Here are five reasons why gathering the clan matters. (And here's hoping you can make it happen sooner rather than later:)
Today’s families are spread far and wide.
And during these challenging times it has been more difficult than ever for families to maintain and nurture family bonds. When the time is right we'll all look forward to spending relaxed, quality time with extended family. We know that time together enables the generations to gain important insights into family history.
When it is once again possible, consider a family friendly beach resort in the Caribbean or in Hawaii where everyone can meet on the sand or by the pool for stories and water sports.
Contact: www.cheapcaribbean.com; www.GoHawaii.com
Sharing resources has rewards.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles and godparents have the opportunity to bond with the next generation while giving weary parents a break and a chance to rekindle their relationship.
More hotel companies are reaching out to families of all compositions to help them plan a meaningful holiday. Preferred Hotels launched a website to help families find the right destination and activities.
The natural cure.
Plan a multigenerational trip around camping, hiking, biking or fishing. Unplug from technology and tune in to the sounds of nature. Encourage the experienced to share outdoor skills that will serve youngsters for a lifetime. Any of nearly 400 national parks would serve as a grand classroom.
Active children can be great motivators for aging relatives.
Plan a vacation that enables young people to help their less agile relatives get moving.
Many adventure-travel companies specialize in making sure every member of the family receives the right dose of adrenaline from the day’s activity. Ready, set, go!
Did a member of your family serve in the military or provide some kind of public service? Honor their commitment by making a family visit to a memorial, battlefield, museum or other historical site that might encourage the sharing of his or her individual experience.
Exploring our nation’s capital together will provide an interesting context for any personal stories that might unfold.
Check out our Grandparent Travel Collection for more ideas on how and where to
travel with the grandkids!
Get close to creatures of the sea for a wild family adventure. Here are four ideas to consider:
1. Swim With Whale Sharks.
Swimming with the largest fish in the sea is a thrill worth seeking. Whale sharks are massive, reaching lengths of 40 feet and 15 tons. Despite their imposing presence, the gentle creatures peacefully share the warm seas with visitors who arrive via boat from the shores of nearby Cancun. Two at a time, along with a guide, you’ll don a life jacket or wet suit and fins, before jumping in for a swim with these plankton slurping vegetarians. No touching is allowed (the mega-fish are considered a “vulnerable species”) but you can swim alongside as they thrust forward their super-sized square jaw and begin filtering everything in their path like a water-born vacuum cleaner.
Contact: www.Cancun.travel; www. solobuceo.com.
2. Swim with Stingrays.
Wade into the warm Caribbean Sea at the Stingray City Sandbar for your family’s chance to pet the dozens of sea creatures who visit the area for a little love and a few tasty treats. Today tour operators will assist in your introduction to the Southern stingray, taking over for the fishermen who originally attracted the rays to the area by cleaning fish and tossing the remnants into the water. Soon the stingrays associated the sound of boat motors with breakfast. For a more pleasurable experience, avoid visiting when cruise ships are in port.
3. Alaska up close.
Kayak among whales, sea lions and past puffins when you explore Alaska with Inner Sea Discoveries and American Safari Cruises. With only 22 to 86 guests on board on their well-planned vessels, you’ll wind your way into narrow passages and into wilderness areas that the bigger ships cannot access. The adventuresome in your clan can don a dry suit and use a Stand Up Paddleboard to get even closer to Alaska’s extraordinary wild riches.
Contact: 888-862-8881; www.InnerSeaDiscoveries.com
4. Adventures with alligators.
No one wants to get too close to an alligator. But at this park, home to more than 800 gators ranging in size from eight inch babies to 15 foot, one thousand pound adults, you’ll learn about the ways of these fierce creatures, from a safe distance. As you wander through natural swamps and marshes you’ll also encounter turtles, lizards, giant frogs and exotic birds. Lectures and live shows add to the experience.
Contact: 843-361-0789; www.alligatoradventure.com/
Nothing says summer like ice cream.
And perhaps that’s why an entire month is dedicated to savoring its sweetness.
Thanks to celebrity chef Todd English you and your family can create classic vanilla ice cream at home ( Think tasty staycation! ). Check out the recipe lifted from his most recent cookbook, Cooking in Everyday English!
Glacier National Park.
It’s a must see: stunning vistas, more than 200 lakes, 175 named mountains and 40 glaciers, tucked within one million acres of natural beauty. That’s Glacier National Park.
Among my favorite visits was a multi-generational outing - my Dad, my son and my niece and it was a great destination for all of us.
Established in 1910, by an act of Congress, this extraordinary recreational playground is also home to more than 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
With so much to see, if you go, it is important to plan in advance. (And rooms book well in advance.)
Here are a few suggestions to jump start your visit:
Ride the Red Bus.
The historic red buses are a symbol of another age, providing a commanding overview of the park’s magnificent history and scenery. The vintage vehicle carries 17 passengers. Tours range from three hours to a full day. Children under 12 are half price.
Contact: Glacier Park, Inc. ; www.GlacierParkInc.com; 406.892.2525.
Explore on foot.
With more than 800 miles of maintained hiking trails, there are plenty of opportunities for families to learn about the flora and fauna. A favorite among families, we enjoyed the beauty of the Avalanche Lake trail. Within four miles round trip, and a gain of just 500 feet in elevation, trekkers will enjoy a rich forest environment, tumbling waterfalls and a majestic lake with more waterfalls at the turnaround point. Take a picnic and enjoy. Easily accessible, the trailhead is five miles beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge.
Scenic Boat Tours.
Step aboard historic boats and glide across the pristine alpine lakes nestled amid majestic peaks. Enjoy the colorful commentary provided by the skilled crew. Available from four locations. Fares under $20. Children under four are free. Children 4-12 are half price.
Contact: www.GlacierParkBoats.com; (406) 257-2426.
Float the River.
Venture down the wild and scenic middle and north forks of the Flathead River with professional guides who will share their knowledge of the river. Half and full day scenic floats or whitewater adventures. Paddle a raft or up the adventure quotient in an inflatable kayak.
Don't Miss Many Glacier
Considered by many as the heart of the park, the Many Glacier region is stunningly beautiful. Expect sparkling lakes, abundant wildlife, great hiking and a bounty of nature-based options. For great views (like the one above) stay at the historic Many Glacier Lodge.
Glacier Outdoor Center’s log cabins provide a comfortable and well-located retreat just outside the gates at West Glacier. One and two bedroom cabins sleep from six to fourteen people. Enjoy full kitchens, covered decks, a gas grill and full guide services on site.
Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1(800) 235-6781.
For additional information about Glacier National Park contact: www.nps.gov/Glac; 1 (406) 888-7800.
Stand Up Paddle surfing (SUP) is considered an ancient form of surfing, traced to early days in Polynesia. More recently, in the 1940s, surf instructors on Waikiki beach in Hawaii are said to have used the skill to allow them a better view of their students. Today, families can indulge in the sport at many resorts and recreation areas.
Here are five to consider:
Summer is a time for exploration.
Check out these five places to uncover grand, new adventures:
1 Learn about life in Cuba.
With a strong focus on lifelong learning, Road Scholar educational adventures provide multigenerational travel opportunities in 50 states and 150 countries around the world. Now, you can travel to Cuba, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet with local community leaders, artists and local families to discuss the changes under way. Crafted for children 9 and older, and their adult family members, you’ll also visit local landmarks and sample local dance, music and cuisine.
Contact: 1-800-454-5768; www.roadscholar.org
2 Head south to ski.
Consider trading ho-hum summer heat for the thrill of South American high country. From June through October, you can access premier powder in Chile and Argentina. The pros from U.S.-based Powder Quest can help you choose from snow ski tours, instruction-based outings and snowboard adventures in pristine mountain environments. There are also cat-skiing and heli-skiing options to provide a dual altitude and adrenaline fix.
Contact: 1-888-565-7158; www.powderquest.com
3 Dive the Great Blue Hole, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Scuba enthusiasts are eager to dive this large submarine sinkhole once explored by Jacques Cousteau. Located near the center of Lighthouse Reef, the Great Blue Hole is part of the large Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage site.
Experienced divers have the opportunity to see remarkable limestone formations as well as several species of shark in the crystal waters. The dive destination is 60 miles from Ambergris Caye; working with an experienced and reputable outfitter is essential. Las Terrazas Resort is a family-friendly condo-style hotel adjacent to the White Sands Dive Shop, where Professional Association of Diving Instructors-certified owner Elbert Greer will ensure your dive experience is top-notch.
4 Visit a castle, County Mayo, Ireland.
Ashford Castle, built in the 13th century on the banks of the Lough Corrib and the River Cong, was once a monastery and later served as the Guinness family home.
Check in with children 2 and younger and you’ll find a teddy bear and a full supply of baby care items waiting. Older children have their own bathrobes to get cozy after a day spent exploring the spacious grounds. Go for a private Hawk Walk, ride horses or learn the history of falconry with on-site experts. Plan to fly-fish for brown trout and salmon with Orvis-endorsed guides.
Contact: ashford.ie; www.discoverireland.com
5 Relax on the Long Beach Peninsula, Wash. A longtime favorite family beach destination, Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula is known for its lodging options, great birding, digging for razor clams, fishing and kite-flying.
It’s also known for beach-driving. You can ride horses on the beach, go whale watching, enjoy area festivals and hike nearby trails.
Contact: 1-800-451-2542; funbeach.com
1. Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel. Brazilian Amazon.
Located 35 miles from Manaus, a bustling city considered the gateway to the Brazilian Amazon, this eco-lodge was among the originators of treehouse getaways. Climb stairways, and scoot across catwalks as you make your way to your leafy retreat. Enroute linger to observe monkeys at play, the rich vegetation, butterflies and views of the Rio Negro below. Don’t miss the chance to embark on an excursion that offers the opportunity to swim with the region’s pink dolphins.
Contact: (888) 462-7428; www.ariauamazontowers.com/
2. Edisto River Treehouses. Canadys, SC.
You’ll commute 13 miles via the longest, free-flowing black water river in North American to reach your treetop hideaway. But of course, that is part of the experience. Carolina Heritage Outfitters offer overnights in three treehouses, tucked in the woods of the privately owned Edisto River Refuge. You’ll want to explore along this lazy waterway that winds through tupelo and cypress swamps. Later, return to your leafy refuge to cook dinner on an outdoor grill via the soft light of tiki torches and candles. Best for older children and adults.
Contact: Contact: (843) 563-5051; www.canoesc.com.
3. Vertical Horizons Treehouses. Cave Junction, OR.
In addition to sleeping in a treetop paradise, kids will enjoy learning a new kind of tree climbing at this southern Oregon outpost. Roped for safety, youngsters of all ages are supported to explore the canopy as high as 90 feet. Gourmet breakfast crafted from local ingredients is included in your stay. After fueling up, enjoy nearby hiking, white-water rafting or relaxing in the serene setting.
Contact: 541-592-4751; www.TreehouseParadise.com.
4. Hana Lani Treehouses. Hana, Maui, HI.
Travel the magnificent Road To Hana and reward yourselves with a family-friendly tree house stay from which you can enjoy the beauty of this pristine region of the Hawaiian Islands. Rustic but comfortable, the tree houses offer screened sleeping areas, linens, running water and views of the ocean over the treetops. Cook on a propane stove or over the barbecue pit.
Contact: 808-248-7241; www.TreehousesofHawaii.com.
5. Treehouse Villas. Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Lake Buena Vista, FLA.
Combine the magical imagery of Swiss Family Robinson-style sleep-overs with a vacation at a Disney Resort and your children just might nominate you for parent of the year. The three-bedroom villas on stilts offer a spacious and comfortable environment in which to enjoy a large family or extended-clan gathering in Mouse country. Shuttles to and from the Walt Disney World theme park and other attractions are available.
Contact: (407) 939-7429; www.DisneyWorld.com (http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/saratoga-springs-resort-and-spa/)
Float, fish, swim, sail. It’s all possible when you plan a family lake vacation.
Here a five places to consider:
Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone National Park. For a different view of this high altitude lake, leave the camper vans and crowds behind and travel across the water via cabin cruiser. Then transfer to a sea kayak or canoe and embark
Teddy was born in Washington DC but grew up in a travel loving family in Arizona. He has rafted the white waters of the Colorado River, hiked to Machu Picchu, explored the Amazon, sampled sushi in Japan and traveled to London and Paris. His world further expanded when he spent five months living in Cuenca, Ecuador learning Spanish and salsa dancing while teaching English. He studied Economics in Montana and graduated from Portland State University in Portland, OR. He and his wife, Kalli, currently plan adventures from their home in Billings, MT.
For a day, a weekend or a week, leave civilization behind and challenge yourselves on the whitewater. Take the rustic approach and camp along the river’s edge. Or float by day and snuggle in at the lodge overnight.
Here are five places where the rivers are wild and scenic:
Rogue River Lodge-based Wilderness Rafting: One of the most famous rivers in the American West, the Rogue flows through a large Wilderness area as it winds from Oregon’s Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It’s the only wilderness rafting trip where you can raft by day and sleep in remote lodges at night! Fun, intermediate rapids, warm water and a green-forested canyon make the Rogue River the perfect natural playground. Combine the trip with a visit to Crater Lake National Park and/or the Oregon Shakespeare festival. Three- and four-day trips depart weekly May to September. Contact: 800-451-6034; www.rowadventures.com/rogue-river-rafting-oregon.html
Adventure on the Stillwater, Red Lodge, MT. Join guide Marek Rosin on a trip down the family-friendly Stillwater River as it winds its way through a one-sided canyon that once served as home for the Crow Indians. Relax in a raft or pop into an inflatable kayak. Run the scenic river near the charming town of Red Lodge, Montana, then take time to explore the river’s source in the majestic Beartooth-Absoraka Wilderness. Contact: 800-897-3061; www.AdventureWhitewater.com
Middle Fork Mastery, Sun Valley, ID -This is no ordinary river adventure. Families will bond on the river while enjoying fly fishing, rafting, kayaking and hiking along the famed Middle Fork of the Salmon River. On your personalized vacation enjoy unexpected luxuries including massage in your chalet tents enhanced by carpets and elevated beds. Dine on organic seasonal fare prepared by a top Sun Valley chef. The outfitter’s American Safari concept promises five star services in a superb natural setting. Contact: 1-832-755-7661; www.far-away.com.
Salt River Treat. Near Fountain Hills, AZ. Enjoy the surprising contrast of stunning Sonoran desert beauty as you float south via your raft, kayak or tube on the Salt River. Saguaro cactus stand guard along the shoreline, hawks soar overhead. Richly hued canyon walls rise from near the water’s edge. During the winter months bunk in at the charming Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch, a family run operation that recalls the western charm often depicted in cowboy film. Saddle up at the ranch and explore the nearby landscape. Contact: 1 (480) 984-2194; www.SaguaroLakeranch.com.
British Columbia Waterways. If you and your family are looking for a remote river experience, consider the pristine waterways of British Columbia. Choose from hundreds of rivers including the Tatshenshini, the powerful Stikine, the Gataga or the historic Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Teeming with fish and wild-life rich, expect natural bounty. The British Columbia Outfitters Association provides information about trips available in the region. Contact: www.BCROA.com.