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Friday, April 15, 2016

Take An Outdoor Family Adventure

Meghan Harpole and Meg Merrick took their boys Grayson, 8 and Gentry, 9 to the Outer Banks.

By Megan Seckman 

You won’t catch Meghan Harpole and her partner, Meg Merrick, under the same umbrella at the same beach sipping the same cocktail each spring break. Nope. This family thirsts for the next new experience in outdoor adventure. Their vacations — and there have been a lot of them — rarely ever repeat: Vieques, Puerto Rico; Boyne Highlands, Michigan; Snowshoe, West Virginia; Charlottesville, West Virginia; Alaska; The Outer Banks; St. Louis, Missouri; Tybee Island, Georgia; and Wood Creek Lake, Kentucky, to name a few.

Gentry and Grayson in Vieques, Puerto Rico
“Meg and I don’t give presents to our boys [Gentry, 9 and Grayson, 8], we give memories. Traveling is what we choose to spend our money on, and we tend to take three or four trips a year: at Christmas, spring break, a summer trip, and a long weekend squeezed in somewhere. It’s our passion; there’s so much to see and so much to do out there. I think experiencing the world together keeps us happy and our relationship strong,” says Meghan Harpole, an ER nurse.

Boyne Highlands, Michigan

Glacier Tour, Alaska
Meghan describes her typical vacation as an active one, so at the time of this interview, they were planning their spring break trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee, dubbed the Best Town Ever by Outdoor magazine. “This will be one of the only repeats we’ve ever had because I fell in love with this town! I googled ‘Family Fun Vacation’ as I always do before a trip and had no idea that Chattanooga had so much to offer. It’s one of the cleanest towns I’ve ever been to, they have one of the longest walking bridges in the world, there are some fantastic museums, and the city is in the middle of a beautiful natural forest. The boys were too young to raft the first time we visited, so that gave us a reason to go back. We stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo the first time; this time we might camp.”

Chattanooga, Tennessee offers a 3 night or week-long suggested itinerary if you’d like to visit this nearby town for a long weekend or extended stay this summer. Here are the highlights, most of which can be accessed using the city’s free electric shuttle:
• A top-rated Tennessee Aquarium
• Hang gliding (Chattanooga is the hang gliding capitol of the U.S.)
• Tennessee riverboat cruises, double decker bus tours, walking or ghost tours
• White water rafting on the Ocoee River
Hunter Museum of American Art and Bluff View Art District
Chattanooga Market, voted in the “Top 10 Public Markets in America” by Frommers
Tennessee Valley Railway Museum (ride a locomotive)
• Native American and Civil War historical sites
Chattanooga Zoo
• Chattanooga Choo Choo (visit or stay a night or two in a train car hotel room)
• Creative Discovery Museum (a hands-on children’s museum)
• Lookout Mountain for hiking

Family’s Highlight: There is literally something for everyone here: art, history, outdoors, museums, and shopping. Renaissance Park was a great park on the river for breaks in between all the adventure.

What was one of your best family vacations?

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