Michelle Obama and her daughters spent Presidents Day weekend skiing in Aspen, the winter playground of choice for the (almost always) rich and (sometimes) famous.
There's no denying the Obamas have excellent taste when it comes to trip destinations: Recent vacations have been spent in a 6,000-square-foot "luxury" house on Kailua Beach, Hawaii, and on a 28-acre estate with private beach access in Martha's Vineyard, off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. It's not exactly the style of travel available to most folks.
To be fair, the Obamas did make a stop on the Gulf Coast on their way to the Vineyard in the summer of 2010 after the BP oil spill. Many, however, criticized the weekend trip as an obligatory stop rather than a true vacation. The Obamas had encouraged the rest of America to vacation in the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon accident, even as they made their own plans to vacation in the Northeast.
So if Aspen, Hawaii and the Vineyard might be more for the 1 percent, it raises a question: Where does the other 99 percent go for its R&R? There are plenty of far more affordable destinations that are great fun without the glitz and glamour (and sometimes attitude). Below are five fun destinations the Obamas may want to consider for their next trip:
Great Wolf Lodge, various locations: It's a kid's dream come true: a giant indoor water park, heated to 84 degrees. The best part? You don't even have to leave the building to get from your hotel room to the water park. With 10 locations around the U.S. and one in Canada, there's likely a Great Wolf Lodge within driving distance of home. In case the Obamas are interested, the closest location is in Williamsburg, Va., about a three-hour drive from D.C.
Hersheypark, Hershey, Pa.: It's not exactly in line with the first lady's message on healthy eating, but hey, everything in moderation, right? Although it's hard to practice self-control on a visit to the rides and attractions at Hersheypark because chocolate is found at every turn, from your pillowcase to the spa treatments to the beer served. From campgrounds to an upscale resort, there's lodging choices for most budgets.
LegoLand, California and Florida: With two locations – the original in Carlsbad, Calif., and a brand-new park in Winter Haven, Fla. – 99 percenters from either coast can get to LegoLand. Entire villages made from Legos are the backdrop to this theme park. Coasters, water rides, toddler play areas and other attractions are found in both locations.
Mall of America, Bloomington, Minn.: The 1 percent shops on New York City's Madison Avenue. The rest of the country shops at the Mall of America, a mall so big it can fit seven Yankee Stadiums inside. This is not a place for casual shopping, far from it. The 35- to 40-million visitors who travel to the Mall of America often spend days or even a week there to visit the 400 stores, aquarium, Nickelodeon-themed amusement park, 14 theaters and 50 restaurants.
South of the Border, Dillon, S.C.: It's more of an attraction than a true vacation destination, but what an attraction it is. A stop at South of the Border, located just inside South Carolina, is pretty much obligatory on any road trip to the Southeast. Named one of "the Kitschiest Roadside Attractions" by Travel and Leisure magazine, it has a reptile lagoon, rides for the kids, mini golf and an observation tower. If you're in the market for fireworks, this is the place to buy them.
Readers: Tell us in the comments section below if the Obamas should take their next vacation at one of these destinations. If not, where should they go? Where are your travels taking you in 2012?