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RISMEDIA, July 9, 2010—(MCT)—Now that Independence Day has come and gone, a classic American vacation can help your family continue to celebrate our nation’s heritage. Here are a few ideas to get your started:

1. Take a road trip
A concept often parodied on television and in the movies, the family road trip continues to be a source of happy memories and fun. Play games, sing songs and tell stories along the way. The American Automobile Association provides information on road conditions, weather, deals, discounts and gas prices. It can also help with roadside assistance, travel planning and maps.

2. Make your way to the mountains
Breathe the pine-scented air. Raft the rivers. Wonder at the wildlife or travel by horseback into the backcountry. A visit to a mountain destination such as Jackson, Wyo., will offer your family the best of the great outdoors paired with a glimpse into our Western heritage.

3. Head to the beach
You may have a family favorite, or get out of the house and build sand castles on the beach nearest home. However, if you’re looking for a new sandy spot, consider the list created by Stephen P. Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research. For the last 20 years, “Dr. Beach” has used 50 criteria, including water, sand quality, safety and environmental management to rank seaside playgrounds. The 2010 list includes beaches in New York, Florida, California, Hawaii and North Carolina.

4. Relax at the lake
With more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is a family favorite. In addition to boating, swimming, fishing and a wide range of water sports, generations of lake lovers enjoy hiking in the nearby state park, biking, miniature golf and water parks as well as access to restaurants, music and other kid-friendly attractions.

5. Visit a national park
Celebrate our freedom and the beauty of our land within one of the nation’s 392 national parks. With so many historical and natural wonders to discover, consider heading to the National Park Service’s webpage, designed to help regular and first-time visitors plan a meaningful trip. There, you can research park activities as well as camping, backcountry, lodging and educational options. Parks offer special events, institutes and field schools as well as volunteer opportunities.

(c) 2010, The Dallas Morning News.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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