Cheung Sha Beach, Hong Kong

Photo Credit: Jenny Lin / News TMOM

Summer vacation. The words carry both fear and excitement. Fear by parents of how they are going to entertain the kids or plan some family fun. Excitement by all over the time to play and travel. Living in China for the past few years, we spent most summers visiting the grandparents and have some great memories. We have great memories too of other summer vacations and short getaways.

Lake Erie Shores and Islands

Lake Erie was a kid-free anniversary trip but I plan to return with them. Cedar Point will be on the list. We may even consider camping. But we thoroughly enjoyed our stay down the road from Sandusky and taking a slow cruise to Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay. Anywhere near water, and especially islands gets my vote!

Hong Kong’s Lantau Island

The fact that Lantau makes the list despite sunburns (yes, we did lather up!) and my youngest getting a heat blister on his tongue says something about the joys of Hong Kong. We particularly loved Cheung Sha beach, which is generally blissfully peaceful and has a variety of restaurants to choose from (we recommend our friend’s Lantana Italian restaurant of course). It can be literally painfully hot so I also recommend the air-conditioned ferries from Mui Wo to air-conditioned places like the mall at Central.

Beidaihe Beach, China

If you find yourself in the Beijing area and in need of a beach vacation, Beidaihe is the place to go. We took our then 3-year-old twins for a weekend getaway and in off-season it was extremely peaceful and affordable. It is the summer resort of government leaders (and often employees) and there are only two or three hotels that take foreign visitors. Nevertheless, it is a small area that is easy to walk around and easy to find good seafood and beaches.

Alabama’s Gulf Shores

Many of my great summer vacations have been when visiting my parents in the different locales where they were living. The nearest beaches to Mobile, Gulf Shores, are a great day getaway. The main Gulf Shores beach is easy to find and parking fairly straightforward and there are usually plenty of open spaces to park yours stuff and your family.

San Antonio, Texas

No real beach in San Antonio but there is a Riverwalk and plenty of summer fun that is great for the kids. The couple of summers that my parents were here were great. Splashtown is an affordable must for water play. Of course most attractions along the Riverwalk and Alamo area, including Ripley’s and Guinness, is worth seeing and in a compact area. We stayed a couple nights at the Westin Riverwalk.

Chicago’s Lake Michigan

We stumbled upon Lake Michigan while on a day trip from Indianapolis to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago. There is a great stretch right near Chinatown that has free parking and a huge playground next to, of course, a beach area.