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Cheerios® is giving you the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, your ultimate family vacation. As part of a paid promotion for their “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, Cheerios® is sponsoring my post today about what my ultimate family vacation would be. Read mine and Enter the Sweepstakes for a chance to actually win your own fantasy family trip or one of a bunch of other great prizes.

Every summer, from first (or maybe second) grade on, my folks and I drove from our home in Michigan up to Wawa, Ontario, for a week or two at Whitefish Lodge. You can’t find a much more remote area — Wawa is about three hours north of the U.S./Canada border, and then the lodge is another 20 or 30 minutes from Wawa. Once you reach the turnoff from the main road, you’ve still got a few kilometers down a windy, narrow dirt road before you reach the end, and your reward — a group of lovely, authentic log cabins overlooking picturesque Whitefish Lake, a body of water flanked by unspoiled hills and mountains on every side.

My parents fish, you see, and that’s what our family vacations generally revolved around.  We went to the same place, eventually picking our favorite cabin and coming back to it, year after year. We hit the best fishing spots and, though the scenery remained much the same, our memories from each year were just a little different. Some years, the weather was warm and I would swim and tube behind the boat (at least, until my screams of “Go faster! Faster!” coincided with an ill-timed wave and flipped me off the tube), and others, it would be cold and rainy and we’d focus on blueberry pancakes. The set-up was so perfect that my parents eventually ended up buying a place just down the road from the lodge.


beach sunset

Not Hawaii, but still pretty


As much as I enjoyed these trips, my idea of the perfect family vacation couldn’t be more different. Sure, there’s a part of me that very much appreciated the comfort of returning to the same place each year (like the St. Pete/Redington Beach area, obviously), sleeping in the same bed, seeing the same people and having many of the same adventures. But, as I got older, met Jared, and we began to travel a bit more on our own, we discovered that we seem to have the most fun when we’re someplace entirely new. Especially if the ocean is nearby.

The ultimate vacation for our little family of two would be filled with sand and sea, but also exploration, knowing something new awaits us every morning. So, I think our ideal trip would have to be two or three weeks in Hawaii. Jared has been once, just for a few days for work, and I’ve never even set foot on the soil.

The dream Hawaii vacation would include a few days on all the islands. On Oahu, we’d watch the surfers on North Shore (and get lessons somewhere with considerably less-intimidating waves — and hey! I could cross “learn to surf” off my life list!) and have some drinks on Waikiki Beach. We’d go whale watching in Maui, and get a little closer than we probably should to an active volcano on the Big Island. One of my best friends counts taking a helicopter ride over Kauai as one of the defining moments in her life, so there’s no way we’d miss that. We’d learn how to hula on Molokai (well, at least I would), and, on Lanai, we’d hike and relax.

Hawaii is a huge draw to our family in so many ways. It’s an incredibly versatile vacation with loads of wildlife and nature and unparalleled beauty, but there’s also so much to learn about Hawaii’s culture and history. Also, from what I understand, the seafood is positively magnificent — I’m crossing my fingers I don’t decide to go full-out veg before we make this trip!

And, for those of you who are wondering, we will make this trip. It might not be in the next year or two, but we fully intend to go while hiking and biking and surfing day after day still sounds like a good idea. But, here’s the kicker — the moment we get home, I’ll have a new Ultimate Vacation in mind. Because, you know, the best vacations are the ones you have not yet taken, right?

Don’t forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.