School is almost out and time is nearing for vacation. Taking trips together recharges the family’s batteries and strengthens the relationship. Here are my top 10 picks for family fun!
1. London. This is an easy place to navigate with an extensive underground and bus system. There are great travel deals on airline tickets and packaged tours to this exciting destination. Famous sites, such as The Tower of London, Big Ben and Parliament are steeped in history and the subject of nursery rhymes. Relive Rolling Stone’s lyrics by walking around London, “She gets her kicks in Stepney, not in Knightsbridge anymore.” London is walkable city with attractions close together. Must see museums include Madame Tussaud’s, the Natural History Museum and the gruesome London Dungeon. Huge city parks are just the ticket to release pent up kid energy or take a walk in nature. It is easy to buy baby supplies and I was able to pack lightly.
2. Anywhere there is a beach. We stayed at the Outer banks, North Carolina with a baby who happily played in the sand. My mother took me every summer to the Jersey Shore which had fun boardwalks and great beaches. Friends in Los Angeles sail to Catalina Island with their sons and enjoy the laid back atmosphere. My young sons and I stayed in St. Thomas and Nevis and liked the turquoise water. Farther afield is Fiji which has child-friendly hotels and beaches. The activities are geared towards families whether in the water or taking a guided nature walk.
3. Alaska. My sons and I went twice on Holland America cruises around Alaska. The ships dock a short distance from town or nature trails which makes it easy to get around if one is in a stroller. My sons learned a lot about wildlife, nature and Native American culture. They heard about history, including the Gold Rush and got to walk inside a famous bordello (their highlight).
4. Dude Ranches. Friends have enjoyed hours of horseback riding and hiking into wilderness on these ranch vacations. There are campfires with sing-a-longs and roasted marshmallows. One can be close to nature without camping.
5. The American West. There is great diversity whether touring a ghost town or the rock formations in Monument Valley, Utah. The Grand Canyon is breathtaking looking down from a rim or white water rafting on the Colorado River. Arizona has the Sonoran Desert with large cacti and desert flowers.
6. Ski Vacation in the West. Go for the powdery ski slopes, great children’s ski programs and the sunny skies. My favorite place is Jackson Hole for fantastic ski trails and white water rafting in the summer. One time I went there was for spring break in college and the nightlife at the Cowboy Bar was lively. Yellowstone Park is nearby and another place that kids of all ages will appreciate.
7. Costa Rica is relatively nearby and has attractions to please all ages. My son celebrated his third birthday there and remembers the monkeys and birds in the rain forest. We stayed in San Juan and did short day trips with youngsters. There is a butterfly farm and gold museum in the city. Friends enjoyed the beach life in Costa Rica and did zip lining in the canopy with their teens.
8. Greece and Turkey are friendly countries immersed in history. I bought a child’s guide to mythology, gods and goddesses which enriched my sons’ experience with their surroundings. They happily trotted through ruins and went on treasure hunts in souks (market places). The people are gracious and welcoming to children. My sons like the food, music and relaxed approach to life. Walking around the Parthenon or exploring the Blue Mosque in Istanbul have fuelled their interest in world history, currents events and other cultures.
9. An American or European river cruise. Friends have taken the cruise on American waterways in a riverboat reminiscent of Mark Twain’s period and thoroughly enjoyed it. My sons and I have taken European ones, sailing by enticing castles on the Rhine. River boats dock right in town – so antsy teens can go exploring and find their way back easily. We enjoyed late night markets in France with children on carousals and the bustling activity when the streets would have been deserted at that time in the States.
10. Florida has so much to offer with theme parks and white sand beaches. Disneyworld and Universal studios can please three generations of family members. I like Tarpon Springs for its beach and Greek community with lively music and food. There are swamps, nature preserves and opportunities to get near marine life. Feel like you are a world away from home by driving down to the Florida Keyes. Enjoy the relaxed lifestyle and Hemingway’s stomping ground.
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