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Family Vacation With a Two-Year-Old?

Editor’s note: The Deal Detective is on vacation this week, so he’s enlisted a helpful reader to assist him with this week’s case. He’ll return next Thursday, March 13, in’s Deal Alert newsletter.

Dear Deal Detective:

In November 2008, my wife and I will be celebrating our five-year wedding anniversary. If it was only the two of us we’d have no problem picking a destination. However, at that time we will also have a two-year-old and would love to take her with us … But where? At first we were thinking Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. We love the mountains and neither of us has been to those destinations. But with a two-year-old? How will that work? Then we thought of a beach or warm weather. But where? We don’t need something fancy or extravagant … just nice quality time with our small family. So that is why I come to SmarterTravel: to pick your brains … and to hear your suggestions. We’re listening.

—Michael P.

Dear Michael,

A few weeks ago I asked your fellow readers to help answer your question. The most enthusiastic response came from Rhonda Peterson, who weighed in with the following suggestion.

“When our children were teenagers, we took a vacation to Kings Island amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio. We live in Michigan, so we drove and pitched a tent at a nearby campground. While my husband and myself were wandering around the park and our teenagers were occupying themselves on the rides, we came across the kiddie section.

“Wow, it was awesome—it’s Nickelodeon, complete with a slime section and characters! But we had no young kids … so we made a vow to come back as soon as we had grandchildren.

“Needless to say, a decade later we have a grandson! We took our now adult children with their spouses, along with our grandson, back to Kings Island amusement park—and it was great! I can’t describe what an awesome time our grandson had. It was a blast for us too, and our son was able to spend some quality time with his son on some of the rides. It was a win/win all the way around.

“I highly recommend Kings Island. It is an amusement park in the woods, so it’s very shaded from all the trees, not like a lot of the other parks that are just cement all over and you spend the whole day roasting. The water park ticket is included in the price. You do not need to buy a separate pass for it, so you can bounce between the two areas if you do get hot.

“I think Michael and his family would thoroughly enjoy themselves. It has worked for us … twice!”

Reader questions

Can you help either of these readers find the right deal or destination? Email me your suggestions. I’ll print the best answers in an upcoming column. Note that I’ll use your full name unless you ask me not to. As always, I’ll never share your email address with anyone.

“We are a military family of six looking for an all-inclusive five-day Caribbean getaway. We’re not opposed to any particular island or even Mexico, however our budget is $500 per person. Two adults and four children ages 13, 12, 10, and five. We would like to leave any time after June 30, preferably during the July 4 weekend. We can fly from Harrisburg, Philadelphia, or Baltimore. If necessary I guess we could depart out of Newark, New York, or Washington, too, however this would need to be a significant cost reduction in the fare since our budget is $3,000. Any help would be greatly appreciated.”—Joseph V.

“My husband and I are planning a cruise for my retirement and our 30th anniversary in June and we’ve never been on a cruise. I’m afraid I’ll get seasick so I would like to know the best ships as far as stability. We are also trying to find the best place to go. We are in our fifties and enjoy pretty beaches, good food, and seeing new areas. I would appreciate it if you could answer my questions. Thank you!”—Kim in Missouri

Have a question of your own? Please email me your request. Be aware that due to the volume of requests I receive, I cannot personally respond to every email. The more compelling your question, the better the chance you’ll be selected for an upcoming case.

All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.

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