Continuing my top 10 sights seen in 2018, we will go into the desert, cool off at an aquarium, and end at an open-air museum.
6. Khuri Dessert, India
The kids’ favorite stop in India was in the Khuri Dessert. After a very long drive from Bikaner, we arrived just in time to take a sunset camel tour through the desert.
Getting on and off a camel is a bit rough, but the delight of the rest of the experience make it worth the trouble.
Once we got to the sunset spot, Jeremy and I (and the camels) enjoyed the view:
While the boys frolicked in the sand dunes:
Add in an evening of delicious food, live music, and a dance performance, followed by glamping in a Swiss tent, and you have a wonderful experience!
7. Death Valley, California
Sand dunes aren’t only in India; if you live in the United States, you can stay much closer to home and visit Death Valley! Entering from the west, one of the first stops you will want to make is at the sand dunes. Just make sure that if you do any hiking, bring plenty of water and don’t go too far. It is easy to misjudge distances, or worse get turned around. The heat can kill quickly!
From here, we usually continue through Furnace Springs, making a stop at the visitor’s center. If the Borax Museum is open again, it used to make a really good stop as well.
The next highlight is Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. From a distance, it looks like a gigantic lake, but no, it is dried salt. Can you imagine the disappointment the pioneers must have had when they made this mistake? No wonder this park has its name, definitely a deadly mistake. The boys tried a little of the salt found it fascinating that it actually tasted like…salt.
Doubling back, we usually make a quick stop at the Devil’s Golf Course, then take a detour along Artist’s Drive. If you need gas or want a cleaner bathroom, stop back by the Visitor’s Center, then continue to either Dante’s View and/or Zabriskie Point. We have always wanted to do a little hiking around Zabriskie Point, but by putting this at the end, we are usually too hot and are to leave. Coming in the winter would make hiking a lot easier.
Dante’s View is a bit steep, so make sure your car is in good condition. On one trip our radiator decided to start leaking at the top. We had plenty of water in the car, but it was a bit tense until we made it to civilization.
From here, you can either continue to Las Vegas, explore the park more, or head elsewhere! Jeremy wasn’t able to join us on our May trip to Death Valley so he decided to visit on his own in October, combining it with Joshua Tree National Park and Yosemite.
8. Dead Sea, Israel
Wow! For someone who doesn’t like hot weather, there are a lot of hot places on my top ten list. Odd. Anyway, Death Valley is the lowest point in North America, but the Dead Sea is the lowest point in the world!
Summer temperatures are ridiculously hot, but the water feels nice. We did burn the bottoms of our feet getting in, so make sure you bring some flip-flops or leave your shoes as close to the shore as possible.
On the other hand, floating like a cork is really nice. Simply pretend you are sitting in a chair, lean back, and you will have instant bliss. Who knew that it was possible to stick both your hands and feet out of the water effortlessly while floating?
One of the best parts of visiting the Dead Sea is the mud. Rather than going to an expensive spa, simply grab some mud off the bottom of the sea and rub it all over your body. Such a wonderful feeling!
Just don’t get the water in your eyes, or you may have a serious medical emergency. Cuts and scrapes are also a problem. Jeremy was quite uncomfortable in the water, and a beach chair in 108°F weather wasn’t any better, so we ended up leaving much earlier than the boys and I had hoped.
9. Osaka Aquarium, Osaka, Japan
I love aquariums! And the Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium didn’t disappoint. The layout is a spiral that takes you deeper and deeper into the ocean. While the whale sharks swim freely, at each level, you experience a whole new ecosystem!
Other animals, including the ring seal, are pretty cool too. And the kids were delighted with shark petting! Umm, those looked a little large, so hopefully they were well fed.
10. Open-Air Museum, Kiev, Ukraine
In Kiev, we decided to stop by the Pirogovo Open-Air Museum. Delightful! Basically, it is a collection of houses, gardens, and more, from various locations and time periods around Ukraine.
If I wouldn’t have been in a long skirt, we probably would have rented some bikes and explored that way. But, it was still fun on foot. In addition to houses, there were churches, other town buildings.
We arrived just after lunch, which was a mistake. There was a wonderful market filled with delightful sausages, veggies, breads, and treats. There were so many things I wanted to try, but alas, I was way too full.
Another fascinating museum in Kiev is the Chernobyl Museum. Definitely a different tone than the open-air museum, but well worth an hour or so of your time. Some people visit the actual Chernobyl disaster site as a day trip (it’s only about 100 miles away, a little uncomfortably close actually), but that’s definitely not something you can do with children.