The Lodge at Chaa Creek. Near San Ignacio, Belize.
Prince Harry chose this remarkable, riverside eco-lodge as headquarters during a visit to the jungles of this Central American country.
Tucked within a 365-acre private rainforest paradise in the picturesque foothills of the Maya Mountains, Chaa Creek provides the ideal home base for your family’s exploration of the Cayo District, a region where cave tubing, archeological sites, horseback riding and zip lining will lure you from the comfort of your palm-thatched cottage or tree-top suite.
While at the Lodge, don’t miss early morning bird watching tours, the hill-top spa, the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and the medicine trail where you’ll learn about the native plants that provide globally significant remedies.
Contact: (877) 709-8708; www.ChaaCreek.com.
Family-friendly lodges provide an activity-rich haven for the adventuresome clan.
Here are five places you’ll want to visit time and again:
The Lodge at Chaa Creek. Near San Ignacio, Belize.
Prince Harry chose this remarkable, riverside eco-lodge as headquarters during a visit to the jungles of this Central American country. Tucked within a 365-acre private rainforest paradise in the picturesque foothills of the Maya Mountains, Chaa Creek provides the ideal home base for your family’s exploration of the Cayo District, a region where cave tubing, archeological sites, horseback riding and zip lining will lure you from the comfort of your palm-thatched cottage or tree-top suite. While at the Lodge, don’t miss early morning bird watching tours, the hill-top spa, the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and the medicine trail where you’ll learn about the native plants that provide globally significant remedies.
Contact: (877) 709-8708; www.ChaaCreek.com.
Skytop Lodge. Skytop, PA.
A top spot for family reunions, this Poconos Mountain resort has been welcoming guests to their 5,500 acre playground since the 1920s. In addition to golf, canoeing, kayaking, biking, naturalist led hikes, rafting and paintball, families can explore the newly opened Tree Top Adventure course. Expect high-energy fun that includes zip lines, suspended bridges, nets, swings and an aerial surf board. Ask about the Camp in the Clouds for kids.
Contact: 800 -345 -7759; www.Skytop.com.
The Lodge at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Tabernash, CO.
No need to leave Fido behind when you travel to this Rocky Mountain getaway 65 miles from Denver. Here, the lodge folks encourage kids to use their “outside voices” because that’s where they will want to spend their time. Whether the junior set is exploring on foot, horseback or mountain bike, there is plenty of country to cover on this 5,000 acre ranch where rustic charm meets luxurious comfort. Grown ups may opt for spa or fly rod time while kids get to know other youngsters in the Cowpoke Camp. The junior set will be engaged with active games, mountaineering and orienteering as well as learning about Native American culture.
Contact: 970-726-5632; www.devilsthumbranch.com
The Whiteface Lodge. Lake Placid, NY.
Relax in luxury amidst the Adirondack wilderness. Here, the Lodge concierge can help you and your clan mix hiking, fly fishing, canoeing, and rock climbing into your family holiday. Splash in the pools, bowl, play platform tennis or enjoy the spa. During the summer months, kids ages three to 14 can tap into a full range of activities provided by the complimentary KAMP KANU. After sunset, a fine dining experience awaits the parents while the youth crew enjoys a pizza dinner as well as themed activities that range from Pirates at Play to Space Night. End the evening roasting marshmallows with your family around the campfire. Contact: (518) 523-0500; www.thewhitefacelodge.com/
The Lodge at Tiburon. Tiburon, CA.
Visit this quaint Northern California sailing town for a taste of seaside history. Enjoy magnificent waterfront shopping, galleries, dining and bike paths where your family can cycle in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. A perfect jumping off place for side trips to San Francisco, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Sausalito, and Napa Valley, the California Craftsman-style Lodge offers 103-rooms, complimentary wi-fi, DVD rentals, and fitness center. Bike rentals are also free and your pets are welcome.
Contact: 800-762-7770 www.lodgeattiburon.com.
Tap into the graceful tradition of tea. Here are five special places to consider:
Alice’s Tea Cup. NY, NY. One family’s affection for sharing stories over a steaming cup of fragrant, fresh tea spawned these three neighborhood refuges for tea lovers. Children of all ages are happily perplexed by the nearly overwhelming list of specialty teas as well as temptations like fresh-baked blueberry, raspberry and pumpkin scones,
Lisa Tucker is a law professor at the Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law. She is also the author of eleven children’s books, most of them up-close and personal looks at fascinating Americans. Lisa contributes regularly to outlets like the New York Times’ Motherlode and Parenting magazine, as well as many print, web, and broadcast outlets.
Sometimes we must find respite from our hectic, tech-saturated lives.
Here are five places with a powerful sense of place where you and your family will also find peace:
Northern Lights. Alaska.
In the deep reaches of Alaska, somewhere above 60 degrees north latitude, you and your family will have the opportunity to see a red, green, blue and purple light display known as an aurora or the Northern Lights. The best time to catch the show is around the spring and fall equinoxes (mid-March and mid-September) The lights are most intense from December through March when the nights are darker. Consider a tour that includes a dip in a hot spring, a climb to a hilltop where viewers can marvel at the magnificent light display and a Mongolian yurt in which you can retreat to stay warm.
Float The Grand Canyon.
Whether you travel by raft or dory, for a few days or a few weeks, the majesty of the Grand Canyon may well provide a transformative experience, as it does for many visitors. This national treasure stretches 277 miles across northern Arizona, and plays host to more than five million visitors each year. From your craft on the Colorado River, geologically diverse canyon walls rise as high as 9,000 feet toward the western sky. Hike the side canyons, plow through storied rapids, relax on sandy beaches and revel in the grandeur of one of nature’s finest accomplishments.
Visit this seaside enclave on the East end of Long Island. Just 100 miles but a world away from the bustling Big Apple, you’ll find secluded beaches, whaling tales and pounding surf. Deep sea fishing, hiking, seal watching and surfing are all available in this community, first settled by Europeans in the mid-1600s. Scramble to the top of the Montauk Point Lighthouse for magnificent views of the craggy coastline.
Contact: www.OnMontauk.com; www.GurneysInn.com.
Hike the Canyons. Springdale, UT.
Find your way into the canyon country of southern Utah. From curvaceous slot canyons to table-top plateaus, this peaceful yet grand countryside offers a visual bonanza of color, shape and form. Consider the Narrows, a spectacular 16 mile corridor that requires one rigorous day for fit family members. Most recommend an overnight. Better yet, choose the Bottoms Up hike enabling hikers to see the most stunning aspects of the canyon in four to six hours. Numerous day hikes and mountain biking options abound.
Boundary Waters Canoe Trips. Ely, MN.
Your family will enjoy the peace and tranquility that can be found within this pristine wilderness area. Listen to the waves lapping against the shore as you drift to sleep in one of 2,000 secluded campsites that dot the lake region. Wake to the sounds of birds chirping in the birch trees, enjoy breakfast over a campfire and then set out to explore the more than 1,500 miles of canoe routes that criss-cross the waterways.
Are you or someone in your family planning a destination wedding?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suggests you carefully consider how you might pass through security with carry-ons that might include a magnificent dress, killer shoes, and just the right shade of nail polish.
Mineral hot springs offer the chance to soak in healing waters and to learn about their ancient origins. Here are six places where you and your family can warm up in the water:
1.Steamboat Springs, CO.
In the late 1880s fur trappers passing through this Colorado enclave, heard an odd noise resembling a steamboat. They were pleasantly surprised to find more than 150 geothermal steamy, bubbling springs that today soothe tired muscles après ski or after a long days’ hike. The centrally-located Old Town Hot Springs offers swimming pools, a full-service fitness center and a waterslide for the kids. Just seven miles from town, the Strawberry Park Hot Springs offers a unique experience, with hand-built stone pools of varying temperatures, tepee changing rooms and a natural and serene environment. Note: Children are welcome during the day. Once the sun goes down, you must be 18 or older and clothing is optional.
Contact: (970) 879-0342; www.StrawberryHotSprings.com. (970) 879-1828; www.SteamboatHotSprings.com.
2. Thermopolis, Wy
Visit the world’s largest mineral hot spring in this western town where the whole family can swim, slide, soak and steam inside or outdoors. See the mineral-formed rainbow terraces and other natural creations as well as the local buffalo herd at the Hot Springs State Park. Learn how paleontologists work, participate in a real dig or wander through the museum at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. Don’t miss the 108 foot Supersaurus stretching overhead.
Contact: 1 (877) 864-3192; www.Thermopolis.com.
3. Glenwood Springs, CO.
Royals, presidents and Ute Indians have all found these steamy pools to provide great respite from the rest of the world. Two blocks long, the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool complex includes a kiddy pool with water slide, a diving pool and a therapy pool. Relax in the warm waters and enjoy the Rocky Mountain scenery. Later, step next door to the Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves for a natural sauna in rock caves. Spend the night in nearby geothermal-heated hotel rooms.
Contact: (970) 945-6571; www.hotspringspool.com.
4. Calistoga, CA
The Palisade Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop to a day spent relaxing in this comfortable, family-run spa in Napa Valley. Warm up in an 80-foot-long lap pool, a 90-degree kiddie pool with a waterfall or the 100-degree pool. The steamy therapy pool is for adults only. Mud baths, massages and a fitness facility are also available. A multi-generational favorite, rooms with kitchenettes make a family overnight easy to handle.
Contact: 866-822-5772; www.calistogaspa.com.
5. Rio Grande Village, TX.
Soak in the scenery as well as the warm water within Big Bend National Park. Look for painted pictographs on the cliff walls as you enjoy the one mile loop hike past historic buildings and the area where various Indian groups lived and traveled. The large hot spring on the bank of the Rio Grande River gushes with steamy water that fills the foundation of an old bathhouse creating a popular natural hot tub. Contact: (432)477-2251; www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/soakinthesprings.htm
6. Salmon River, Idaho.
Ask your river guides to make time for a stop at several hot springs that dot the banks or side channels of both the Middle Fork and the Main Salmon River. The steamy waters provide a warming alternative to a day of spray as you paddl your way through these scenic waters. Contact: www.Far-Away.com
One hundred years ago, during February, Arizona gave up its Territory status. Known for abundant sunshine, towering saguaros and the Grand Canyon, our 48th state also offers a diverse landscape and a wealth of natural and cultural opportunities for curious families.
Here are five ideas:
1. Experience the Arizona Trail.
Sample a section of this recently completed 800-mile scenic pathway that winds through deserts, canyons (including the Grand Canyon) mountains and mesas, stretching from the Arizona-Mexico border in the south, to Utah in the north. Explore the trail via foot, horseback, mountain bike, mule or snowshoe and tap into historic sites, geologic wonders and an extraordinary menu of wildlife and vegetation. Designated as a National Scenic Trail, small communities, abandoned mining sites, cliff dwellings and remote wilderness areas also lure adventure seekers. Contact: www.AZTrail.org.
2. Baseball Spring Training.
Each year, baseball fans unite in the Valley of the Sun to watch their favorite teams warm up their skills under the Southwestern sun. For example, Scottsdale is home to the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Games get underway during the month of March in downtown Scottsdale and at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, along Scottsdale's border with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The crack of the bat, hot dogs and popcorn can also be found in the neighboring communities of Mesa, Surprise and Tempe. Packages available.
3.Visit Native American Lands.
Arizona has the largest percentage of Native American Tribal land in the United States. In Northern Arizona, travel through the much larger Navajo Reservation and visit the historic Hopi village of Oraibi. Built in 1100 and discovered by a lieutenant of Coronado in 1540, this small enclave is considered to be the oldest Native American settlement in the country. Shop for local crafts and visit with the native people. Consider a tour that includes visits with potters, basket makers and kachina carvers and to learn about the geology and cultural significance of the region.
4.A Bird Lovers Paradise.
Southern Arizona is recognized as a world-renowned migratory corridor for birds and was declared the first Globally Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Families visiting Sierra Vista, the “hummingbird capital of the US”, have the opportunity to spot more than 14 varieties of the small, winged creatures. Nearby Ash Canyon is home to a rarely-sighted hummingbird, the plain-capped starthroat. Pack your sun screen, hiking boots and binoculars. More than 150 bird species, ranging from sand hill cranes to colorful flycatchers, await.
5. Travel The Salsa Trail.
Dip your chips in the spicy sauce that gives this trail its name. You’ll expand your culinary horizons while enjoying a Southeastern Arizona road trip. Visit with local farmers, ranchers and miners as you wind your way along the scenic Old West Highway that connects eight communities known for great Mexican food, derived from old family recipes and small-town, friendly service. Visit the local tortilla factory and sample fresh roasted chiles at a nearby farm. In the Fall, the annual SalsaFest features salsa-making and eating contests as well as music and family activities.
Contact: www.SalsaTrail.com; Resource: www.ArizonaGuide.com
Family ranch vacations blend outdoor fun with unplugged relaxation. Round up your clan and consider these destinations for a plum western good time:
1. Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Mont.
Spend the night in a Trapper Tent, a half-cabin, half-luxury canvas tent, nestled within 6,000 acres of rugged Montana wilderness. If you prefer four solid walls, choose the Granite Lodge or log homes on the property. Families may opt for fly-fishing on private trout ponds and Rock Creek, horseback riding, clay shooting, paintball, hiking and mountain biking. Later, sit a spell in the ranch’s Silver Dollar Saloon where karaoke, billiards, big-screen movies and bowling will entertain your crowd. Plumb tuckered out? Choose a riverside or mountain getaway spot where you’ll find a hammock, blankets, pillows, snacks and a little peace and quiet. Enjoy your nap, cowboy style.
Contact: 406-859-6027; www.theranchatrockcreek.com; www.frontierstravel.com.
2. Flying E Dude Ranch, Wickenburg, AZ.
With 20,000 acres to ride and roam there is seldom a day without sunshine. The Flying E Dude Ranch is a working cattle ranch and the ideal place to take a step back in time.Enjoy delicious home cooked meals, great horses and a comfortable place to relax at the end of the day. Open Nov 1 to April 30.
3. Hacienda Santa Ines. Cartago, Costa Rica.
The children can feed the lambs and piglets before a family breakfast of fresh farm eggs and other culinary delights plucked from the organic garden and greenhouse. Here, in the Tres Rios mountains, your family will enjoy the essence of rustic farm life in a luxurious environment amidst flower-laden lawns, lagoons and stables. Ride Fresian horses, swim in the pool, and ride ATVs throughout the 300- acre working ranch and farm. Play paintball, help milk the cows or enjoy the spa. With only 11 guest rooms, you’ll enjoy a peaceful holiday or perhaps your own family reunion.
4.Three Bars Cattle & Guest Ranch, Cranbrook, BC, Canada.
Visit the Three Bars GuestRanch, The Adventure Ranch of the Canadian Rockies, where you will experience the ultimate horseback riding vacation. Located just south of Banff National Park, Three Bars Ranch offers diverse activities program, providing something for everyone. Voted Canada’s #1 Dude Ranch 2011. www.ThreeBarsRanch.com 877-426-5230.
5. Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch, Quincy, CA.
A truly all inclusive guest dude ranch vacation, this ranch is the perfect location for family vacations, reunions, weddings, corporate and business retreats, meetings, special events, equine guided education and so much more. Serving up true western hospitality. www.greenhornranch.com 800-334-6939
7. Hideaway Ranch and Retreat, Bluff Dale, Texas.
Kids can help crack the case of the Buffalo Gulch Bank Robbery by finding clue boxes around the 155-acre ranch. The reigning super sleuth will earn an honorary sheriff’s badge. More fun can be had in this Erath County location by swimming in the big stock tank, fishing, enjoying family picnics and wagon pulls, horseback riding and learning archery. Choose from rustic or more modern cabins in the woods throughout the ranch.
Contact: 1-866-609-4433; www.thehideawayranch.com.
8. Creek Ranch, Lake Hatchineha, Fla.
This family-owned ranch is one of the few of its size that remain in the bustling state of Florida. Just an hour from Orlando yet a world away, you’ll find wetlands-style bird-watching and the chance to ride horses across the ranchland as well as an airboat across Lake Hatchineha. Families ride bikes, hop aboard jeep tours, play boccie ball, learn skeet shooting or to explore the chain of lakes that begins just beyond your cabin door.
Contact: 863-307-9627; www.creekranch.net.
9. Hunewill Circle “H” Guest Ranch, Bridgeport, CA.
Hunewill Ranch is a family owned and operated cattle and guest ranch located near Yosemite National Park in the beautiful Bridgeport Valley. Horseback riding and cattle work are featured attractions for a vacation experience suited to families, singles, or couples. www.hunewillranch.com 760-932-7710