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24 Family Vacation Ideas

By  Lynn O'Rourke Hayes   

ftflipflopsts 3-11-2011 4-58-21 pm

Looking for family vacation ideas?

 Look no further. Consider these two dozen possibilities

 1.Brac Reef, Cayman Brac. From this small, family-friendly island, families can enjoy a dive vacation that includes exploring the waters around Cayman Brac as well as the Russian Frigate and the Bloody Bay Wall near Little Cayman Island. The on-site dive shop provides personalized attention to the soon-to-be certified as well as the seasoned diver. The all inclusive, beach front resort also offers free bike rentals to explore the island, spa services and volley ball. Ask about special packages for families. Contact: 1-800-594-0843; www.BracReef.com.

2. Lake Powell. Page, AZ. Spectacular red-hued rock formations rise from water’s edge. Sunny days fade into star-filled nights on this vast blue lake created when the Glen Canyon Dam stopped the waters of the mighty Colorado River.  A houseboat holiday on Lake Powell promises adventure, unparalleled beauty and a host of opportunities for on shore hiking, rock climbing and exploring.  With more than 2,000 miles of shoreline and scores of inlets and cozy coves, family members of all ages will depart with memories to last a lifetime. Contact: 1 (888) 896-3829; www.pagelakepowelltourism.com; For boating information; www.antelopepointlakepowell.com.

3.Whistler Blackcomb. Whistler, BC, CA.  Enjoy a high altitude holiday with the kids in this pristine mountain enclave where kids ski free throughout the month of March.  Book by January 31, 2012 and travel between March 1 -31, 2012 and enjoy more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, plus free lodging, lift tickets, rentals and airport transfers for the kids. The year-round family-friendly resort offers a full range of summer fun as well as  options for winter sports enthusiasts of all abilities. Enjoy your time on and off the slopes where ice skating, tubing and dog sledding will keep everyone happy. Contact: www.enjoywhistler.com/kidsFreeinWhistler.php

4. “Learn a Snow Sport “ in Pennsylvania and 36 other states across the country.  A slew of educational activities, tips and discounts are available, designed to encourage more families to head outside for winter fun. For example, until the end of the month, 22 members of  the Pennsyvania Ski Area Association will provide  further discounts on midweek “Learn A Snow Sport” packages that include  special rates for first ski lessons, rentals, and lift tickets.  Contact: www.SkiandSnowboardMonth.org; www.skipa.com.

 5. Book a packaged trip. The cost of flying and hotel stays is forecasted to rise as much as five percent in 2012.   Families can compensate for the expected increases by choosing a travel package that combines rooms, flights and even car rentals. Taking advantage of negotiated and bundled rates can make a trip to your chosen destination more affordable and simpler to book. Contact: www.Expedia.com; www.Travelocity.com; www.Travelzoo.com.

 6. Take a cruise.  By offering sporting activities, food choices, original entertainment, and shore excursions designed for every member of the family, cruise lines are going out of their way to lure families aboard their sea-faring vessels. From rock walls and wave pools to teen night clubs and giant movie screens, kids and their parents will find plenty to engage the a cruise.  Newer ships provide cabin configurations that include room for families of six or more via family suites, sleeping alcoves, fold-outs and adjoining rooms. Contact: www.CruiseCompete.com.

7. Travel to learn.  More families are viewing their time away together as a chance to learn about themselves, other cultures and the changing nature of our global society. Consider a language immersion program, a cultural exchange or volunteer vacation. Learn about climate change in the far corners of the earth or ancient rituals in the deep riches of the South American jungles. Contact: Contact: www.crossculturalsolutions.org; www.spanishcontact.com; www.earthwatch.org.

8. Train Travel.  Ride the rails with the kids and enjoy the scenery and a mode of transportation that recalls days gone by. From Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express  to Amtrak’s landscape-rich California Zephyr, travel by train allows the whole family to sit back, relax, unwind, and enjoy compelling vistas without the worries of traffic jams, driver fatigue, fast food breaks or concern about road conditions.  Contact: www.Amtrak.com; www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/

9. African Skies. Check into Little Kulala, a desert eco-retreat within southern Africa’s Kulala Wilderness Reserve. Hop aboard a Land Rover to scope out springbok, ostrich and oryx or float above the dramatic landscape in a hot air balloon.   Visit the world’s tallest dunes amid Namibia’s famed “sand sea”.  Then fall asleep on your rooftop Sky Bed and enjoy a late night show where shooting stars and the Milky Way serve as headliners. Contact: www.wilderness-safaris.com/safaris/index.jsp; www.TravelBeyond.com.

10. Pagett Farm. ME  Your kids can pal around with the pigs, goats, chickens and ducks and learn about organic farming. Gather the family to help out with the chores on this 63 acre spread or simply relax and enjoy the natural environment. Check out the starry night sky before falling asleep inside the luxe platform tents decked out with braided rugs and colorful quilts.  Consider a visit to nearby lakes for kayaking, swimming or canoeing. Acadia National Park is within an hour and a half drive. Contact: www.PagettFarm.com

11. Winter Star Party. West Summerland Key, FL.   Every February, during the new moon week, amateur astronomers gather in the Florida Keys for six days to learn from guest speakers, observe an unobstructed clear night sky and share information with other star enthusiasts.  Hosted by the Southern Cross Astronomical Society (SCAS), Inc., the Stellar Star Party also includes a Kids Kamp. Next year’s event will take place February 20 – 26, 2012. Contact: 1-800-FLA-KEYS;  www.fla-keys.com ;www.scas.org.

12. Aspen Mountain. Aspen, CO.   The Type A members of your family will be eager to participate in the mountain’s new First Tracks Breakfast program.  Each Wednesday, 80 lucky guests join mountain guides and employees  to fuel up for the morning and share tips and tactics for taking on the slopes.  Then it’s off to make revel in those first tracks. On Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays perfect your poses atop the mountain during complimentary yoga classes held at high altitude. Contact:  970-429-6971; www.AspenSnowmass.com.

13. Arizona Nights. In 2001, the City of Flagstaff, in Northern Arizona, was designated the world’s first “International Dark-Sky City” by the International Dark-Sky Association.  Expect stellar stargazing as well as the chance to tour the Lowell Observatory. You’ll see the telescope where planet Pluto was discovered in the 1930′s and look through the century-old Clark telescope. Further south, check into the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale where you’ll find high powered telescopes in your room and constellation charts on your pillow at turndown. Opt in for complimentary Friday evening stargazing with a local astronomer or a Celestial Picnic accompanied by a pro. Contact: www.lowell.eduwww.FlagstaffArizona.com; www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale/

14. Red Rock Country. By night, the dark skies of Utah provide ample opportunity for magnificent stargazing. Join astronomer Alex Ludwig atop a mesa to learn about star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. He will explain how Native Americans teach their children about the constellations, lancing the quiet night with stories that will entrance young and old. By day, a slew of parks, canyons and rivers provide outdoor adventure opportunities. Contact: 435-210-0066; www.moab-astronomy.com; www.discovermoab.com/

15. Northern Lights From Norway. Because of an increase in solar flares, NASA is predicting Northern Lights activity will be stronger this winter than any time in the last 50 years. Therefore cruising Norway’s coast high above the Arctic Circle could provide family travelers with the opportunity to experience the aurora borealis in a rare and extraordinary way. In addition to visiting ports that provide a glimpse into winter life in Norway, passengers will also be privy to lectures regarding the Northern lights as well as local culture and history. Contact: www.VisitNorway.com; www.hurtigruten.com.

 16. Embrace winter sports. Perhaps this is the year to push beyond the local sledding hill and expand your winter sports experiences. Lace up the skates, strap on the snowshoes, learn how mushers round up their sled dogs or consider an ice climb. Go downhill, cross-country, into the back-country and then warm up in a steaming hot spring. Skate ski to dinner served in a yurt or ride aboard a horse-drawn sleigh headed to cozy cabin where you and your family can savor supper served fireside. Contact: www.BigSky.com; www.SunValley.com.

 17. China Kung Fu Adventure.  Explore the cultural wealth of China with your clan during this 14- day journey. Learn the art of Kung Fu from a student monk, cook with a local family, check out the skills of Shanghei acrobats, play badminton in the Olympic complex and discuss ancient customs with ethnic villagers.  Stay in family-friendly accommodations that make dining, napping and planning possible. Designed for children six and older, this adventure creates a “mobile classroom” through which families can immerse themselves in the history and culture of this dynamic country. Contact: 1-888-902-8808; www.wildchina.com/china-immersion-experiences/overview/cultural-family-vacation-beijing-henan-xian-yunnan-shanghai

 18. The Civil Rights Trail. The battle for civil rights and justice was fought throughout the South during the 1950s and 60s. Today, families can learn more about the era through the Alabama museums and programs that now share stories  illuminating the early struggles.  Important stops include the Civil Rights Memorial Center, Rosa Parks Library and Museum, and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where the Montgomery Bus Boycott was planned and Dr. Martin Luther King once served as pastor.  A free, full-color, downloadable brochure will help with planning. Contact: www.800alabama.com/activities/tours-and-trails/alabama-civil-rights-museum-trail/; www.nps.gov/semo/index.htm.

 19. Save The Turtles. Families can help preserve Olive Sea Turtles by gathering eggs on the beach in Mazatlan, MX and releasing the tiny hatchlings back to the sea. Learn how the effort, coordinated by Estrella del Mar’s Turtle Sanctuary and Preserve, helps save more than 50,000 of these sea creatures each year.  This year’s Sea Turtle package, offered by Las Villas Hotel and Spa, includes airport transfers, a tour of the property and preserve as well as other amenities. Contact: Contact: 877-629-2852; www.mazatlanhotellasvillas.com.

 20. Archeological Adventure. In Southwestern Colorado, visit the  largest archaeological preserve in the United States and learn about the Ancestral Puebloans who made their home on Mesa Verde from 500 AD until 1300 AD.  Choose a tour of this World Heritage Site that best serves your family’s interests and abilities, from a collection that offers insight into the life, culture and history of these ancient people. Explore cliff dwellings and mesa-top developments and discuss what life might have been like for families in this environment. Later, sample foods that sustained the Puebloans, including corn, squash and beans, in the Metate Room restaurant. Contact: 800-449-2288; www.visitmesaverde.com.

21. Skyline Eco-Adventures. Maui, Hawaii. The fun begins when you join your guides in an outdoor vehicle and travel to the West Maui Mountains. Gear up and cruise through the pristine environment via eight different zip lines. Catch Pacific Ocean views in the distance and mountain streams, waterfalls and lush valleys below.  The company opened the country’s first zip line here in 2002 and now operates two zip line adventures in Maui and one in Pigeon Forge, TN.  Riders must be 10 years or older and weigh between 80 and 260 lbs. Contact: 808-878-8400; www.zipline.com.

 22. A Culinary Calling. Practice your language skills and learn from the pros at the Santa Fe Cooking School when you and your family take part in the Muy Subrosa (  “very tasty” in Spanish ) two night experience at this centrally located Santa Fe inn. The package includes a cooking demonstration, paired with the opportunity to taste other local cuisine while exploring this enchanting and historic town. Contact: 888-984-2121;www.innonthealameda.com.

23. See Mount Rushmore, SD – Tucked within the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is among the more famous monuments in the country. The whole family will enjoy seeing the faces of four of the most important presidents -George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln -ever to hold the office, carved into rock for the ages. Hiking, biking, wildlife and other tourist sites are nearby. Contact: www.www.nps.gov/moru/; 1 (800) 732-5682. 

 24. Weatherbury Farm. PA. Give your kids the chance to hand feed ( from a bottle ) baby lambs and toss grain to the free ranging chickens. By joining in these morning chores and learning about organic farming, they can earn the “Official Weatherby Farm Kid” designation. Discover how the owners of this 100-acre, idyllic spot near Pittsburg, focus on using integrated techniques to manage their sustainable farming operation. You’ll stay in historic buildings and of course, dine on farm-fresh taste treats. Contact: www.WeatherburyFarm.com.

 

 

 

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