When people hear road trip in the same sentence as three and five year old, their initial reaction is “Are you crazy?” Crazy we are not! We took our first road trip last summer when the kids were 2 and 4. While I had doubts about whether or not we would make it, we had the most incredible family vacation! We promised to venture out on the open road with the kids each summer to make more family memories.
As the kids get older, they want to know more about what we did when we were kids. They like hearing about where we went to school and what silly things we did. Each night before they go to bed, we tell one story about what one of us did when we were “little”. When my husband was “little”, he went to Michigan State University. Since he met me, he has only been back once. When the opportunity presented itself to head to Michigan for a road trip, the kids — and daddy — were so excited to see daddy’s school. I felt equally excited to see what Michigan’s attractions and began planning a fun trip for the kids.
Before we left on our Michigan road trip
Road trips don’t just happen. They take a lot of planning — and trips to Costco — to make sure that you are prepared. Once we knew how many days we would be gone, we started planning. We planned enough activities with reasonable drive lengths in between to ensure everyone would be entertained and have what they needed.
Find new roads
You need the right vehicle for the trip. Chevrolet offered us a Chevrolet 2018 Traverse for our trip. Right away, I knew it would be the perfect car for us, based on the space alone. With four people, we need dependable luggage with enough room for all of our stuff! We always rely on Ricardo Travel luggage to carry everything we need.
We needed room for two car seats, luggage for everyone, toys, a stroller and of course snacks! I met the Chevrolet team to learn about the Traverse, and the car is truly amazing for families. The 7-seater offered so much more space than other cars I have driven in the past. The space in the trunk felt endless and everyone had so much legroom in all seats of the car. It was really easy to access the third row, even with a car seat on the seat in front of it. Not too many cars give you the ability to tilt the seat forward while a forward-facing car seat is installed, but this car does.
Staying entertained in the car
In terms of entertainment, the 2018 Traverse is equipped with Wifi. I spent so much time in the planning phase of the trip ensuring that I had downloaded enough shows on Netflix, but with Wifi, there is no need! It created such a peaceful environment for us all! I was able to do some work and ensure things were running on the site and the kids were each entertained on their own device watching their own shows (no fighting over Netflix characters). My husband enjoyed streaming music on Pandora listening to The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, who are from Michigan! This was such a pleasure and took our car experience to a new level.
When the kids weren’t on the Ipads, they were decorating and playing with their Great Pretenders puppets. These were the perfect activity for the car. They colored them day after day changing how they looked and in the hotels, they played together putting on a puppet show! We try to keep toys to a minimum on road trips and prefer to bring a few toys that are multi-purpose!
What to do and where to go in Michigan
My car contained two really big sports fans! We checked if we could catch a game during our one day in Detroit, but we struck out (ha!) Instead, we drove around to look at all the sports stadiums. We saw Comerica Park, Ford Field and the new Little Ceasars arena. We stayed at the The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit and walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. When we left dinner, we saw lots of people playing sports across the street. We walked over to see what was going on and my sports lovers were invited to sign-in and play. They were so excited to participate in this free city run program where kids and adults of all ages shot baskets on the courts!
Our Savvy Sassy Moms Managing Editor, Angela, lives in Michigan, so the next day we got up and drove to meet her! If you follow us on Instagram and watch our Insta Stories, you would have seen our introduction! It was such a pleasure to meet such a valuable Savvy Sassy team member in person! Even our kids were excited to meet! We were sad to say our good-byes, but we had to get on the road again to continue our trip.
Lansing is the capital of Michigan, and Michigan State University is in East Lansing. We love visiting University towns. We found the campus quiet, since we visited during summer months. However, we all enjoyed my husband’s private tour of what his life was like when he lived there years ago.
We went to Michigan State University and walked through the library. Our kids were confused as to why there were no children’s books on the shelves! After a tour of the classrooms, we ended by looking at the graduating class pictures and played a little game of Where’s Waldo as they tried to find a picture of younger version of their dad! We enjoyed lunch at his favorite restaurant from back in the day, Buffalo Wild Wings, and purchased some Michigan State gear before getting back on the road! Go Spartans Go!
We left East Lansing and drove just a few hours to Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is known for it’s breweries. We are not big beer drinkers, but this has helped to draw in a younger crowd. We stayed at the J.W. Marriott hotel on the water, which had a beautiful view and was just a skip away from the heart of downtown where locals are playing live music on the street and people are eating on the patios at one of the many restaurants. It was a perfect place to stay and made for a great location for day trips. We enjoyed dinner at the local pizza place, Big O’s Cafe which was delicious — and the perfect place to dine with kids!
For us, every road trip must include a trip to an amusement park. With one of the best water parks around, you must visit Michigan’s Adventure. We arrived a bit before it opened to ensure good parking and didn’t have to wait too long to get in. When we arrived, we realized we should leave our watches in the car since they weren’t waterproof. The Chevrolet Traverse has a hidden valet compartment for you to lock up your belongings. The navigation screen opens when you enter valet mode. We placed our items inside and then locked it with our own unique code. In my opinion, this is a great added feature!
Michigan’s Adventure provided a day full of fun! The kids enjoyed spotting Snoopy and the gang all around the park. The lines weren’t too long and the water park was amazing! The kids had a blast on all the slides on such a hot day! While we were there, we brought our own water bottles and True Lemon packs to stay hydrated. The lines to get food and drinks were long, and we were grateful we didn’t have to line up for drinks!
While we love heading to the amusement park, we try to keep the kids’ sugar intake down while we are there. We like to focus on the fun — not the treats. Bringing our own True Lemon packets not only saved our sugar intake, but it also helped to keep our spending down!
Jonah is a little daredevil. In fact, he tells that us that the only ones not afraid of anything are him and sharks! Before we left, we showed him a video from Treetop Adventures and he couldn’t wait to go zip-lining. We were prepared for some off roading in the Chervolet Traverse on the way to the zip line park, but it turns out, it is in a shopping plaza! You would never believe that just a few steps off of a parking lot was this amazing zip line park in the forest!
While they have zip lines for both kids and adults, it was more fun for us to watch Jonah than to zip line ourselves this time. The staff were incredibly helpful and gave him a full tutorial on exactly what to do before giving him the freedom to go on his own. The kids course is made up of 5 zip lines that they can do time and time again. The adult course is just to the side and around the kids park so it would have been easily accessible had one of us wanted to go. This was definitely a highlight for Jonah!
Potter Park Zoo
With a long drive back to Detroit to head to the airport, we needed one last pit stop. We chose Potter Park Zoo, a really cute neighborhood zoo — the perfect stop for a few hour visit. Each part of the park was fun and engaging, from the pony rides to the petting zoo. We enjoyed listening to the lion’s loud roars and enjoyed a train ride just before we left! We loved the community vibe and definitely recommend a visit.
The Chevrolet Traverse provided such a smooth ride while driving through the beautiful state of Michigan. While it is a big car, it doesn’t feel that way when it drives. We couldn’t get over its amazing turning radius! We had another successful family road trip and I would definitely recommend Michigan for your next family adventure!
Join us to see some of our favorite Michigan road trip memories in our Chevrolet Traverse.
Disclosure: We drove the Chevrolet Traverse as part of a media program. All opinions are our own.