Beach vacations are hard to beat.
Toddlers build sand castles. Teens socialize around a volley ball net or work on their tan.
Adults enjoy a little peace and a paperback.
Here are eleven beach destinations that offer sun, sand and something more:
Caneel Bay, St Johns Virgin Islands.
Once a favored getaway for Laurance Rockefeller and family, this 170-acre island paradise is tucked within the Virgin Islands National Park, a protection made possible by Rockefellar’s land donation to the government in 1956. Today, family travelers can hike park trails and swim, snorkel, dive, kayak and sail in the pristine waters of the resort’s bays and inlets. Youngsters can enjoy a complimentary kids club experience while parents opt for tennis, relaxation on one of seven beaches or a massage in an open-air cabana. Plein aire art classes are also available for the creatively inclined. Contact: 340-776-6111; RosewoodResorts.com/en/caneelbay (Recovering from hurricane damage.)
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
Wrap yourselves in luxury (and those deliciously cozy bathrobes) and enjoy a seaside holiday. Stow yourselves away inside the lush grounds or spill onto the famous Seven Mile Beach where snorkeling, beach walking, sand castle building can engulf the day. The hotel’s Cousteau-inspired Ambassadors of the Environment program offers more than 40 three-hour learning programs each week, designed to send family members home with a greater understanding of the islands as well the interconnectedness of the natural world . Contact: 800-241-3333; www.ritzcarlton.com/grandcayman
Bitter End Yacht Club. Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Are there Jack Sparrow fans in your clan? This haven for sea-loving sailors and beach-goers is known for a plethora of harbors and cays that once served as refuge for Blackbeard and other sword-bearing swashbucklers. Their fanciful stories still abound. Your family will also enjoy sailing and other kid’s camp activities, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, yoga classes, fishing and spa services. Contact: 800-872-2382; www.BEYC.com. (Recovering from hurricane damage.)
Atlantis Resort. Paradise Island, Bahamas.
With more than 140 acres of lazy-river rides, 18 adrenaline pumping slides and 11 pools, the kids may never dry off. Swim with the dolphins, join yoga and family fitness classes on the beach, and make arts and crafts. Check out The Dig, inspired by the legend of Atlantis, where an underground maze mixes tales of mysterious royal treasure with live eels and piranhas. Teens will love the swanky 14,000 square foot nightclub Crush. Contact: 1-888-877-7525; www.Atlantis.com.
Curtain Bluff Resort, Antigua, West Indies.
Visit this laid back, but luxurious, family-owned resort for an all-inclusive experience that offers extensive water sports including water skiing, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, paddle-boating, tennis, yoga, and sailing. As the kids burn off energy post another delicious meal, relax in a hammock you’ll find tucked within the palm trees. Spend an afternoon at the spa where open air massages provide a perfect end to sports-filled day. Contact: 888-289-9898; www.CurtainBluff.com.
Hilton Head Island, SC
Miles of bike trails, parasailing, plenty of golf, tennis and of course 12 miles of great beaches make this barrier island a popular destination for families. Scope out the blue herons or spot dolphins on the horizon. Contact: www.HiltonHead.org.
Club Med Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
If your kids (or you for that matter) have dreams of joining the circus, this seaside, all-inclusive resort is for you. Kids fly through the air on a swinging trapeze, learn juggling, acrobatics and other circus tricks and then provide a demonstration for the family at week’s end. A picturesque beach and extensive programs for kids from babies to teens, make this resort a great choice for active families. Contact: 1-888-932-2582; www.ClubMed.us.
One of our family favorites, the long, wide stretch of sand is home to the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, which provides easy access to the water and a host of sea side activities. Get out your boogie board, take surfing lessons or watch Navy seamen from the nearby base train along the beach. Contact: www.beachcalifornia.com/coronado
Assateague Island, MD
Assateague Island, home to Maryland’s only ocean State Park, is a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Sinepuxent Bay. Two miles of ocean beaches offer swimming, beachcombing, surfing and fishing. On the bay side explore secluded coves by canoe or kayak. Check out the marsh areas for a variety of wildlife including the famous feral horses. Contact: http://www.atbeach.com/mdstpark/index.asp
Swim in the still waters of Nantucket Sound on the north side of the island or choose the Atlantic beaches on the south shore. Once a booming port, Nantucket is picturesque, historic and awash in the whaling lore that provides much of its current character. Still pristine, nearly 40 percent of the island is protected conservation land. This is an ideal spot for a relaxing family beach vacation. Contact: www. www.nantucketchamber.org
South Walton Beach, Fla.
Here 26 miles of sugar white sand beaches provide the perfect home base for relaxation or fun for the active family. More than 40 percent of the area is preserved through state parks and forests, creating an ideal place to hike, bike, kayak and fish. Contact: www.beachesofsouthwalton.com.
Ready to relax? Maybe unplug?
Visit this laid back, but luxurious, family-owned resort in Antigua for an all-inclusive experience that includes extensive water sports including water skiing, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, paddle-boating, tennis, yoga, and sailing.
As the kids burn off energy after another delicious meal, relax in a hammock you’ll find tucked within the palm trees. Spend an afternoon at the spa where open air massages provide a perfect end to a sports-filled day.
Mothers and daughters deserve time away from the fray.
Here are five places where the girls can just have fun:
Mothers and daughters can tee it up on a spectacular course, ranked as one of the country’s top ten. Also noted as a “women friendly” course, the golf club at The Boulders Resort in Carefree, AZ offers a picturesque desert environment in which to work on your game together. The Fore Ladies program begins on a Friday evening with a short game intro provided by an LPGA instructor. The remainder of the weekend includes further instruction on full-swing, putting and course etiquette followed by nine holes of golf on the Jay Moorish-designed course each day. Later, relax in the Resort’s full-service Golden Door Spa or by the pool.
Contact: 480-488-9028; 866-397-6520; www.TheBoulders.com.
Marine loving moms and daughters will want to take advantage of the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa’s Dolphin Tale Package. Expect two tickets to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of Winter, the now famous dolphin whose inspirational story was turned into a book and film, a cool tote bag, and a copy of the book “Winter’s Tale”. Later, head to the beach or relax in your room where a full kitchen, an outdoor balcony and sea side view make sharing time together extra special. Your stay helps fund the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s program to help feed and care for winter and her friends.
Contact: 1-800-233-1234; www.clearwaterbeach.hyatt.com.
St. John, British Virgin Islands.
Gather the girls and test your sea-faring skills in an Island Hopping Scavenger Hunt. With your very own Boating Butler as your secret weapon, you’ll learn about the regional island geography and wildlife as you cruise through the pristine waters of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. While at the resort, check out the Westin Kids Club and newly opened Teen Center. Available now through December 31, 2012. at Contact: (340) 714-6070; www.westinresortstjohn.com
Ojai, CA. A family favorite, this elegant resort has welcomed guests since the 1920s. Located in the shadow of the Topa Topa Mountain range in the eclectic town of Ojai, the Five Diamond Ojai Valley Inn & Spa has much to offer mothers and daughters seeking time together. The artistic pair will enjoy a day spent in the Artist Cottage where the Artist in Residence can assist adults and children of all ages in the pursuit of creativity. Explore silk scarf painting, collage and mobile making, drawing, water color and mixed media. Ask about packages.
Contact: (855) 697-8780; www.ojairesort.com
Yoga and Surfing South of the Border.
Join award-winning outfitter Mountain Travel Sobek for seaside yoga, massages, horseback riding, snorkeling and surfing in Todos Santos, MX, a charming artist colony brimming with galleries and unique dining opportunities. Or head to the beaches of Mexico and Costa Rica with Three Jewels Retreats for an upscale approach to yoga, surf lessons, stand up paddle boarding, dining on locally-sourced meals and afternoon siestas. Contact: MtnSobek.com; www.ThreeJewelsRetreats.com
Beverly Hills, CA. Good news for the girls: The Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills and illustrious home of the Golden Globe Awards, has just launched a girls getaway package.
How can we resist?
The ladies are escorted to their penthouse suite where chocolate covered strawberries and champagne await their arrival. Complete with a direct private line to the concierge, the days are filled with options: a private luxury transfer to Rodeo Drive to pick up any must-haves; a day at the iconic Aqua Star Pool in one of the exquisite poolside cabanas with a fresh fruit platter, a Beverly Hilton private label sun care kit, magazines, facial mister and mojitos for all; and a round of treatments in the AQUA STAR SPA at The Beverly Hilton. Contact: www.beverlyhilton.com/ or call Beverly Hilton VIP Reservations at 310.285.1306 .
Get close to creatures of the sea for a wild family adventure. Here are five 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
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 his recent 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: 800-762-7770www.lodgeattiburon.com.
Introduce your young children to the world of adventure travel.
Here are a few great places to get started:
Appalachian Mountain Club Adventures. New England.
Beginning at age five, kids can participate in pond studies, GPS treasure hunts, forest ecology lessons, and wildlife watching and tracking activities. It is all part of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s family camp and adventure programs. In beautiful outdoor settings in New Hampshire and Maine, the whole family will learn outdoor skills and safety tips. Also, participate in flat water canoeing, nature walks and even a day hike to a backcountry hut. Spend the night in a bunk room or your family’s own private quarters. Contact: (603)466-2727; www.outdoors.org/adventure_camps.
Wild West Train Ride. Horseshoe Bend, ID.
Add a little zest to a first train ride when you book Thunder Mountain Line’s Wild West Train Robbery ride through southwest Idaho. As the story goes, a sneaky con-man and his sidekicks set out to steal a chest of gold as it is transported on the rails. The US Cavalry is on board for protection, but passengers, young and old, experience the adventure, drama and suspense as the tale unfolds during the 3.5 hour round trip excursion. Available selected dates, July through November. Contact: 208-331-1184 www.thundermountainline.com/wildwest11.htm
Windjammer Landing Resort. St Lucia.
Children under six and their older family members can choose from a range of soft adventure opportunities while staying at this Caribbean island resort. Hop aboard for a banana boat ride, play on the floating trampoline or check out the inflatable climbing wall. Learn to snorkel or try a guided SNUBA experience, a kid-sized, first step toward learning to Scuba dive. Experience sailing on a Hobie Cat. Then visit a nearby volcano or take a rainforest tour. Contact: 1 (877)522-0722; www.windjammer-landing.com.
Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole, WY.
Park your family within exploring distance of Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger Teton National Forest, the National Elk Refuge and Yellowstone National Park. In this ideal Rocky Mountain setting for first time adventure, young nature lovers will enjoy scenic float trips, horseback riding, wall climbing and some of the most majestic scenery available within our nation’s boundaries. The resort’s resident wildlife biologist is on hand to answer questions. Ask about the National Parks Explorer package, designed to maximize your time in the area.
Contact: 1 (307) 732-5000; www.fourseasons.com/jacksonhole
Costa Rican Adventure.
Explore the rainforest with your junior adventurers where they will delight at spotting monkeys and sloths, plus color-rich birds and butterflies. Plan for easy walks through national parks and kid-friendly rafting on the Rio Penas Blancas. Learn about volcanoes and later explore tide pools and build sand castles at the beach. Sail and snorkel in the Gulf of Papagayo and scope for whales, dolphins, turtles, and rays.
Photo: Copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes. Yellowstone National Park, June 2011
Explore our underwater world during a family dive vacation. Here are great places to consider:
1. Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros Island, Bahamas.
Check into one of this family-run resort’s 21 cottages and prepare to explore, relax and enjoy a special holiday. Young children can begin by participating in the young naturalist program before moving on to shoreline snorkeling lessons, a snorkel reef trip and then on to SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) Diving. The latter enables kids 7-9 to experience the underwater world wearing a small tank and other dive gear. At age ten, the Discover Scuba program is available for those interested in pursuing the next level. The resort’s on site dive staff will provide scuba lessons for one or more. The all inclusive resort offers complimentary babysitting from six until nine pm. Contact: 800-223-6961; www. SmallHope.com.
2. Florida Keys.
Explore the only living coral reef system in the continental United States during a visit to this scenic South Florida region. For kids eight and older: the Summer Marine Science Camp at Pigeon Key, an historic site 100 miles southwest of Miami, offers programs that include information about reef fish, coral reef systems, underwater photography and the gathering of specimens. Kids can get scuba certification during a camp session or brush up if already certified. Also included: underwater obstacle courses, volleyball, and snorkeling. Also in the region: the Wreck Trek Passport Program," spotlighting the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail, where certified divers can explore a string of sunken vessels and artificial reefs with local dive instructors. Contact: 305-289-0025; www.PigeonKey.com; www.Fla-Keys.com/diving.
3. 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.
4. Grand Wailea, Maui.
For families who choose to blend a luxury resort holiday with a scuba experience, this hotel fits the bill. Give the sport a try by joining instructors twice daily in the comfort of Hawaii’s only specially designed scuba pool. Interested in learning more? Certification classes are offered at every level. Once the instruction is complete, escorted ocean dives are available. Meanwhile, families can enjoy the super-cool pool on the property, an expansive beach ,as well as a spa and numerous family-focused resort programs. Contact: 808-875-1234; www.GrandWailea.com.
5. Harbour Village, Bonaire.
Children ages five to 12 can join the Kid’s Great Adventure program at this Caribbean resort. They will learn about the Bonaire Marine Park, snorkel, ID fish, and get comfortable with the SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) program, a wonderful precursor to SCUBA. Children eight and over can take part in the PADI Bubblemaker program, which enables young enthusiasts to breathe with a regulator in shallow ocean water. At ten, kids can earn their Junior Scuba Certification. From now through December 16, 2011 the second diver in your party dives free when you book the Dive Into Luxury Package. Children under 16 stay free in the room with their parents. Contact: 1-800-424-0004; www.harbourvillage.com.
Eco-inspired families are trading in their rental cars for the chance to tour their vacation destinations from the seat of a bike. This energy savvy transportation mode not only saves dollars but adds a healthy fitness component to any holiday outing.
Here are 15 places where you can cruise with confidence:
Portland, Ore – This super-bike friendly city is widely recognized as being a two- wheel trend setter. Get to know the City of Roses by taking advantage of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco’s Carless Vacation package. You’ll arrive from the airport via free light rail passes and then embark on an historic city tour led by Pedal Bicycle Tours. The Green Seal certified hotel offers complimentary bikes. Contact: 1-503- 222-0001; www.monaco-portland.com.
San Diego, CA – Cruise along the flat and car-free pathways of Mission Beach or take in the scenic views on Coronado Island, along San Diego Bay or in the Gaslamp District. Whether you have young children or older kids looking for a mountain bike adventure, this seaside SoCal destination is a biker’s paradise. Contact: 1-866-425-2925; www.hikebikekayak.com.
Lake Placid, NY- Enjoy wooded trails and scenic byways between villages in the Adirondack region of northern New York State. With a treasure trove of outdoor recreational opportunities and stunning mountain vistas, you and your family will enjoy the views from the seat of your bikes. Choose a rugged mountain bike, a road bike or tandems and be sure to bring plenty of water. Contact: www.PlacidPlanetBicycles.com; 518-523-4128
Chicago, IL – Get off the tourist beat and on to the quiet neighborhood streets, city parks and beautiful beaches that keep Windy City residents happy and eager to become the nation’s most bike friendly city by 2015. Or hop on a cruiser for tours that include a glimpse of Oprah’s house, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Old Town Historic District and the Lakefront. There are wheel-based options for family members of all ages and fitness levels. Contact: 1-312- 915-0995; www.bobbysbikehike.com
Tallahassee, FL - Follow the abandoned rail bed of the historic Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad to the town of St. Marks and the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers. The Florida State Park Service maintains the 19-mile paved trail, deemed accessible for family members of all ages and abilities. Contact: 1-850-224-7461; www.greatbicycle.com.
Summer Remix. Keystone, CO. This Rocky Mountain resort offers guests year round fun. During the spring and early summer, get ready for mountain biking, along with snow tubing, a terrain park for snowboarders and skiers, and an open rail jam event. Families can also look forward to snow cones, face painting and family-style dining in River Run. Or, head to higher ground and enjoy a meal at 11,640 feet where the Summit House offers a full menu. From Memorial Day through the summer, weather permitting. Contact: 877-204-7889; www.keystoneresort.com.
River Dance Lodge. Coeur d'Alene, ID With the cozy River Dance Lodge as your base camp, hop on disc-brake Marin bikes and explore miles of national forest where you’ll find pathways suitable for every age group and skill level. Experienced riders may choose to take on the Coolwater Ridge Trail. Get ready for a thrill ride during which you’ll descend 1500 feet in just seven miles. Later float the nearby river or spend the afternoon hiking the hillsides. Ask about summer specials. Contact: 208-765-0841 ;www.riverdancelodge.com/Summer-Idaho-Vacations
Finger Lakes. Central New York. Spin aside the crystal clear water, that, along with the Erie Canal and Lake Ontario, provide for outdoor adventure and breathtaking views. Named for the eleven pristine lakes that spread like fingers across central New York, the Finger Lakes provide 9,000 square miles of outdoor adventure where bike paths are plentiful. Don’t miss Letchworth State Park, known as the “the Grand Canyon of the east.” There the Taughannock Falls features a breathtaking 215 foot drop, making it larger than Niagara Falls. Biking maps and suggested itineraries are available. Contact: www.fingerlakes.org/things-to-do/outdoor-fun/hike-and-bike.
The Homestead Resort. Hot Springs, Virginia. Active families looking for a getaway will enjoy the Unlimited Activities package at this iconic resort. In addition to mountain biking, expend energy kayaking, canoeing, gorge hiking, horseback riding, fly fishing and skeet shooting in the beautiful countryside.
NorthstarResort. Near the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. Choose from among more than 100 miles of trails for downhill and cross-country mountain bikers providing great views of the surrounding mountain vistas. Cycling fans might want to plan their getaway to enjoy the annual Tour de Nez. Modeled after legendary European Kermesse races, which incorporate professional cycling into 100-year-old festivals, the spectator-friendly Tour de Nez has grown to be an important stop on the professional cycling circuit and a fan favorite. Check the web site for dates. Contact: www.NorthstarAtTahoe.com.
Brac Reef Resort. Cayman Brac. Take a break from your dive holiday at this all-inclusive resort and explore the island on two wheels. You’ll see herons and other exotic sea birds, have the chance to explore caves or stop to check out the amazing sunsets, or other sandy beach spots. Bike rentals are complimentary. Contact: www.BracReef.com.
Block Island, Rhode Island. Relish ocean views that rival Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket but enjoy the laid back vibe of this scenic wonder that somehow stays under the radar as a tourism destination. Mostly flat, smooth, paved roads make it possible for two-wheeling tourists to enjoy this wonderland the Nature Conservancy deems one of the “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere. You’ll also enjoy fresh seafood, walking on crescent beaches and learning about the local history. Contact: (877) 545-1864; www.GreatFreedomAdventures.com
Global Biking. Join the growing number of active families choosing international, self-guided bike trips. Itineraries include cruising the coast of Turkey or checking out the castles of the Loire Valley. A good choice for clans interested in a less scripted and lower-priced adventure, travelers can still expect luggage transfers, lodging and some meals to be included in the trip price. The Colorado-based, family-owned company offers global cycling tours in more than 20 countries on five continents. Ask about discounts and specific trip recommendations for children. Contact: 1-800-685-4565; www.ExperiencePlus.com.
Spokane, WA. Go with a guide or chart your own course as you explore the rail-trails of eastern Washington, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and on to the Montana border. Level, paved and pristine pathways make for stress-free but scenic family cycling. Up the adventure quotient by mixing in a day kayaking, rafting or fishing on local rivers. Stop by a hot spring or consider a side hike. Contact: 800-451-6034; www.silverbiketours.com; www.VisitIdaho.org.
Tuscan Family Biking. Meet a four-legged truffle detective. Savor gelato in San Gimignano. Look forward to olive oil, fine wine and feasting on homemade pizza as you pedal through Tuscany with your family. Cruise past vineyards, cypress trees and iconic landmarks that make working your way up to the scenic hill towns worth every rotation. Savor a gourmet picnic on a working farm. Visit charming villages, take watercolor lessons and steep yourselves in Italian art history. This is how memories are made. Contact: 800-462-2848; www.Backroads.com
Resource: Reserve quality, family-friendly bikes and accessories in more than dozens of North American cities through www.Rentabikenow.com.
This page is brought to you by Pride of Maui offering fun-filled, action-packed snorkeling/sailing trips to Maui's Molokini.
Snorkeling is a great way to explore the beauty of our underwater world.
Here are six places the family can learn about coral reefs, colorful fish and more:
Take a break from work, school and routine. Add a healthy dose of sunshine or snow, or better yet, both, as a quick-fix remedy for those eager to explore. Here are eight great ways to recharge.
Road Trip. If you’d like to cover some country with your kids consider teaming up with the folks at Tracks & Trails. They create custom, self-drive RV vacation packages that take the guess work out of an adventure-filled road trip. Specializing in the western U.S. and Canada as well as Florida, these travel pros make all the National Park and activity reservations and chart your itinerary from start to finish. You’ll receive your own “Adventure Kit” chock full of detailed maps and travel tips as well as suggested family-friendly hikes, points of interest and outings along your route.
Contact: (800) 247-0970; www.tracks-trails.com
Volunteer in the Virgin Islands. Give back during your beach holiday and receive a $100 resort credit. Stay at the Westin St. John Resort & Villas and everyone benefits when you join the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park for a day of beach cleaning and trail maintenance. Junior guests receive a free sports bottle or tippy cup when checking in to the resort. Later the containers will be filled with free beverages. The Westin Kids Club also offers a full range of outdoor activities as well as arts and crafts and movies. Teens have their own special place to convene, a 1,200 square foot Teen Center where young people can make plans to enjoy water sports, watch movies or play volley ball on the beach.
Contact: 888.627.7206; www.westinresortstjohn.com
Barbados Bound. With 3000 hours of sunshine each year and an average temperature in the mid-80s, sun-seeking families will find plenty to smile about when visiting this 166 square mile destination in the Caribbean. Expect history, culture, food, music, beautiful beaches and the chance to see Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles. Book the Take me to Barbados package and receive one free when staying for five nights. Also, children 16 and under stay and eat free at participating hotels. This and other value-added packages are available through travel agents. American Airlines has nonstop service from Dallas-Fort Worth to Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Beech Mountain, NC. Visit “Eastern America’s Highest Town” . The resort, which rests at 5,500 feet, offers 13 runs and two terrain parks on 95 acres, as well as views of four different states. If slope-side skiing or snowboarding wear out the younger bunch, head to the free youth sledding hill, sponsored by the Town of Beech Mountain for the benefit of those 12 and under. Check out the tubing park and the 7,000 square foot ice skating rink for more winter weather fun. Receive two free lift passes with a three night stay. Some restrictions apply. In summer, hike, bike and enjoy the natural beauty.
South Beach, FL. After a full day splashing in the surf, what could be more fun than building a tented fort in your hotel room? Loews provides extra in-room sheets plus flashlights so kids can get creative once they’ve emptied the sand from their shoes. As part of their Sundown Survival Kit for Kids, junior guests can also take advantage of movies and enjoy a milk and cookie nightcap. Youngsters will also want to visit SoBe Scoops, a retro ice cream parlor, decked out in vintage style and offering old-time favorites like rock candy, candied apples and crème soda. Kids can invite their parents to join them at SushiSkool, where the whole family can learn how to roll sushi and maneuver chopsticks. The resort also offers camps for kids of all ages, healthy menus and swanky Kidbanas by the pool. Pets are welcome too.
Contact: 1-800-235-6397; www.loewshotels.com/en/Miami-Beach-Hotel
Aruban Holiday. Enjoy family travel specials at this all-inclusive resort where meals, snacks, resort activities and the Kids Club are all included in your rate. The whole clan will also enjoy an Aruban Beach Party featuring live entertainment, festive music and local food. Enjoy snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, tennis, pool play or building sand castles on the white sand beach.
Contact: 1-800-858-2258; www.occidentalhotels.com/grand/Aruba.asp
Big Bear Mountain. Southern California’s Big Bear Mountain sees plenty of the big white flakes during the winter season, bringing smiles to the faces of skiers and snowboarders who always want to make tracks during the snowy season. During the off years, the resort has top notch snowmaking systems providing quality snow for thousands of skiers and snowboarders in the region. Who knew you could enjoy mountain life just two hours from Downtown Los Angeles?
Contact: 909.866.5766; www.bigbearmountainresorts.com
Limelight Lodge, Aspen, CO. Join your college-aged kids and take part in the Limelight Lodge’s Insider Tracks tours, designed for experiences skiers. Professional adventure specialists will show those with intermediate to advanced ski or board skills, the local take on the four mountains that make up Aspen and Snowmass. Participants will find the best powder and the secret chutes along with tips on how to make the most of a day on these famed Rocky Mountain slopes. Back at the lodge, enjoy homemade granola, a soak in the hot tub, a family dinner and the use of multi-lingual computer stations. Ask about the Ski Free package which includes up to two lift tickets per day in the room rate. Pets are welcome. During the summer months, hike into the hills, stroll through town, catch the latest at local museums, check out the mountain biking trails and be on the look out for Hollywood stars who like to relax in the mountains just like you.
Contact: 1- 800-433-0832; www.LimelightLodge.com