Diving boards and the deep end have been replaced by daredevil drops and surf zones.
Here are five places where you and the family can splash together in cool pools and waterparks.
Royal Caribbean, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Visitors to the cruise line’s recently relaunched, 125-acre, private island, CocoCay, can choose to Thrill, Chill or both, while the ship docks for the day at a newly built pier. For those who opt for the Thrill Zone, the centerpiece is Daredevil Peak, a 135-foot high slide, said to be the highest in North America. A dozen other slides, a wave pool and assorted water play areas will keep youngsters and the young at heart busy for hours. Also, in the neighborhood you’ll find a helium balloon ride, a 1,600-foot long zip line and casual hang out zones from which to watch others tackle the heights.
On the Chill side, expect a long stretch of beach, options for snorkeling, wave running, paddle boarding, kayaking and simply soaking up the sun while floating on a royal blue raft.
Don't forget your sunscreen!
JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, Aventura, FL
This South Florida resort recently opened the Tidal Cove Waterpark, an integral part of a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation project. The new five-acre fun zone includes a 60-foot tower with seven water slides, a 4,000-square-foot kids pool with an aquatic play area, and a triple Flow Rider simulation pool, the first of its kind in the country. The 42-foot wide surf simulation machine incorporates elements of surfing, bodyboarding, skateboarding, skimboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding. The new water features connect with current facilities that include a Lazy River, a zero entry pool and 25 luxury cabanas for privacy and relaxation.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, Ariz
A family stay at this Sonoran desert resort is full of fun surprises, beginning at the Kid's Check-in desk. In no time, your gang can dig your toes in the sand at the Sunset Beach pool or join the festivities at the Sonoran Splash pool where water slides, music, games and dive-in movies up the fun factor. Kids can fish in the lagoon, play golf or spend the day at the Trailblazers Kids Club where activities include ping pong, learning about desert wildlife, making s'mores in a solar oven and recreational games. The day ends with an ice cream social. Sweet treats aside, parents will appreciate the Lifestyle Cuisine menu for adults and children that focuses on providing healthy choices.
Grand Wailea Resort, Maui, HI
This island haven may be most famous for its beaches, but don't pass up the chance to explore what this resort has to offer. The whole family will be eager to explore the 25,700-square-foot area that includes nine free-form pools. Travel via a "river" to check out the slides, waterfalls, caves, water elevator, swim-up bar, rope swing and more that are part of this water wonderland. Adventurers will want to check out the 262-foot Lava Slide, a 14-second thrill ride that includes a 30-foot drop and speeds up to 22 miles per hour.
Aquatica, Orlando, FL.
With 42 water slides, rides, rivers, and lagoons, this award-winning water park in Orlando is part of the SeaWorld family. Check out the Walhalla Wave, a family raft ride that includes more than 600 feet of drenching twists, turns, and drops into darkness. Earlier this year, Aquatica Orlando became the world’s first water park to be recognized as a certified autism center with the ability to offer resources and tools for families with members that have autism and other special needs.
Cruise fans have been waiting for the reopening of CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas.
The time has come!
We checked out the newly named “Perfect Day at CocoCay” next week. It’s a 125-acre fun zone (with a chill zone for those who would rather relax and soak up the sun) where families can frolick in a waterpark with 13 slides, a mega wave pool, and another pool with a built-in obstacle course.
And then, there’s Thrill Waterpark, home to the tallest slide in North America, a 1,600-foot long zip line and a helium balloon ride.
Hope you caught some of the action on our social feeds!
And you can read more about CocoCay and other fun water parks here.
Planning your next family vacation?
Turn the tables and try something new and different.
Here are five ideas to consider:
Trade a ritzy resort for the backcountry.
Family camping can help stir a deep and lifelong interest in the natural world. For the purest connection to nature, make your way off the beaten path. Hike, paddle or float into a pristine location where your family can learn or hone wilderness skills. Choose a destination suitable for the ages and abilities of your crew. Encourage each person to take responsibility for the adventure, whether that be early research, carrying a small pack, collecting kindling or serving as master storyteller around the fire.
If you are concerned about the youngest members of your clan, consider a practice round in the backyard or nearby park. That way, if the weather or unforeseen forces create a kink in your plans, warm and dry shelter is nearby.
Trade the country for the city.
For the ultimate New York experience join the Sofitel New York in their salute to Broadway and the Tony Awards. Check in to the Midtwon hotel’s Tony Awards Suite, a luxury space with jaw-dropping views of the Manhattan skyline. You’ll be immersed in Broadway memorabilia and amenities including a Tony Awards songbook, scripts from award-winning plays, photographs, playbills, invitations and a video loop of of footage from this’s season’s most popular productions. Of course, with all that in-room inspiration you’ll want to catch a stage performance yourselves. Head to the TKTS booth in Time Square to snag last minute, discounted tickets.
Put down the clubs. Pick up a racket.
Then head to the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont’s Green Mountains. Their new family programs include instruction at the Woodstock Tennis Academy where families can hone skills and strategies while participating in relaxed games and doubles matches. A team of pros will host sessions at the resort’s world-class facilities which include indoor and outdoor U.S. Open and Hard-tru courts. The program consists of four half-day sessions, Monday through Thursday. (Check the website for dates and details.) While visiting the 2,500-plus acre property, families can also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing and gardening classes. Contact: https://www.woodstockinn.com
Trade terra firma for a boat that floats.
Go all in and commit to a family adventure aboard a Disney cruise ship. Choose from four vessels, Disney Wonder, Magic, Dream and Fantasy, each designed to conjure a bygone era but with plenty of modern amenities. (And, a respectful hat tip to the mouse that got the whole thing started.) Expect top notch service from smiling staff members, character meet and greets each day, movies, performances, pool time and a menu of enrichment experiences. Disney aims to offer an elegant, yet family-friendly, experience on every ship.
What you won’t find: a casino.
Don't fly over. Make it a road trip. Drive through some beautiful country and stop often. Visitors who travel this extraordinary byway, experience the visual trifecta of Montana, Wyoming and Yellowstone Park, home to the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains. The Beartooth Highway, a windy, cliff-hugging 68-mile stretch introduces road explorers to one of the most diverse ecosystems accessible by auto. It’s also the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies. Stunningly beautiful, the All-American Road showcases wide, high alpine plateaus, painted with patches of ice blue glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife. Plan for many pull overs and perhaps a picnic, so the driver can take in the long views!
Avalon Waterways has announced that Elizabeth Gilbert, acclaimed author of the award-winning, New York Times-bestselling EAT PRAY LOVE, will christen the Avalon Envision on the Danube River during an international ceremony this Spring in Budapest.
“As somebody who is almost pathologically obsessed with travel and adventure, what could be more fun than being named the godmother of a beautiful riverboat? I’m honored and delighted to be part of this lovely endeavor,” Ms. Gilbert said of her godmother duties.
“From EAT PRAY LOVE to BIG MAGIC, as an author, Ms. Gilbert has invited her readers to envision something different; a hint of a life or journey outside their comfort zone,” said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “An inspired choice as godmother of the Avalon Envision, she has helped us embrace curiosity each day in search of extraordinary. This is something we ask our travelers to do on their journeys across the world with Avalon.”
After the christening ceremony, the 443-foot, 166-passenger Avalon Envision will join an all Suite Ship fleet to sail the Danube River throughout 2019.
“With the addition of the Avalon Envision, there’s only one point-of-view on an Avalon Waterways cruise – the suite view,” said Hoffee. “For the first time, our entire fleet in Europe and Southeast Asia is comprised completely of Suite Ships, each featuring our signature Panorama Suites with the industry’s only Open-Air Balcony and an inviting bed facing the ever-changing scenery on two full decks of every ship. Even seasoned travelers have never seen – or experienced – the world like this.”
Creating wider openings for the wide-eyed, Avalon Waterways’ Open-Air Balconies were designed with views in mind. A Panorama Suite highlight on all of the Suite Ships of Avalon, these wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows open 11-feet wide in Europe and 14-feet wide in Southeast Asia. Wider than any other balconies in the industry. They blur the line between outside and in while forming a comfortable and spacious seating area without compromising room space. As a result, Avalon guests can enjoy 100 percent of their Panorama Suite, 100 percent of the time.
Oceania Cruises' “Superbowl at Sea” Aboard Riviera’s Reef & Ruins
Just because cruise-goers are hopping between destinations like Belize, Mexico and Cuba on an adventure of a lifetime, does not mean they’ll have to miss tuning into the action on the biggest football game of the year when the Patriots take on the Rams.
Oceania Cruises Riviera will be hosting a live Superbowl Sunday viewing party, allowing football fanatics onboard to witness the action of the game in real time. The party will include football-themed decor and the traditional Superbowl party food, from wings to burgers and chips and dip. The 10-day Caribbean cruise, which departs from Miami January 26th, will include multiple stops in beautiful ports and array of excursions. Cabins start at $3,099 per guest.
For those who want to spend Superbowl Sunday aboard, book today at www.oceaniacruises.com.
There are family vacations. And, then there are epic adventures that may qualify as the experience of a lifetime.
Here are five to consider now.
Plan a family safari.
Visit northern Tanzania’s Serengeti for a wildlife viewing and cultural extravaganza. Home to more than 3,000 lions and1000 leopards as well as zebras, wildebeests, warthogs and waterbuck, it’s a magical sanctuary best known for the great migration.
With the Four Seasons Serengeti as your basecamp, choose to explore via half and full day jeep tours, walking safaris, or from the basket of a high-flying, hot air balloon. The excitement doesn’t end when you return to the Lodge, where a watering hole, just beyond the Infiniti pool, serves up hydrating sustenance to elephant families on a daily basis.
Dine on the veranda, with sweeping views of the plains, where giraffe, eland and topi graze in the distance. Kids can visit the on-site discovery center to learn about Maasai history and culture, the significance of the Serengeti Cheetah Project and life in the bush. Relax at the spa, take a family cooking class and be amazed by a live performance of tribal dance and song offered by local Maasai.
Contact: https://www.fourseasons.com/serengeti/ ;
Revel in a river cruise.
Unpack. Settle in and let the adventure begin.
Explore the Rhine, Danube or Seine river valleys with your family or multigenerational group from aboard a luxury AmaWaterways ship. With itineraries crafted to your family’s preferences, each day you’ll take part in active adventures or culturally immersive experiences in compelling destinations.
Well-trained and knowledgable Disney adventure guides, paired with local storytellers, combine talents to insure each member of the family gets maximum enjoyment from the trip. Wander through medieval castles, sample local cuisine, pedal along the river bank and enjoy private tours and insider access to popular attractions. Adventure guides are at the ready to engage youngsters in evening activities so the adults may opt for a fine dining experience or a musical performance. (Food and wine trips are also possible when it's time to leave the youngest travelers at home.)
Expect an all-inclusive, backstage pass-style adventure through the heart of Europe.
Our sparsely populated and endlessly captivating 49th state lures those who yearn for epic scenery, spouting whales and glaciers the size of small countries. Experience family travel in rugged Alaska via boutique yachts and expedition ships that set sail for adventure beginning each Spring.
Aboard smaller vessels you’ll have meaningful cultural experiences, find your way to natural nooks and crannies, opt for hiking and kayaking and discover rarely visited wilderness areas, increasing the chance for up-close wildlife viewing. Those who venture to America’s last frontier will be rewarded with Mother Nature in all her glory.
Discover Minnesota’s Boundary Waters.
Ease your canoes into the pristine water near Ely, MN and look forward to peaceful days of paddling amid a sparsely populated, one million-plus acre expanse of wilderness. Listen to the waves lapping against the shoreline and the haunting lullaby offered by local loons 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 and enjoy breakfast over a campfire. Then set out to explore more of the 1,500 miles of canoe routes that crisscross the waterways.
Immerse in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.
Given the island’s location on the equator, air and water temperatures remain relatively stable, making the Galapagos Islands a desirable destination any time of the year. Within this pristine and diverse eco-system, your family will thrill to the site of cliff-diving blue-footed boobies and the waved albatross known for an elaborate courtship dance that can include 20 minutes of bowing, honking, whistling and bill clacking. You’ll want to know about Darwin’s 13 finches, creatures that were central to the scientist’s evolutionary theories. Learn more about the volcanic island’s winged population as well as the abundance of sharks, sea lions, mantas and iguanas via a live aboard vessel (popular with scuba divers), a cruise or a hotel-based tour.
Sharks continue to fascinate kids of all ages. Here are five ways to plan a family trip that incorporates sea-faring adventure and facilitates a greater understanding of our oceans and the creatures that live in the sea.
1. Summer of Shark, Princess Cruises.
If your crew is known to binge on the annual Shark Week programming, you’ll want to join the cruise line’s Discovery at SEA program, offered in partnership with the Discovery Channel, for a fully immersive experience honoring the great finned creatures. Expect elevators, restaurants and other public spaces decked out in shark style as well as themed events, culinary offerings and other shark-centric festivities.
Children and teens can head to the newly designed Camp Discovery where age-appropriate shark-themed activities will be underway, including shark face painting, the crafting of shark clay models and shark inspired jewelry. For those seeking more of an adrenaline rush, ask about the shark diving and whale shark encounters available during some sailings.
2. Cancun, MX.
Swimming with the largest fish in the sea is a thrill worth seeking. Whale sharks reach lengths of 40 feet and can weigh 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 Cancún. 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 supersize square jaws and begin filtering everything in their path like a water-born vacuum cleaner.
Contact: cancun.travel; solobuceo.com.
3. Atlantis Resort. Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Slip, slide and walk among sharks at this expansive island resort where families have access to141 acres of adrenaline-pumping water play. Head for the Leap of Faith slide at the top of the Mayan Temple, plop in an inner tube and hang on for the ride. You’ll twist and turn through a tunnel, dropping almost 60 vertical feet, before emerging in a clear, acrylic tube deep within a shark-filled lagoon. For those who want to stay dry, panoramic windows offer views of Hammerheads, Reef Sharks and barracudas. The more adventuresome can don specially designed underwater helmets and walk with the sharks inside their exhibit.
4. Cabo San Lucas, MX.
Join the trip to Cabo Pulmo to experience 300 species of fish, 200 marine invertebrates as well as Bull Sharks in what is called the world’s most “robust and healthy marine reserve”. For the more adventuresome (and those over 15) consider the Cabo Shark dive that includes swimming with silky, blue, smooth hammerhead and mako sharks. The organization’s founder and professional shark dive guide, Jacopo Brunetti, is an Italian marine biologist, PADI scuba instructor, and a shark behavioral expert. His goal is to encourage shark viewing and diving as an eco-sustainable activity.
Learning to scuba dive is a great way to learn about sharks and other creatures of the deep blue sea. Tom and Margo Peyton, co-owners of Family Dive Adventures, advise families to choose family-friendly destinations where the water is warm, clear and there is no current. They often recommend Bonaire, Grand Cayman and St. Lucia for beginners and early diving practice. The company provides group and custom dive trips and has certified more than 5,500 children during the last two decades. Ask about Kids Sea Camp, during which children and their parents learn about sharks, manta rays and the latest in global marine conservation. Contact:
Resource: Check out the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week programming for a massive menu of documentaries, videos, shark cams, virtual dives and “fintastic” facts. Contact: www.Discovery.com.
Warm up with a sun-drenched and relaxing family getaway. From Costa Rica to California to the Caribbean, these experiences will tempt you to begin packing....right now.
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagaya.
Seamlessly integrating the Peninsula’s vibrant landscape with the amenities of a contemporary eco-luxury hotel, the Forbes Five-Star luxury, 182-room resort has recently reopened, revealing the results of an imaginative $35 million renovation.
Tap into the “pura vida” lifestyle (it's for real) and choose from a long list of adventure, spa, fitness and wellness opportunities served up in a relaxed and welcoming indoor-outdoor environment. Access kayaks, paddleboards and jet skis from the beach or relax by one of several pools that overlook the volcanic sand beach areas.
For a family-friendly introduction to the exotic fauna and flora of Costa Rica take a guided tour of the Trail of the Giants, a scenic adventure that showcases the region’s birds, monkeys, iguanas, butterflies and giant trees while providing jaw dropping views of the resort’s Arnold Palmer golf course and the Pacific Ocean. The Kids For All Seasons club features a kid-sized pool and junior lounge chairs as well as a range of immersive programs to entice the youngest guests.
Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California
A family favorite, this iconic Victorian gem is the crown jewel of one of the most popular beach vacation spots in the United States. The long, wide stretch of sand provides easy access to the water and thus the perfect home base for your family’s seaside activities. Get out the boogie boards, issue a beach volleyball challenge, take surfing lessons, learn the secrets of mermaid fitness or join a clambake. Top-notch children’s and teen programs and spa options are also available. You’ll create your own family history in this legendary beach destination.
Set sail with Royal Caribbean.
You’ll find plenty of family adventure onboard the megaships headed for the sun-drenched Caribbean waters. Snap a selfie with your favorite Dreamworks characters or test your skills on the rock-climbing wall. Go ashore and enjoy water sports and cultural outings. Push your limits on the longest zip line over water, test your skills on the Flow Rider surf simulator and take in high-diving, and acrobatic performances at an outdoor AquaTheatre. There is entertainment for every age group, an array of dining options to suit every taste and the option to relax by the pool with your favorite book. Check for special savings on last minute departures. Contact: www.RoyalCaribbean.com.
Del Mar, CA.
Immerse your family in Old World, Mediterranean-inspired luxury when you check into the family-friendly, 249-room Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Lounge aside one of four heated pools, check out the equestrian center, sign up for a guided hike into the adjacent canyon preserve, or consider a mother-daughter spa treatment. Get in the swing of things on the Tom Fazio-designed golf course or pile into the free shuttle for a day at the beach.
For an extraordinary dining experience, indulge in an adults-only evening at Chef William Bradley’s Addison, Southern California’s only five-star, five-diamond restaurant. It's an experience you will long remember and be eager to tell your foodie friends about.
Hawk’s Cay Resort, Duck Key, FL.
While some parts of this popular family resort may still be recovering from hurricane damage, guests eager to return to this sunny stretch in the Florida Keys can take advantage of up to 30 percent discounts for stays in resort villas. The Can’t Wait Rate includes access to Coral Cay, the kid’s activities center, where a putting course, the wet and wild Pirate Ship pool and a long list of other activities will be available. The spa, boat ramp and Angler & Ale waterfront restaurant will also be open. Families can also check out the dolphin research facility, learn to stand up paddleboard, go fishing or explore the underwater world with a snorkel. Sounds like a great family vacation!
Wrap those travel dreams and savor the gift of experience, knowledge and memories that last a lifetime.
Here are five ideas to consider:
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.
For those who relish the white stuff, the gift of travel to Colorado Ski Country will be a high altitude hit. At more than 21 resorts throughout the state, kids under various ages are offered the opportunity to ski free. For example, kids under five always ski free at Arapahoe, Aspen Snowmass and Loveland. Steamboat's Kids Ski Free and Grandkids Ski Free programs enable children 12 and younger to ski free the same number of days as their parent/grandparent with the purchase of a 5-or-more day adult lift ticket. Other resorts offer lift ticket deals as well as lodging, lesson and gear discounts.
Choose a ranch vacation and you’ll have the opportunity to learn horsemanship in an authentic and scenic setting. Opt to ride in open meadows, on mountain trails or in the sun-drenched, desert southwest. Will your family members choose to participate in a real cattle drive? Are you up for a horse pack trip into the backcountry? Will your youngsters be eager to learn the skills required for team penning and other arena games? Or will you be happy to relax during daily trail rides and around the campfire come nightfall. The options are yours at working dude ranches and guest ranches across the country.
Are you a fan of Fenway? Have you been to Yankee Stadium or Miller Park? If the mere thought makes you smile, a Big League Tour might be a perfect fit for your family. Word is you’ll hang out with MLB players, get on to the field, inside the dugouts and catch a batting practice in the venues that continue to infuse allegiance to the game. Tours and vacation packages make it possible to hear the crack of the bat in your favorite cities or an entire region. Pair a tour with a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, NY. to learn more about the history and cultural significance of the game through memorabilia and interactive exhibits.
Celebrate our freedom and the beauty of our land with a visit to one or more of our 392 national parks. With so many historical and natural wonders to discover, consider heading to the National Park Service’s web pages, specifically designed to help regular and first time visitors plan a meaningful trip. There you research park activities as well as camping, back country, lodging and educational options. Across America, each day there are special events, institute and field schools as well as volunteer opportunities. Check for fee free days and Junior Ranger programs for the kids.