alaska, USA
  28. Alamo All-Stars (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #6) by Nathan Hale – Texas, USA
  29. Book Scavenger (The Book Scavenger Series) by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman – San Francisco, CA USA
  30. Aloha, Kanani by Lisa Yee – Hawaii, USA
  31. Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool – Appalachian Trail, USA
  32. Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk – Massachusetts, USA
  33. The Mystery at Yellowstone National Park by Carole Marsh – Yellowstone National Park, USA
  34. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery – Prince Edward Island, Canada
  35. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare – Barbados/Connecticut, USA
  36. Whispering Graves by Brenda Felber – Concord, Massachusetts, USA
  37. Heidi by Johanna Spyri – Switzerland
  38. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lyn – China
  39. The Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark – Peru

Also, if you’re wanting a great list of books for various ages, check out Mini Travellers Children’s Book Recommendations!

What other middle-grade books inspire wanderlust? What about YA (young adult) books?

Can you think of another middle grade or YA book in an amazing setting? I’ve always wanted to visit the Greek islands dotted with windmills thanks to Mary Stewart’s The MoonspinnersDefinitely, it’s on my bucket list.

I would love to add to this list so if you have an awesome book that’s a source of wanderlust for you, please let me know! Put it in the comments below, and I’ll review it to read myself and add to the blog post.

Thanks for reading! Happy travels!

Want more book suggestions?

Pondering what books to read next? Get new books categories with the #40nextbooks challenge and see what I'm reading for each. #booklist #bookstoread

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The best middle grade books to inspire wanderlust and exploration. Middle grade and YA booklist for kids, teens, and family travel. #familytravel #kidsbooklist #bookstoread

Kids Travel Journal

Kids Travel Journal

A kids travel journal is the ultimate fun and memorable activity on a family vacation! You know all that time in the car or on the airplane? Use it wisely and have your kids reflect on what they’ve seen, eaten, and experienced!

Do your kids love to look back at old photos? What about old school papers and accomplishments?

Both of my kids do, especially my daughter. She is my child who likes to write stories, make lists, and have written and physical souvenirs of past adventures. If you’ve followed this blog at all you may have seen or downloaded the original kids travel journal I created for her.

While we still LOVE it, and it’s been great for past travels and adventures, the child is ready for something new.

That’s why I put together this new journal. Next week we’re heading off on a Spring Break road trip, and it requires something new and fresh for her to put her mind to!

In a hurry?

Scroll to get the travel journal bonus! Or PIN it for later here!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

A kids travel journal is the perfect road trip or air travel activity! Give the kids something to do as they travel, make memories, and reflect on new experiences. #kidstravel #traveljournal

 

The journey, not the arrival matters.

T.S. Eliot

Poet

What’s new in this kids travel journal?

First of all, I looked at quite a few ideas from my kids and others who’d used our original journal before. How could we make it better, more user-friendly, and still super-fun and engaging for kids?

One of the first things I did was change the size of the journal. Instead of a full page, I changed it to a half-sheet printout.

Why do you ask? Well, the half-sheet size is easier to travel with. It will fit in all sizes of bags, purses, backpacks, as a bookmark in a book, you name it.

It makes it easier to pull out and write/draw on any place you go whether it be in a car, a museum, or when you sit down to rest during a hike.

Record and reflect on family vacations with this printable kids travel journal. Fun and easy to take on the go, it's perfect for road trips, air travel, or any kids' outing! #kidstraveljournal #travelprintable

Another thing that’s changed is the amount of color vs. white space.

This journal has some pictures and color, but not as much as the last one. It was done on purpose so it’s easier to print out either in black and white, full color, or grayscale, depending on your preference. This also lets the child doodle in the edges and put in their own colors.

In addition, I’ve added some more prompts to spark kids imaginations.

For example, there’s a page for the day with the weather, how I feel, and other things listed. But then there are also pages on what I ate today, where I’m sleeping, who I saw, etc.

Depending on the kid, you may want to use all the pages or just a few and make more copies based on the length of the trip.

Filling out the kids travel journal. #kidstravel #printables

List of travel journal activity pages

  • Cover Page: My Travel Journal
  • Name and contact page with space to draw a self-portrait
  • Where in the world are you going? A world map to record where you travel.
  • Where in the USA are you going? A map of the USA to record where you travel.
  • The daily page includes:
    • Today’s Date:
    • I felt
    • The weather was:
    • I learned:
    • I met:
    • Three things I did today:
    • Today I traveled by:
  • What I ate
  • Written prompts: Three words to describe today, I miss…, I tried something new today!, I felt…
  • Out my window is a place to draw what they’ve seen out their window today!
  • Tonight we are staying… (where, and place to draw it)
  • Written prompts 2: The best thing about today was…, my least favorite thing was…, three words to describe this city/town are…, three questions I have are…
  • Today I learned a new word! This page includes a word bubble with an area to draw and a field to describe what it means.
  • Today I saw this! Includes a space to draw/color and descriptive words.
  • Here is a portrait of a person I saw today.
  • Today I saw this animal.
  • Trip Reflection page

Pages of the kids travel journal with a pen. #kidstraveljournal #kidsactivities

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Author, The Lord of the Rings


New Kids Travel Journal Bonus

Sign up for Explorer Momma’s newsletter and get the NEW Kids Travel Journal as a bonus! If you’re already on our list, awesome! You can still download the journal!

Preview of the new kids travel journal #kidstravel #kidstraveljournal

How to download the kids travel journal

First, enter your first name and email in the field below. Second, open up your email, and in a few minutes or less you should receive an email. Click on the button in the email to confirm your subscription to the Explorer Momma newsletter and your bonus kids travel journal should then download to your computer.

It’s that simple! Print out the entire thing or pick and choose the pages your child would most enjoy!

What do you think of the journal?

So far the journal has met approval with my own kids. We’ll be giving it the full road trip test next week, and I can’t wait to see how it goes!

After this one, as my daughter gets older we may turn to a basic blank journal with a few travel quotes here and there.

However, for now, when they’re in elementary school, this style of a journal is still appealing. It also makes kids think a bit about their travels. Who they’ve seen, what they’ve done, cultural differences, etc.

Do please let me know if you use it with the kids in your life! I hope it’s useful, and let me know if you have any suggestions to make it even better!

PIN it here for later:

An easy to use kids travel journal is perfect for any family vacation! Whether the kids are on a road trip, airplane, or train it makes a memorable travel diary. #traveljournal #kidstraveljournal

 

More kids travel activities:

  1. The Ultimate Road Trip Activities for Kids
  2. Kids Airplane Activities: Airplane BINGO
  3. 8 Ways to Survive a Long Layover with Kids
  4. The Complete Kids Carry-On Packing List

Kids Travel Journal

The Perfect Road Trip or Air Travel Activity! Click here to check our the Original Travel Journal Printable

Christmas Mystery Books to Read Next

Christmas Mystery Books to Read Next

Preview: Here’s your list of fun historical Christmas mystery books to read next! Grab a cushy seat by the fire, a blanket, and spiced tea. Now, read!

I don’t know about you, but at Christmastime, I naturally like to read books set in the same season. There are so many fabulous traditions and fun characters to be found, and so many problems to get mixed up in and hopefully then fixed at the family manor! Yes, one of my favorite genres at Christmastime is the historical mystery.

So, come on snow! Let’s get those yuletide fires going, spiced scents filling the air, and time to enjoy some good Christmas mystery books. Let’s go back to the Downtown Abbey Christmas mood with a twist of mayhem and detective work!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Do you love a good murder mystery at the manor? Christmas mystery books are one of my favorite genres and fabulous for de-stressing during the holidays. #christmasmysteries #christmasbooks

Why Christmas mystery books?

The historical mystery is always one of my favorite genres for de-stressing and getting a break from daily life. I find it especially important to make an escape a during the holidays and take some time out for myself. Also, I tend to be more of an introvert and so crave and need that time by myself to regroup and be ready for the next thing. What about you?

If you also need that time to yourself to recharge, don’t be afraid to send the crowd away for a while and enjoy a good book. Suggest they go on a fun ice skating outing or to a movie. Then you can take that time and dig into a stress-free murder mystery.

Christmas mystery books to read next

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas is a very enjoyable peek into an 1814 Regency Christmas with some detective work and murder thrown in. Jane and her family are invited to The Vyne, the ancestral country home of the prominent Chute family. Other friends and well-wishers join the Christmas party, and we have a traditional snow-bound Christmas.

With so many people unable to return home, one of the guests comes to an unfortunate fatal accident. But is it an accident? Jane and others investigate the politics, personal conflicts, and all the house suspects.

I found it delightful and fun to see Jane developing the characters for her next book, Persuasionon the heels of the successful Mansfield Park. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve read all of her books multiple times and like Bridget Jones, obsessed on the BBC’s miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice. Therefore, I’m preparing you before you read this book. Be warned! Jane Austen is being turned into a character here. I personally feel it’s fun, well-researched, and excessively diverting, so don’t let the real-life author turned character bother you.

Explorer Momma’s rating: ***** 5 stars

Spoil yourself and order it now on Amazon by clicking here!

12 Days At Bleakley Manor

by Michelle Griep

Don’t you just love this cover? It immediately invited me in because I think I know what to expect. It’s cozy and comforting and another snow covered Christmas at the manor! Set in the Victorian Era, there’s a twist to this one. In the case of Bleakly Manor, the guests are invited for various reasons and enticed with personal motivations, but alas the host is absent!

I read a review of this book that said it was reminiscent of a mystery dinner theater, and who doesn’t love that? In fact, I’m a huge fan of going a step further to the mystery dinner parties where you’re assigned a character, but I digress. With just a hint of romance and almost exaggerated characters, I had a wonderful time reading this book. Perhaps I’m being generous with the rating due to the Christmas season, but it was a fun escape to the English manor and an enjoyable read.

Explorer Momma’s rating: ***** 5 stars

Why not order it now on Amazon by clicking here?! (You know you want to)

Murder for Christmas

by Francis Duncan

Oh, look! Another Christmas party at a country home. Now we’re in the Golden Age, and with Murder for Christmas, we are introduced to amateur detective Mordecai Tremaine (if you haven’t already met him before in the series). Mordecai Tremaine reminds me of a mix between Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. He’s well-known for solving mysteries and murders, but when people meet him, he comes off as harmless and maybe not completely capable of comprehending what’s happening around him.

However, of course, he’s not the tottering old man perceived! Will he aid the police to discover the Christmas Eve murderer or be a thorn in their side? Who killed the man dressed as Father Christmas found at the foot of the Christmas tree?

This book is another good distraction and amusement, although because the writing does jump around slightly making it not quite as easy to follow, my rating is slightly lower.

Explorer Momma’s rating: **** 4 stars

Would you like to pick it up now on Amazon by clicking here? Enjoy!

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

by P.D. James

P.D. James, or rather Phyllis Dorothy James White, Baroness James of Holland Park, was born in Oxford, England in 1920. She is best known for her detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard, and this book indeed includes two of his stories. 

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories is a compilation of four stories by this great mystery novelist. With a more serious and sinister tone than the first books in this list, yet with a sly humor, these stories reveal the good, bad, and difficult aspects of human nature. A novelist recounts the story of a crime she herself was a party to 50 years previously, Dalgliesh’s godfather asks him to re-investigate the details of an inheritance, and so forth.

A good set of whodunits for the Christmas season, although the holiday aspect of them is not as in your face as some of the others.

Explorer Momma’s rating: **** 4 stars

Order it on Amazon by clicking here!

Do you need more Christmas book suggestions?

What Christmas Mystery book list is complete without Hercule Poirot? I’m always up for a good Agatha Christie novel!

Mistletoe and Murder: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery

by Carola Dunn

It’s December of 1923, and Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher is the daughter of the imperious Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple who’s decided they will all spend Christmas at, wait for it…the ancestral home of Lord Westmoor in Cornwall. Daisy is her own woman and displeases her mother by writing articles for publications such as Town and Country.

On this occasion, Daisy arrives at the home before everyone else to complete an article on the house itself and it’s history. When more guests and colorful characters arrive, although Lord Westmoor is absent, our scene is set for a colorful set of ghosts, schemes, and murder.

Daisy and her husband Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard investigate along with the help of their two children and Lord Westmoor’s poorer relations. I had fun with Daisy and the characters in this book and series.

Explorer Momma’s rating: ***** 4 1/2 stars

Treat yourself and order it now on Amazon by clicking here!

The Twelve Clues of Christmas

by Rhys Bowen

What can I say about The Twelve Clues of Christmas? Set in 1936, this is the sixth book in A Royal Spyness Mystery series. It can definitely be read as a stand-alone, and score! Once again we have a house party, but this time it’s the local villagers who are being murdered.

Penniless Lady Georgiana Rannoch finds herself stuck in her brother’s castle in Scotland facing a bleak Christmas with her penny-pinching sister in law and family. Her MIA boyfriend is exploring somewhere in South America so she gets herself a position as a hostess for a large house party in Devon, in the quaint village of Tiddleton-under-Lovey. Unfortunately, the villagers keep having fatal unrelated accidents.

Georgie begins her own investigation, of course, and looks into her list of house-guest suspects. A bonus in this book is the description of all the traditional English Christmas fare and joy! an appendix with recipes. I’m hungry.

Explorer Momma’s rating: ***** 5 stars

You need this book. Find it here on Amazon!

A Christmas Revelation

by Anne Perry

Now, what Christmas Mystery Books list is complete without representation by Anne Perry? I love a good Anne Perry mystery, her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, the Monk series, and my favorite the WWI series. Truly, I’ve read a lot of Anne Perry’s novels, and most Christmases I read at least one of her novellas or, in this case, Christmas novels.

The Christmas stories often make a supporting or side character of one of the series into the main character with their own Christmas mystery adventure. In this sentimental book, a nine-year-old former river urchin named Worm enlists the help of Squeaky Robinson to go to the aid of a kidnapped woman just before Christmas. Squeaky works in Hester Monk’s clinic and so here we have a new adventure with lesser-known characters in the Monk series. How can they help a woman who doesn’t want to be rescued?

I’m always happy with her Christmas books and really any of her novels. They are familiar friends, with characters I can depend on.

Explorer Momma’s rating: **** 4 stars

Order it now on Amazon by clicking here!

Give me some good Christmas mystery books

Now some of you, in fact, many of you, will say, “Give me a good Hallmark Christmas story”. I can do that. Sweet girl from the city has some major failure and fight with big city boyfriend. Girl goes to small town USA and falls for the local boy in a Christmas sweater who helps everyone in town. However, I can only do a couple of those a year and truly love that escape.

Give me some variety! Manor houses with snowbound guests, English puddings, and murders. Oh, yes. Throw a couple of those into your yearly Christmas readings. It’s the season for traditions and cozy family time. Take some time out of the Christmas rush and start another tradition, a good Christmas mystery. Cheers to you!

Merry Christmas!

Check us out on Instagram @explorermomma!

Pin it for later here!

Do you love historical mysteries? Christmas mystery books are some of my favorites around the holidays. Families stuck together in manor houses with lots of English Christmas goodies, what's not to love? Great Christmas booklist. #christmasbooklist #christmasmysteries

Explorer Momma Giveaway!

Explorer Momma Giveaway!

Welcome to Explorer Momma! I’ve been here before, you may say, but today we are celebrating the re-design of the Explorer Momma homepage! Yes, that’s right, the Explorer Momma website is getting a facelift, and in honor of our fabulous progress, we’re hosting an on-line Explorer Momma Giveaway and Party!

For those of you who aren’t as familiar with the site, let me tell you a little bit about our goals. Explorer Momma explores the world and all the flavor in it. I bring ideas for Momma chefs, adventurers, and bookworms. You can check out Explorer Momma for delicious kid-friendly keto and low carb recipes, travel tips and destinations with kids, and fun! I blog about amazing recipes, cultural experiences, and new adventures to make the world better for our kids. Where shall we adventure today?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Check out the new HOMEPAGE!

Explorer Momma header, exploring the world and all the flavor in it #familytravel #ketorecipes

Explorer Momma Giveaway and Party Invitation

What is this all about? Explorer Momma Re-Design Party

Why? Let’s get the word out about the Explorer Momma website and all its exciting upcoming content!

When? Please come to visit anytime, but the giveaway ends Friday, November 9th.

Where? On the website and social media

How? Check out the website and Explorer Momma social media. I’ll go into this in a minute. Then sign up through the Rafflecopter below!

 

Celebrate! Explorer Momma Giveaway and launch party #giveaway #ketorecipes

Explorer Momma’s Social Platforms

Are you a social butterfly? Join Explorer Momma on Social and help us spread the word!

PinterestFollow Explorer Momma on Pinterest #explorermomma

I’d love for you to come visit Explorer Momma on Pinterest! Pinterest is probably my favorite social platform, and I LOVE to find new recipes and travel destinations on this fun search engine. Follow my pinning by clicking here, and if you’d like to help spread the word PIN any and all PINS from my main Explorer Momma board here!

InstagramFollow Explorer Momma on Instagram #explorermomma

Next, click on over to Instagram and peruse Explorer Momma’s Instagram page. Click here to see my page and follow along! Be sure to click on the follow button!

Follow Explorer Momma on Facebook #explorermommaFacebook

Are you a fan of Facebook? You’ll find Explorer Momma there too! Follow us on Facebook by clicking here! Please follow our page and share any posts your friends might like!

Follow Explorer Momma on Twitter! #explorermommaTwitter

Help us tweet about Explorer Momma on Twitter! You’ll find the Explorer Momma page here! Again, I would love for you to follow and tweet what catches your fancy!

 

Pug in a yellow hat is ready to go to the Explorer Momma blog party #blogparty #pugsparty

Sign Up For Explorer Momma’s Weekly Newsletter

Are you signed up for Explorer Momma’s weekly newsletter? If not, sign up now to get all the info about the awesome new series we have in travel and low carb cooking.

 

Operation U.S. Parks

12 Days of Keto Christmas Cookies

Enter the Explorer Momma Giveaway!

Are you ready to get baking this holiday season? I admit, baking and preparing good foods for friends and family is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. Get yourself ready to bake with our 12 Days of Keto Christmas Cookies series by entering to win the Christmas Cookie Baking Set today! The winner, chosen at random, will get (sorry for the limitation but the winner must reside in the United States):

A Brand New Bellemain Heavy Duty Aluminum Half Sheet Pan, 18″ x 13″ x 1″!

 New Silicone Baking Mats – a 2-Pack from AmazonBasics!

AND my favorite part:

A New Christmas/Holiday Cookie Cutter Set – 9 Pack Stainless Steel Cookie Cutters!

Update your own cookie making supplies or use them as gifts! Or better yet, use them to make tins of Christmas cookies to give as gifts!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

AND…we have a winner! Thanks to everyone who entered and partied with us! Please spread the word if you know anyone who would enjoy ExplorerMomma.com!

Thank you for partying with us!

Thanks again for joining the party! I hope you explore the website and the new design. It’s meant to allow you to see more of the content Explorer Momma offers so click around! Then, follow along with us as we explore more food, travel, and fun! Also, thanks for sharing the website with friends and family on Social Media platforms or by word of mouth. It helps us a ton and allows us to share more recipes and fun destinations!

Cheers!

Lauren

 

Explorer Momma Giveaway! Win a Christmas cookie baking set and be ready for the 12 Days of Keto Christmas Cookies. Easy low carb cookies can be yours to get through the holidays without succumbing to sugar! #ketocookies #ketochristmas

Women’s What To Read Next: A Cold Weather Booklist

Women’s What To Read Next: A Cold Weather Booklist

Preview: In this booklist, you’ll find my current version of women’s what to read next. Strong women, powerful women, good stories, and inspiration. This is what I’ve been reading lately.

This post contains affiliate links which means I make a very small percentage if you click through and purchase something. All opinions are strictly my own!

We’ve made it to that time of year it’s actually starting to feel like fall. The high is a mere 54 fabulous degrees Fahrenheit today, and it’s a little cloudy. I don’t know about you, but that signals tea and book reading time to me! So naturally, I took myself off to Barnes and Noble. I made the excuse to my husband that Children’s Place is right there too, and the child really needs new jeans since his are two inches too short with holes in the knees.

I love bookstores

Like I really ever need an excuse to go hang out in a bookstore.

I love visiting bookstores, and it makes me very sad there are so few of them about nowadays. I’m sounding old, but many moons ago when I was in high school my best friend and I used to spend our Friday nights at bookstores. We’d get our latte or tea (I wasn’t doing black coffee at this time), listening to the new music, going through every book and picking just the right one. It was fabulous, and hey, you can’t get into a lot of trouble at a bookstore now, can you?

Women's what to read next booklist. Looking for the perfect book for chill weather? Literature, historical fiction, tragedy, comedy, pick one here! #booklists #whattoreadnext #whattoread #womensbooks #reading #explorermomma

 

Women’s what to read next

After a while of not being thrilled with my book choices (something was off), I’ve recently had a fabulous run of winners I’d strongly suggest to anyone. There are tales of inspiration, ghosts of the mind, difficult circumstances, powerful, intelligent women, and great storytelling. You know when a book pulls you in, and your mind won’t let you, and indeed you don’t want to, leave that world until those final pages have been turned? That happened to me on almost all of these books.

So let’s get started.

The Great Alone

by Kristin Hannah

This was a book recommended by someone in a Facebook group I’m in, and yes, I’m in several bookclub type groups. It caught my eye because of the location, to be honest. The setting is on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska in 1974, and the book begins with the main character’s family arriving from the Lower 48. My grandparents used to live in Homer, Alaska, a key location in the book and a place I’ve visited several times myself, so it naturally piqued my interest.

I agree there is this idea that if you need to get away from society you can escape to Alaska. In The Great Alone, after the Vietnam Conflict, one family is given land near Homer and their adventure begins. They have no idea what it will take to survive off the grid in an untamed wilderness. They encounter all types of people, all with their own stories and reasons for being there. It is the story of the family, a father fighting the demons of the Vietnam War, his wife who will do anything for him, and their daughter and her coming of age and survival story. A beautifully written book and one I stayed up until 3 am one night to finish! It’s engrossing with good story-telling, and I highly recommend it.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars.

 

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

by Genevieve Valentine

Imagine a well to do New York family in the 1920s. The father is a determined businessman who wants an heir and son. He and his wife have daughter after daughter until they have a collection of them upstairs he won’t admit to society. They don’t go to school, don’t go out, don’t visit others socially, they are kept in the house.

“Dressed up in the thrill and sparkle of the Roaring Twenties, the classic fairy tale of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ has never been more engrossing or delightful. Valentine’s fresh, original style and choice of setting make this a fairy tale reimagining not to be missed” (Library Journal, starred review).

So what do they do? It’s the roaring 20s! They learn to dance, and organized by their eldest sister Jo they sneak out at night to the clubs and find a home at the Kingfisher Club. Put on some 20s music as you read for there are bootleggers, raids, and drama. The story goes deeper focusing on each girl and is a fun read.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ****1/2 Four and a half out of five stars.

 

The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist I happened upon I believe through my library app suggesting it to me. I read it, and it was interesting because I then noticed it on the PBS list of top books to read and in my Barnes and Noble promo email. Quelle coïncidence! It seemed fated for me to read it.

This is the sweeping story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel. We already have something in common. But he wants to travel in search of worldly treasures. What does he truly want? How can he get it? Will he give up? Santiago learns many lessons along this mystical journey. He reads and listens to omens that come to him and follows his dreams. We all need some inspiration every now and then, and The Alchemist certainly delivers.

I liked this book very much and appreciated the positivity and determination in Santiago to never give up. Live your life and your dreams.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars.

Ready for the holiday season?

Are you ready to start your pile of cozy Christmas books by the fire? Here are some I recommend.

Cozy Christmas books, a Christmas booklist #christmas #christmasbooks #fireside #explorermomma

Cold Sassy Tree

by Olive Ann Burns

I picked up Cold Sassy Tree on the recommendation of a friend, and it was indeed a hilarious journey and character study. In the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia news and/or gossip spreads like wildfire. It’s 1906 and Grandpa E. Rucker Blakeslee announces only three weeks after Grandma Blakeslee’s in her grave that he’s going to marry the young milliner in his store, Miss Love Simpson. Yes, half his age and a Yankee! Gasp! His grandson, young Will Tweedy finds himself in the scandal while having adventures of his own. At 14, he’s growing up and has to deal with class and place, is run over by a train (literally), and does his best to keep the peace in his own household.

There are lots of characters from all over town in this one and an amusing read. I took this one about a chapter at a time and had fun with it.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ****1/2 Four and a half out of five stars.

 

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

by Jason Fagone

I have to say, I came upon this book quite by accident, and I consider myself lucky to have done so. This is not a novel but a popular history book that reads like a spy thriller, about a real-life character hidden in history in government secrets. This era of codebreaking is fascinating, and while I’ve seen movies and read books about the British side in Bletchley Park with Alan Turing and others, I didn’t know much about the American efforts in codebreaking in World War II.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes is the true story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman. We are introduced to her when she meets her partner in cryptology and future husband, William Friedman, at an eccentric tycoon’s estate just outside of Chicago where they both worked in 1916. They become an unstoppable team in codebreaking, or cryptology, in WWI and WWII.

See a part of the Amazon summary:

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation’s history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler’s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Due to the secrecy of Elizabeth’s missions and work, her story had never been told before, and she herself never spoke of it. She was true to the oaths she made to the government, and only recently have some of her records be declassified.

I LOVED this book, and if you have any interest in codes, codebreaking, espionage, and the history of World War II, you need to read this book. Elizebeth Friedman was a dynamic and powerful woman who was not afraid to use her mind. Read it!

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars!!! Maybe more.

 

The Thirteenth Tale

by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale is a book for those of you, like myself, who love the brooding stories of the Bronte sisters such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, with perhaps a bit of Wilkie Collins thrown in, The Moonstone. (And by the way, if you haven’t read those three books, by all means order them all now or get to your local library and remedy that error in your book reading ways).

Our main character, Margaret Lee, is summoned to the country to write the biography of famous author Vida Winter. Throughout her life, Ms. Winter has invented many versions of her origins and life story to shield the truth. Now is the time to share her tale with Margaret, who has her own clouded and troubled story of her birth and childhood.

In this book, you get great characters, abandoned country houses, destroyed topiary gardens, ghosts, wild twins, a great house fire to conjure up scenes of Jane Eyre, and so much more. It’s a way of bringing those past ghosts to light and freeing those in the present of their haunting.

I know those who absolutely obsess over this book and how good it is. Yes, I enjoyed the book very much and a return to the feel of some of those Victorian novels. Each character (and there are quite a few of them!) is well-developed and well-placed in the setting. I don’t obsess over it, but I do definitely recommend reading it! It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time to really transport me back in time through good storytelling.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars.

Sugar free latte with almond milk at Barnes and Noble #booksandcoffee #ilovebooks #explorermomma

Books and coffee

So now, this is me telling you, go to your local bookstore! Enjoy your sugar-free almond milk latte (that’s mine above) or coffee, or tea, or whatever! Take some time for yourself and just breathe in the books. Wander about the bookstore and find the perfect one for your mood or pick one on my list above.

Today I found myself perusing the military history section of the bookstore. Why? Well, why not? I love history, and read a lot of historical fiction, but sometimes the true stories are even more compelling. If I hadn’t hung out in the military history section I might never have found The Woman Who Smashed Codes. Of course, you can do this section hopping on your phone or online too, I just happen to enjoy the luxury of doing it in a real bookstore!

So I challenge you! Try a new genre or section to choose your next read. You just might find your new obsession.

How to get a FREE US National Parks pass

How to get a FREE US National Parks pass

There’s something magical about being a kid in a national park. Everything is new and wondrous and makes an imprint in your mind that will last a lifetime. Did you know that every single fourth grader in the United States can get a FREE Every Kid in a Park Pass? Yes, a free US National Parks pass. It’s good for the entire family for the whole year and gets you into not just National Parks but all federal lands and waters. How cool is that?! My daughter’s in fourth grade this year and has so inspired our year we’ve titled “Operation US National Parks for Families”.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Impact of U.S. National Parks on kids

I grew up in Colorado and feel as though Rocky Mountain National Park is my own backyard and safe haven or escape. It is and will always be near and dear to my heart, but another national park also made a huge impact and imprint on my childhood. When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in Homer, Alaska. We were fortunate enough to be able to travel up there to visit them a couple of times and also experience the magic that is the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Kenai Fjords National Park, glacier calving

I remember being entranced by the glacier and the huge variety of wildlife I saw in one relatively small area. We took a tour on a little tour boat, and I think my hands were on the bars at the very front with the wind blowing in my face the entire time. I leaned over to see porpoises jump next to us as we sailed along, whales breach and wave their tales in hello, colorful puffins in the rocky cliffs, the bark of sea lions lounging on rocks, a moose on the hill, and SO much more. In a time way before the Wild Kratts entered our lives this was a miracle for me to see. AND it was live and in person, real and in the wild to my mind. It was not a zoo.

Kenai Fjords National Park, sea lions

What is Operation U.S. Parks for Families?

Operation U.S. Parks for Families is a series of blog posts to be featured throughout the  2018-2019 Every Kid in a Park Pass year. The goal of this series is to inspire families to visit national parks together and provide them with ideas for amazing activities in each park they can do as a family.

Who will be featured in Operation U.S. Parks

To begin, Operation US National Parks for Families will feature some of our own fabulous past experiences at national parks. In addition, throughout the year I’ll be highlighting our CURRENT travels to different parks and federal lands. Then as an even bigger BONUS I’ll be highlighting the experiences of other families all over the country! I’m so excited about this aspect of the series so we can provide a broader picture of family experiences with different opinions, likes, dislikes, and interests!

Operation US National Parks for Families. Join our family and more as we travel the United States together. Learn how to get your free US National Parks pass! #travelwithkids #usnationalparks #everykidinapark #explorermomma

Get your FREE US National Parks Pass and join us! 

Would you like to join us for Operation US National Parks for Families Journey? We’d love to have you! Sign up for our newsletter to receive weekly updates on where we’re exploring! Will it be the caves in Carlsbad, New Mexico? Maybe, you’ll get to see and read about an adventure to the giant redwoods and sequoias of Sequoia National Park! Perhaps, if you’re really lucky, we’ll journey to Watkins Glen National Park in New York for scenery and kid-friendly hikes that could be straight out of a Tolkien book. So get your cloaks, backpacks, tents, elf-ears, or whatever you’d like to prepare and join our EPIC National Parks journey today!

How to sign up for your Every Kid in a Park Pass

How do you get your free US National Parks Pass? It is so super simple. All you do is go to the official US Government website here. Explore the website or just click on “Get Your Pass”. As I’m writing this they’ve recently updated the site for the 2018 to 2019 school year. Your fourth grader answers a few questions to make a diary entry to begin to figure out how they’d like to use their new pass. It’s super-easy and a fun activity.

free US National Parks pass, Hand on mouse

Once you sign up and complete the diary on the website, there will be a ticket to print out. Now, you can use it as your yearly pass, or you can take it to your first park or water area, show a ranger, and obtain a wallet-sized card for the year. Did I mention it’s FREE? What an awesome deal to bring families together in nature!

Congratulations! Free US National Parks pass

The next step is to take the family on hundreds of adventures until the card expires August 31, 2019 (or the current school year). Do you know what? If you miss something or don’t have time, little brother can get his own pass in the next year or two. Then you get to plan for that national park year as well!

How to use your free US National Parks Pass

If you’re going to use it you’ve got to plan your first trip! Are you going to camp in the woods? Do you want to see protected animals and wildlife? Maybe you’d just like to find your nearest park to start! Before you go read the official rules here. Then, just present your ticket as you enter the park! The park ranger will trade your printed paper copy of the ticket for an official Every Kid in a Park card, and your fourth grader will sign it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Every Kid in a park pass, free US National Parks pass

There are sooo many opportunities for exploration and fun with this pass! Literally, you’ve got hundreds of places to visit near or far, it’s up to you.

Plan your trip with Operation U.S. Parks for Families

Now, I challenge you! Get out and explore! Follow along with our blog series and gain inspiration. Yes, I formally invite you to travel along with us virtually on our Operation U.S. Parks for Families journey. You can create your own adventures, the sky’s the limit! It’s such fun to plan destinations as a family and give every member a say. Will you visi Mesa Verde National Park, Shenandoah National Park, or maybe Mount Rushmore National Monument?

The choice is yours.

Can you tell I’m excited!?

Lily Ridge Trail with free US National Parks pass

Carlsbad Caverns National Park for Families

10 Musts for visiting Carlsbad Caverns with kids

Let’s travel with our free US National Parks pass!

I am so thrilled to explore our US National and State parks all over the country! My family and I will be planning and writing about our own trips using the Every Kid in a Park Pass. Also, we’ll all have the opportunity to travel virtually all over the country with other National Park loving families. Truly, I cannot wait to see the beauty of our parks and hear about the super-awesome and life-changing family experiences only nature can inspire and bring together.

My friends, I hope you follow along with us on this magnificent journey to explore our US National Parks!

I’d love to see your own adventures! Tag me in your National and State Park travel pics on Instagram @explorermomma.

Explore a National Park today!

Pin this article to save and share!

Operation US National Parks for Families. Join our family and more as we travel the United States together. Learn how to get your free US National Parks pass! #travelwithkids #usnationalparks #everykidinapark #explorermomma     Did you know you can get a FREE US National Parks pass? Find out how and join our family travel adventure around the United States. #operationnationalparks #everykidinapark #familytravel #ustravel #explorermomma

Thanks to all and HAPPY TRAVELS!

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