A larger-than-life experience, Grand Canyon draws tens of thousands of families each year who unplug their smartphones, tune out television, and create lasting memories together.

Bruce Brossman, marketing director for the Grand Canyon National Park Lodges and Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel, shares 10 ways the park helps kids replace virtual reality with a real-life experience that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Guaranteed.

1. Take Part in a Junior Ranger Program

With its historic sights, walking trails, museums, exhibits, and the canyon itself, Grand Canyon National Park may be America’s largest classroom. For kids, one of the most popular activities is participating in a Junior Ranger program.

“Lessons are related to nature, history, the environment, and geology and every program is free,” Brossman explains. “Kids can pick up a Junior Ranger book, complete the activities inside, and then bring it to a ranger at the Visitor Center. After they review the answers, they administer the Junior Ranger pledge and then present them with their Junior Ranger badge. They can even take their new badge to one of the park’s bookstores for a custom sew-on patch related to their award.”

The British Isles are home to a huge array of heritage sites, many of which make “must visit” lists year after year. Although you may not initially think of centuries-old venues as the first place to take your family on a holiday, in fact, children and adults alike can learn a lot from these historic sites. Whether you and your kids are enthralled by the Royal Family, want to see haunting Stonehenge, or are fascinated by tales of the past, you’ll find plenty to explore in England.

Read on for five fascinating historic sites to add to your next British holiday itinerary. 

When I hear about a beautiful book, I have to share it.

We can all use a dose of what this tale has to offer. WIth lovely illustrations, the author, Daniel Salmieri, encourages the reader, (young and old) to focus on our similarities, not our differences. You can order it here:

 

We may have this in common.

Sometimes I long for a peaceful place to relax.

Like this beach on Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica. Don't get me wrong. I like being active: hiking, biking, paddleboarding and pilates. (That last one is new) Here, you can ramble through the jungle and spot howler or white-faced monkeys cavorting in the trees. And the birds. The country is home to some 800 species. 

But there are times when just feeling the warm breeze in your hair is just what the doctor ordered. I was fortunate to spend a few days sleeping within steps of this beautiful beach not long ago.  Even after returning home, I can always access the peaceful vibe in my memory bank.

 

 

 

 

 

Heading to New York City with the family?

If so, one great way to keep everyone entertained is by taking your family members to a play, musical, or concert. When perusing shows in the city, your first decision would be whether you want to see a show on Broadway or off Broadway. The advantage of Broadway shows is that the production value is higher; however, this greater value is reflected in the ticket cost. Off-Broadway shows, however, offer variety at far lower prices.

So you want to dive the Great Blue Hole near  Ambergris Caye, in 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 and for those of us who get sea sick it be a treacherous crossing. But worth it.

great blue hole

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 (PADI) owner Elbert Greer will ensure your dive experience is top-notch.

Contact: www.lasterrazasresort.com; www.whitesandsdiveshop.com; www.travelbelize.org

Island Lovers, take note!

Let the trade winds sweep your cares away when you explore the islands of French Polynesia aboard a four-masted sailing yacht. A great getaway to experience with your teens, adult children or extended family, Windstar sailing ships deliver explorers to an island paradise where blue lagoons and pristine coral reefs provide epic snorkeling, scuba diving and Jet Ski options.

Kayak and paddleboard off the back of the ship’s sports deck. Learn about local cultures during hiking, kayaking and museum-centric shore excursions. Later, relax on a small island (motu) where you can sip coconut drinks, listen to the nimble sounds of a ukulele drifting in the distance and cool off in the sapphire-colored sea.

Contact: www.WindstarCruises.com.

“Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way."

- Ralph Crawshaw

(US sociologist, 1864 - 1929)

How will your family stretch in the year ahead?

FamilyTravel.com Santa on the river

A festive new tradition has charted its course on the Colorado River: Black Canyon River Adventures’ annual Rafting with Santa experience returns Christmas Eve, Sunday, Dec. 24. The 12-mile journey along the mighty Colorado River makes an extraordinary way for families to enjoy the excitement of the holiday season in a raft piloted by jolly old St. Nick or his helpers. 

Looking for a great holiday gift for the history lover in your family? 

Consider Sally Mott Freeman's best-selling Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and his Family's Quest to Bring Him Home.

Sally Mott Freeman's Jersey Brothers is the extraordinary, real-life adventure of three brothers at the center of the most dramatic turning points of World War II and their mad race to change history—and save one of their own.

Compelling and brilliantly written, you'll want to snag one for yourself while ordering for friends and family!

Order here: 

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