It’s tough being an expat during the US-specific holidays. Sure, there are many more holidays here in Germany than in the US (the month of May felt like a big holiday, my husband didn’t have a full week of work that month)! But when people back home are celebrating the traditions I grew up with, without me, it makes me a little homesick.
Fortunately, I’ll be celebrating the 4th on the 5th with another expat family in the Netherlands. As we were planning our 4th on the 5th, it got me thinking. There are some experiences that I really want my kids to have. Here they are.
50 American experiences I want for my kids
In no order:
- Celebrate Christmas in New York City: It doesn’t have to be Christmas Day, just the season.
- Eat deep dish pizza in Chicago: I didn’t even like deep dish pizza until I had the real stuff on a visit to Chicago.
- Road trip across the US, and train trip back: I have a book of great American road trips, so many to choose from, how will I narrow it down?
- Visit the Chattanooga area: Rock City, Ruby Falls, the aquarium, I’m there.
- Spend at least one day at every Disney Park: The four in Florida, and the two in California
- Sit around a bonfire on the beaches of Southern California: I’m not sure if this is something that just happened on The O.C. (don’t call it that), but I want in.
- Hike Mt. Rainier: I did this over 10 years ago and I long to go back. I loved seeing billy goats and chipmunks up close.
- Watch New Year’s Eve fireworks in Boston: This isn’t a popular NYE destination, but it is a family friendly one and the city has a lot going on.
- Camp in as many National Parks as we can: I can’t even specify a few because I want to go to so many.
- Hop museums in Washington D.C.: Especially my favorite, the Air and Space Museum
- Explore every part of Florida: This is where we called home before we moved and there is too much I want to do here, enough for a whole new post.
- Reunite with family on Mackinaw Island: This is a place I’d love to spend time with extended family.
- Compare Lobster Rolls and Clam Chowder at restaurants throughout New England: Since my dad’s from this area I would love to compare the many options available.
- Look at the boats at Mystic Seaport: I went as a kid and I want to go back with my kids.
- Eat at In and Out Burger: Sadly, trying food in different areas of the country is high on my list.
- Ski in Vail, CO: Don’t let the active nature of this point fool you. I ate one of the best breakfasts of my life here and I want to go back.
- Be weird in Austin: If we’re talking about my kids, they won’t have to try too hard.
- Eat fried peanut butter & banana sandwiches in Memphis: And visit Graceland while there. I don’t think they’ll care about Elvis, but I want to take them there.
- Have a National Lampoon’s Vacation moment at the Grand Canyon: I don’t imagine our visit there to be any other way.
- Drive the Pacific Coast Highway: Taking many stops in Northern California and anywhere a waterfall exists.
- Gaze at the Northern Lights in Alaska: Preferably on the shortest day of the year
- Learn about the presidents at Mount Rushmore: Then drive all around that area of the US which is just so foreign to me since I’ve never been.
- Take surfing lessons in Hawaii: Are the waves too high there for beginners?
- Go back to Buffalo during the wing festival: Then head to Niagara Falls afterwards.
- Climb up Stone Mountain: Learn a little history of the Deep South.
- Stay at a bed and breakfast in Savannah: I’m not much of a B&B fan, but if I did it anywhere it would be Savannah.
- Check out the sites in Baltimore: I feel this city is often overlooked.
- Attend Space Camp: I’m jealous that my husband did this and I never day.
- Sleep in a treehouse hotel: Unless we can build one at our parent’s homes or a friend’s place.
- Watch a high school football game: In Texas, in the style of Friday Night Lights.
- Find an antique toy while going to the longest yard sale in the world: If they’re going to go to a yard sale, may as well be the biggest one.
- Eat a hot dog at a baseball game: I prefer this to be while watching the Red Sox or the Yankees, my husband will want it to be the Tigers
- Dance at prom or homecoming: I’m not sure if we’ll live in the states while they’re in high school, but these experiences make me want to.
- Volunteer for an organization of their choice: Volunteering isn’t so big here.
- Spend spring break visiting colleges: And I’ll try not to be too pushy on the specific choices.
- Enjoy an M&M blizzard at DQ: There’s just some things that can’t be replicated outside the original.
- Celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with a bunch of family and friends: The kind of dinner people always complain about.
- Watch a movie in a park: And bring some picnic items with us.
- Attend a harvest festival: Or two or three.
- Go trick or treating: Last year we were there for Halloween, but were still jet lagged. Plus, my daughter was less than 2 months old.
- Sing Christmas carols door to door: Or like some friends in Colorado, while sitting in the back of a truck.
- Enter something into a state fair: Whether it be a drawing, a poem, or a vegetable they grew.
- Vote right after they turn 18: And not via absentee ballot.
- Learn, through first hand experience, what their favorite style of BBQ is: I still haven’t figured this one out.
- Avoid Black Friday sales: If I had the choice, I’d want them to avoid the sales all together. This might upset my mom.
- Sleep outside, in the backyard: Not possible on our tiny patio now.
- Go tailgating: And even though I’m not an alum, and this would surprise many of my friends, preferably at the University of Florida.
- Take a kid-friendly class at Home Depot: Learn how to do something with their hands.
- Watch a film at a movie theater: Theaters here are just different than in the US and I want them to experience going to the movies with a group of friends.
- Spend the 4th of July with family and friends, great BBQ, fireworks and wearing Red, White, and Blue.
Happy Independence Day!
Struggling with a little bit of homesickness today, naturally. This post brought tears to my eyes. I look forward to doing so much of this with my kids someday, too. For now, Europe beckons! Thanks for sharing this today. Enjoy your celebration tomorrow! We’re celebrating with another expat on Saturday.
Yes, Europe does beckon! I grant myself the right to homesickness whenever it strikes, but usually on Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and when I watch certain TV shows and movies.
Have a great July 4th on the 6th! It really is nice to be able to have friends nearby to celebrate with, even if belated.
I used to live on Oahu, Hawaii and not all the waves all around the island are crazy ones. You can surf near Ewa for beginners.
Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose
Aw, I love this! I think your kids will get to do many of these over their lives, I have a feeling you will make sure of it 🙂 And come visit us, we will show you Stone Mountain (and more!). Happy Fourth, have fun this weekend!
Lovely post, Ann! I think those of us who have never been expats think that it is such an incredible life to be living in another country but forget that it means missing out on events at home as well. I hope you have a wonderful celebration of the 4th on the 5th!!
Great post, Ann. You reminded me of all the things I sometimes take for granted. Like the fireworks and M & M Blizzard from DQ! I hope your celebration with your friends is wonderful!
Thanks everyone! The internet makes being away a tiny bit easier, but in other ways it’s a huge reminder of what we’re missing. And I keep a list (I like lists) of things I want to do when I go to the states. Raiding the dollar bins at target usually ranks high.
aaamen! i would LOVE to raise my kids overseas but there are certain things that i want them to experience in the country that i grew up, some things you just can’t replicate overseas! thanks so much for linking up with us!
Add S’More’s to your camping/bonfire activities. 🙂 We found marshmallows in the store the other day with pictures of s’mores on them and even descriptions on the back of the bag, but I have yet to find Graham Crackers in Germany, so it is all just a big tease.
These are all great ideas! We’ve only been here for a year now and I want all of these experiences in my life, too! 🙂
Andrew – you are so correct! How could I forget to specify s’mores. I’m glad you mentioned those before our next trip to the US because we WILL have some, at a camp fire, with real graham crackers, hershey bars, and marshmallows.
Katie – Now that you mention it, a lot of those experiences are things I want more of in my life, too!
No mention of a trip to Bourbon street?? 😉
I like #34. Volunteering is big in the Netherlands, but wasn’t such a big deal in the places I lived in the US…except for socialites. I hope your kids find fulfillment from volunteering!
You know, I couldn’t think of how I wanted to approach New Orleans on this list. I complicated so much in my mind, that I just left it off. I should have just stuck with the basics: Bourbon Street/Jackson Square/Cafe Du Monde. I was thinking about the ghost tours there (one of the best I’ve ever been to and I’ve been to a lot) and Mardi Gras (that while there is a child-friendly component, it’s not the first thing people think of) and I even thought of going there during the Sugar Bowl.
Then I realized that New Orleans, while I don’t mind experiencing it with them, is something I want them to experience when they’re in college – like I did.
That’s funny about volunteering though. It was big amongst my group of friends in the US, but my friends here don’t view it in a positive light.
Hey, Ann! Greetings from Boston! I just stumbled on this and really enjoyed your list. It’s really extensive and gives good insight into not only American destinations, but American culture too (nicely condensed)…Since moving back to the US I’ve really enjoyed a couple things on the list- Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC is great. And chowing on chowda and lobster rolls in New England is just one of the things you do on occasion around here :)…Will you be at TBEX in Athens this year? 🙂