Special Report

16 Trips to Take Before the Kids Go Back to School

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Alaskan cruises

It’s not too late to book an Alaskan cruise. In fact, more than 100 are scheduled for August departure from a variety of ports such as San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Canada; Seward and Whittier, Alaska, on cruise ships big and small. While on board, be sure to keep your eyes open for whales, dolphins, birds, glaciers, and other natural wonders as you relax and enjoy cruise-ship amenities while traveling between ports. Once on shore, avail yourself of guided excursions, or discover the sights on your own.

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Rock on at the Rock Hall

Even though Woodstock 50 fizzled out, don’t give up your dreams of introducing the younger generation to this famous music festival. Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (aka the Rock Hall), has a special exhibition commemorating 1969’s fondly remembered music and mud fest. On display are concert films, photos, stage costumes, recordings and reminiscences from some of the performers. Tired of Woodstock? No worries, this is a place where you can find your niche in the history of rock, from Louis Jordan to Elvis to Kurt Cobain to the Sugarhill Gang.

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Whether you prefer rough camping in a tent without daily access to running water and electricity, or glamping with all the comforts of home (or even more amenities), August is a wonderful month for communing with the great outdoors. Nights aren’t likely to be chilly, which makes for comfortable sleeping. It’s also a good time for sitting out and enjoying the starry skies. There will be lots of stellar activity, thanks to the Perseid meteor showers. The best viewing is likely early in the month; at its peak, there may be 50 or more shooting stars per hour, a breathtaking sight. If a tent — plain or fancy — feels too exposed for your comfort level, consider booking a few nights in a treehouse, where songbirds and rustling leaves will help you connect with the glories of nature.

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Get Your Kicks on Route 66

How many highways have lent their names to a song, a TV series and a movie? Route 66, the winner of that pop culture trifecta, is the quintessential highway of the American imagination. When it opened in 1926, it was the first year-round road linking Chicago and Los Angeles; it was decommissioned in 1985, replaced by other, faster superhighways. It’s still a fun road to drive, its elderly motels and kitschy tourist attractions have a certain mystique that can’t be matched by the slick chain accommodations and dining options that line our interstates. Plus there’s lots of must-sees along the way, from the Grand Canyon to the Cadillac Ranch.

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Big Sky, Montana

Lovers of the great outdoors are likely to be in their element in Big Sky, Montana. Tucked in between Bozeman and Yellowstone, Big Sky offers biking, hiking, horseback riding and rock climbing at levels geared from beginner to experienced. Fishing, hunting and golf are also on the outdoor activities menu, as is river rafting, from the mellow to the heart-pounding. If you can tear your youngsters away from the ziplines, rope courses, and bungee trampolines, you may want to check out Big Sky’s guided tours of Yellowstone.

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