At home with the kids?
If we can’t travel to a favorite hotel, resort, restaurant or ranch, we can always pretend.
Here are five ways to create a virtual vacation in your own home.
Whether you set up a tent in the backyard or the bedroom, with a little imagination you can enjoy all the fun of a real camping trip without spending travel time! Create a campfire using flashlights under a towel or thin blanket. Listen to the sounds of your own backyard or create an alternate sound track featuring birds, waterfalls, streams or trees rustling via a music or meditation app. Tell stories around your campfire, sample s’mores, sing songs and plan for your next adventure.
Pro Tip: REI offers advice for introducing kids to the outdoors through camping in your own yard and beyond.
Enjoy a Spa Day. (Or Week)
Channel the services of a famous resort spa and pamper yourselves at home. Give family members the chance to reserve a manicure, masque, foot or head massage, a salt or sugar scrub, a relaxing soak or whichever services your creative minds concoct. Craft a soothing play list via your favorite music app, gather candles and supplies from your own beauty stash, your kitchen and you’re good to go!
The Arawak Spa, at Belmond Cap Juluca on the Caribbean island of Anguilla recommends a detoxifying soak to ease the tension of these stressful times.
Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. If possible, crush or grind the tea leaves to open up natural oils in the plant and allow it to mix well with the salts. Once combined, run a hot bath and add 3 tablespoons of the mixture to the water. Soak in the tub for 15 minutes.
The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe suggests this post-winter scrub which makes use of pine needles reported to be both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
Take turns playing Executive Chef and encourage every member of the family to play a role. Plan for various theme nights that might include an island luau, a ranch cook-out, mountain meadow picnic fare, a safari sundowner or a Mexican fiesta. Encourage the kids to make their own menus, placemats and other décor. Choose music to suit the “destination”.
Pro Tip: &BEYOND’s Wildchild Hub offers recipes, reading and activities to bring Africa home to your children.
4. Host a Happy Hour.
Don’t let social distancing requirements keep you from staying in touch (virtually) with family and friends. Plan a “happy hour” video call and encourage the group to join you in a toast to future family travels.
Pro tip: Serve a kid-friendly mocktail like the one offered by restaurant ZuZu in Scottsdale, AZ’s Hotel Valley Ho.
4 oz. blood orange juice
6 fresh raspberries
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3 oz. LaCroix grapefruit sparkling water
Combine the blood orange juice (regular orange juice also works well with this recipe if blood oranges are not available), simple syrup, and raspberries in a shaker, then muddle. Strain and pour into a glass; top with LaCroix and garnish with an orange slice and a raspberry.
The Morning Dew Mocktail
Fill rocks glass with ice and stir. Add cranberry juice and mint and basil simple syrup into a cocktail mixer. Shake and strain into the rocks glass. Top with soda water, and add mint leaf and cranberries to garnish.
5. Your Fitness Center
Take turns leading a yoga or Pilates class. Choose from a wide variety of exercise classes available online. Venture out for a fitness walk.
Consider taking the kids on a “bear hunt”, by walking through your neighborhood in search of teddy bears placed in the windows of neighboring homes. The idea of creating window-based scenes using teddy bears and rainbows, is spreading around the world. If it hasn’t reached your area, perhaps you and your family can help expand the trend. #BearHunt.
Pro Tip: Tara Cruz, Senior Spa Director at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown recommends starting each day with simple stretches, breathing exercises and positive thoughts to stay healthy during challenging times.
For now, we can be armchair travelers.
We can dream, imagine and plan. Here are five places where beautiful scenery, wide open spaces and compelling adventures await.
One of the least populated countries in the world, Namibia begs to be explored. From the capital city of Windhoek to the stark Skeleton Coast, you’ll find a timeless landscape where desert-adapted wildlife – elephants, lions and the rare, black rhino – share the vast landscape with birds, antelopes, cape foxes and brown hyenas. Drive through barren moonscapes and search for small herds of Hartmann’s zebras or find pink flamingos and other migratory birds in a coastal wetland. Hike up Namibia’s highest ochre-colored sand dune and watch the sunset before slip-sliding down. Few people and sparse development translate into a magnificent display of stars. Don’t forget to look up.
Discover the Wonders of Palau
This Pacific archipelago, made up of 500 islands is one of the richest ecosystems on the planet, and home to more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral. During your visit to this aquatic wonderland you can paddle and snorkel amid the multi-colored brain coral of the Rock Islands, which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Hike to waterfalls, dive amid sharks, giant manta rays, turtles and bright blue starfish, and kayak in caves, through mangroves and to hidden lagoons. History lovers will find the WWII heritage compelling.
Adventure in Alaska.
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 by road and rail, 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. In the short term, visit the state’s inspirational website to order your free travel planning guide.
Saddle up at the Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, Mont.
Just a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park’s northwest border, in the shadow of Lone Peak, you’ll find a cluster of hand-built cabins. Authentic and luxurious, the historic accommodations, tucked creekside, in the pine trees or in meadows, help visitors conjure the days when the property was a working cattle ranch, operating in untamed country. Then, like now, the region is home to stunning vistas, and abundant wildlife including grizzlies, black bears, bison and wolves. In the company of guides or on your own, adventurers have the chance to fish Blue Ribbon trout streams and explore the last best place via horseback, Nordic and downhill skis, snowshoes and on the many hiking trails in the area.
Explore the North Shore from Grand Marais, Minn.
Located on the shores of Lake Superior, this friendly, harborside village blends an artistic, creative vibe with an adventurous spirit. Home to nationally renowned artist schools and galleries, Grand Marais also serves as the gateway to the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Hike Pincushion Mountain, set sail on Superior or bike along the shoreline. Plan a side trip down the 57-mile, historic Gunflint Trail, from which you’ll have the option to paddle across glacier-carved lakes, hike through ancient forests, fish for Walleye and sample Northwoods hospitality.
Traveling with teens can be a challenge. They want independence and space from you, and you want to spend quality family time and get them to explore the world. But it can be done, and well.
- First of all, get them interested upfront by involving them in trip planning so they have a say in what your destinations and activities will be.
- Second, expand the possibilities. Some activities you might think of as adults-only affairs can be tailored for teens, like going to a spa.
- Third, remember that it’s always hard to spend all day long with the same people for multiple days in a row. Be prepared to give your teens (and yourself) breaks from the family, either between activities or built into the activities themselves.
Here are some things to do and places to go on vacation that can be as fun for your teenagers as they are for you.
You can stretch out on a towel while your teen uses all that energy they have exploring the water and the shore. Beach trips offer amazing scenery that can get teens interested in the planet and curious about landscapes they may not have seen before. A stay at the beach offers opportunities to experiment with activities, too. Beaches are also a natural place for teens to socialize, so they get some time away from the family during the vacation.
Beach activities are some of the healthiest, both physically and mentally. Surfing with teenagers is not only fun, but it requires mental focus and teaches them to be resilient and try again each time they fall. Windsurfing, boogie boarding, and even paddle boarding can have similar effects on their minds and bodies. Doing activities like this on vacation may just leave your teen with a new interest in a sport that will stick with them for a long time.
National Park Hike
You don’t need to leave the country to have an epic vacation. The US has some fantastic national parks to explore, and many trails are family-friendly. You might have more success if you let your teen go at their own pace instead of insisting you stick together the whole time—just plan for regular check-in breaks. But walking through the woods can also be a great time to have deeper conversations that might not happen at home.
What better setting to give your teenager all the freedom they want while not worrying too much about them than a big ship? Cruises tend to be all-inclusive, which means it’s easy to say yes to the food and activities teens might want to have or do without worrying about your trip budget. And while a cruise might bring to mind a trip with your parents before one with your kids, there are cruise lines that cater specifically to families with teenagers. Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas, for instance, has zip lines, laser tag, and a teens club. You can also opt for an itinerary that stops at CoCo Cay, the cruiseline's private island.
If you’re physically active, consider a bike tour with your teen. This is a different way to sight-see that also keeps you active and energized throughout the day. Different age groups have different needs, and touring companies will put together packages specifically for families with teens, like these bike trip options throughout Europe.
Like cruises, all-inclusive resorts package lodging, food, and activities into one deal so you know what to budget for upfront. Many offer a range of activities your teen can try (with or without you) and parties and movies at night. There are great options throughout Central America and the Caribbean.
Traveling with teens can be a smooth and fun process if you go about it the right way. Take their interests into account and make sure there’s plenty for them to do, and you might be pleasantly surprised by how much quality time you get to spend with them. - - Morgen Henderson.
Discover a new waterfront where your family can enjoy fresh air, tasty food and each other’s good company. Here are seven places to consider:
Head to the end of Long Island, just beyond the famed Hamptons, for a relaxed experience in a beachy enclave where fishermen, surfers, urban hipsters and families easily mix in the salty air. Stroll along the docks to witness (and later sample) the arrival of the day's fresh catch, as tony yachts and the occasional sightseeing boat, spouting the area's seafaring history, inch into the harbor. Stay at the historic Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina, where all things nautical will serve as your holiday backdrop. A children's playground, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and fishing expeditions provide plenty of opportunity for family fun. Head to the wide stretch of Atlantic Ocean beach a few miles away where you can watch surfers take on the world-famous wave action. Stop in to the Sloppy Tuna’s roof top deck, just steps from the sand, for a beverage, a lobster roll and one of the best views around.
Contact: www.discoverlongisland.com; www.GurneysResorts.com
Grand Marais, Minn.
Located on the shores of Lake Superior, this friendly, harborside village blends an artistic, creative vibe with an adventurous spirit. Home to nationally renowned artist schools and galleries, Grand Marais also serves as the gateway to the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Hike Pincushion Mountain, set sail on Superior or bike along the shoreline. Plan a side trip down the historic Gunflint Trail where you’ll have the option to paddle across glacier-carved lakes, hike through ancient forests, fish for Walleye and sample Northwoods hospitality.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter, Ind.
Geocaching is a favorite activity of families who choose to explore this 15,000-acre Midwestern lakeshore. Be on the lookout for the rare Karner blue butterfly. Climb over dunes, along rivers and through wetlands as you choose from 50 miles of meandering trails where 1,100 native plants flourish. Take the Succession trail to the top of a dune for a view of the Chicago skyline. Kayak via the Lake Michigan Water Trail or claim your spot along the 15-mile stretch of sandy beach.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Decades ago, this spirited Maryland city bolstered a movement to transform industrial waterfronts into tourist meccas where restaurants, shops and appealing attractions would soon energize the local economy. Today, visitors flock to the Inner Harbor, which serves the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the U.S., bordered by the Susquehanna River on the north and the Atlantic Ocean on the south. Family travel plans often include a visit to the National Aquarium, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and feasting on the region's famous blue crabs, oysters and clams.
Contact: www.visitmaryland.org; www.baltimore.org; www.aqua.org
Half Moon Bay, Calif.
This small enclave is an ideal spot for a relaxing coastal getaway. Sample Dungeness crab and other seafood offered by local fishermen. Visit the historic main street for shopping, galleries and restaurants where nearby farms showcase their fresh offerings. The state's magnificent redwood forest is a short drive away. There, you and your family can hike and picnic under the canopy of awe-inspiring trees. Stay in small seaside inns or more luxurious cliffside digs.
Facing the Inside Passage on the state's southeastern coast, this rugged frontier town welcomes visitors from cruise ships as well as other adventurers, eager to hear tales of the gold rush and to observe local wildlife. Visit the Tongass Historical Museum, the Totem Heritage Center and the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center to learn about the area's earliest residents -- the native Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. Ketchikan is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world, many of which are scattered throughout town.
Founded in 1670, this Southern city and its scenic harbor provide an appealing blend of old and new. Cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and stories of Civil War-era prominence, beckon history lovers. Meanwhile, a burgeoning food scene, stunning beaches, nearby plantations, a top-notch aquarium and hip hotels nudge families to experience both. The Waterfront Park offers an ideal place to relax after an active day. As colorful sailboats and ocean-worthy ships slip in and out of the harbor, take note of nearby Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War rang out across the water.
Here are five destinations to consider:
The Home Ranch, Clark, Colo.
A visit to this mountain retreat near Steamboat Springs, involves decision making. Will you choose rocking on the porch, listening to the rustle of Aspen leaves, multiple massage sessions or curling up by the stone fireplace with your favorite book while the kids sharpen skills in the corral under the watchful eyes of resident wranglers? (The children and teen programs will keep the youngsters in your group plenty busy.)
Or, you can join the family for fly fishing on a private stretch of the Elk River, (it's Orvis-endorsed) morning hikes, afternoon trail rides, day-long outings into nearby wilderness areas, yoga classes and post-dinner music, barn dances and star gazing. During the winter months, snow shoeing, Nordic and downhill skiing and horseback and sleigh rides are all possible.
You’ll enjoy exceptional cuisine, fine wines and well-deserved slumber in the comfort of cozy lodge rooms or rustic yet well-appointed cabins, tucked within a tree studded landscape. Pack your schedule with active pursuits or relax your week away. Either way, it’s all included.
Westgate River Ranch, River Ranch, Fla.
You'll be just an hour from Orlando but feel a world away when you arrive at the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi. Situated on 1,700 acres of wilderness in Florida's cattle country, the ranch offers a menu of lodging options that include glamping-style tents, lodge rooms and two-bedroom cabins. Opt for horse and pony rides, airboat excursions, miniature golf, nature hikes and zip lining. You'll want to take in the Saturday night rodeo, campfires, cookouts, hayrides and a weekly street party.
Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colo.
Choose your season and relish the peace and tranquility you'll find at this historic ranch. With never-ending views along the Continental Divide, choose from snowshoeing, tubing, cross-country skiing and fat biking in pristine winter conditions. The summer months offer top-notch horseback riding on over 200 miles of trail, cattle drives, hiking and mountain biking for the active members of your family. For those eager to relax, settle in on the porch for a card game, in a meadow or near a crackling fire with a book or puzzle at the ready.
Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, Mont.
Just a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park’s northwest border, in the shadow of Lone Peak, you’ll find a cluster of hand-built cabins. Authentic and luxurious, the historic accommodations, tucked creekside, in the pine trees or in meadows, help visitors conjure the days when the property was a working cattle ranch, operating in untamed country.
Then, like now, the region is home to stunning vistas, and abundant wildlife including grizzlies, black bears, bison and wolves. In the company of guides or on your own, adventurers have the chance to fish Blue Ribbon trout streams and explore the last best place via horseback, Nordic and downhill skis, snowshoes and on the many hiking trails in the area.
White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Ariz.
Family-owned and -operated, this working cattle ranch is known for award-winning service, exceptional riding opportunities and a family-friendly atmosphere. Ride amid towering saguaros and enjoy moonlit bonfires, hay rides, fat tire biking, cowboy entertainment, astronomy shows, Western dance lessons and a weekly rodeo where family members can admire the roping, barrel racing and steer wrestling skills of local wranglers.
NPR celebrates the power of poetry and place with this beautiful crowdsourced poem.
Where I'm From: AMorning Edition Crowdsourced Poem of Remembering
I am from travelers and adventure
from "Be seen, not heard!"
from ritual and plainsong
from England and exile
from mint sauce and lamb.
I am from casseroles and canned tuna
Kennedys and Saturday morning cartoons
I am from Tang in a Daffy Duck glass
from wall phones with mangled cords stretched during private calls in a room too far
I come from popcorn ceilings
dining rooms of glossy mahogany
I am from bed sheets
Draped over our dining room chairs.
from the trees Littering the backyard
The sweet taste of mulberries Staining my fingers red
I'm from big hats under rainbow umbrellas
Buckets of wet sand and unstable castles
I'm from orange and vanilla custard
with a pizza slice the size of your chest
From hot July days and cool summer nights
I am from Sunday night pizza and Monday Night Football
I am from marbles
From empanadas cooking in the street
I am from orchids and mango trees
I am from la torta tres leches and ruana
I am from happy and serious
From hard work and sweat
I'm from grit, respect, and discipline.
from big family reunions and endless laughs.
I am from houses never locked
from the projects in Brooklyn
and dominoes in the park
I am from salsa and the car horns blaring
I am from diners and malls and accents that put an "aw" in coffee.
from silky lingerie and sweat socks, bruised knuckles and scars I gave myself
from longing to be someone, somewhere else.
I am from a mother who was still a girl;
whose beauty kept her shy
I am from dirt and fences
from strength and toughness
I am from ashes flicked into the tray
the despair of divorce
bonds gone unappreciated
eviction and being thrown away
running and begging to stay
I am from a little girl who just needed a break
I am from a time when my mother went to the hospital and never came back;
when my toys were in a box by the curb as we drove away.
I am from singing in the darkness of night
Putting myself to sleep with the sound of my own voice.
I am from playing backyard baseball with tennis balls, Wiffle balls, even roundish gourds.
from weekend sleep-overs
from orange push-ups
from fallen leaves kicked up in swirls on walks to school,
from early morning radio announcements of a snow day — no school!
I am from the South and the North.
from immigrant grandparents and Civil War soldiers.
I am from the red dirt clay of Virginia
From the sounds of the fiddle to the beauty of a choir
From the jig and the reel
to the cloggers and the dancers.
From collard greens and fat back,
chitterlings and white bread
I'm from hymns learned on Sundays,
hypocrisy displayed on Mondays.
I am from Tom Petty
and baby oil in the hot sun
rye bread and salami.
I am from black cows,
tacos, bicycles, and
The gentle lure of crickets.
I am from James Brown and Santana.
from Groovin' on a Sunday Afternoon
and Crystal Blue Persuasion.
I am from endless steps,
from California and Texas, and Durango, Colorado.
From unknown ancestors of the ancient Southwest,
cliff-dwellers and puebloans.
I am from the earth --
from from cityscapes and sleepy suburbs
from cicada clicks and firefly sparks
from the call of books and breathing through struggles.
I am from you
and you are from me
We are love
We are home
We are from this day forward.
Geographic spread, busy careers and hectic school schedules can make planning a vacation challenging. But, carving out time with the people we care about often ranks high on our priority list.
Here are five ways it may work for you and members of your family - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - to gather.
Skip-gen or Gramping
Family life is busy. Remedy: skip-gen or gramping vacations. Parents get a break and grandparents and grandkids get to know each other without the filter of mom or dad on the scene.
Grandparents: why not take the opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge with your grandkids? Are you a World War II veteran? Did you grow up inspired by jazz or classical music? Did the ethnic or rural neighborhood of your youth greatly influence the person you are today? Visit a war memorial, take in a concert or visit the old stomping grounds. It will mean more to hear a bit of history from someone who has been there than what they’ll find in school books.
And, remember, you are part of their history.
Planning ahead to celebrate birthdays, graduations, retirements and anniversaries can be an important touchstone and meaningful part of a family’s legacy. With plenty of advance notice, the odds increase that more family members will be able to take part in the fun. Consider a cruise, a dude ranch or an all-inclusive resort for your gathering. You’ll find a long list of intriguing itineraries and appealing destinations from which to choose. With activities to engage every generation, food choices to suit the pickiest eater (and plenty of volume to satisfy hungry teens) you’re sure to see smiles all around. Separate sleeping quarters provide the privacy and flexibility required for early birds, nappers and night owls.
Rock Star Relatives
Are you an amazing aunt, an unbelievable uncle or a cool cousin? Perhaps your birdlings have flown the nest or your own kids have fur and four legs. Either way, you may want to join the increasing number of relatives choosing to explore the world with youngsters as their trusty travel companions. Share your passion to fish or hike, learn a new skill together or plan a mutually engaging adventure to a National Park or a far-off land. You’re certain to return with a deeper bond and memories to share for a lifetime.
The true value of a family gathering has less to do with boarding a snazzy cruise ship or checking in to a faraway resort. That option might not be in the cards for your crew right now. It’s more about the quality of a shared experience. So, whether you are planning a small gathering in a state park picnic area or a mass meeting of the clan, organization will be key. Gather input regarding a budget, destination and lodging preferences, activities and meal planning. Get a date on the calendar as soon as possible. Communicate well and often. Keep your sense of humor at the ready and be grateful that at least some portion of your family is eager to spend time together.
With relatives spread far and wide, our best friends often become “like family”. Traveling with another crew, particularly one with children of similar ages and interests, can be fun and festive. Still, proper planning can go a long way toward keeping relationships and expectations intact. Family groups often choose to share a ski cabin, beach house, or urban condo. That can mean divvying expenses, transportation, room assignments, cleaning and cooking.
Avoid misunderstandings about how time and resources will be allocated with a clearly defined plan before your holiday gets underway. No matter how much you enjoy your vacation buddies, carve out private time with your own family. You’ll be glad you did.
Take part in a family fly-fishing adventure and you’ll wake up in some of the country’s most pristine places.
Here are a handful of fabulous places to consider:
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
For an extraordinary angling experience, consider an overnight trip on the South Fork of the Snake River. On day one, you’ll hone your skills floating through some of the most coveted water in the western United States.
Later, as the sun sets, arrive at the South Fork Hilton, a fully-outfitted camp ,tucked in the pines with a steep canyon wall as backdrop. The overnight includes a deluxe dinner, tall tales, roasted marshmallows around a campfire, and a good night’s rest in cozy platform tents.
The second day promises stunning scenery, 16 miles of braided waters and the opportunity to expand the adventure wading around gravel bars and up side channels. The trip is ideal for a multigenerational outing.
Stunning scenery, diversity of waterways, plentiful fish and an enthusiastic community of guides combine to make Montana a top notch base camp for your fly-fishing adventure. Spend a day on the Madison River with Joe Dilschneider, owner of Ennis, MT-based TroutStalkers and your family members will go home with more than basic casting skills. You’ll learn to “match the hatch”, fish pocket water from a raft and how to maximize a day on the famed Madison River. A day on the Yellowstone River, a long stretch of blue-ribbon trout habitat or nearby spring creeks will also make for great memories.
Formed by the confluence of the Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison rivers at Three Forks, the mighty Missouri River flows 700 miles across Montana, and is considered one of the most productive trout fisheries in the west.
The small town of Craig is among the numerous launch points from which families explore this storied river. Expect a picturesque landscape, trophy trout and the opportunity to imagine Lewis and Clark navigating the same waters.
Jackson County, North Carolina
With more than 3,000 miles of trout streams and 1,100 miles of hatchery-supported trout waters in the mountains alone, North Carolina is a fly-fishing haven. Home to the nation’s only designated fly-fishing trail, the Western North Carolina Fly-Fishing Trail takes anglers to 15 prime spots in the Great Smoky Mountains to cast a line. Expect a variety of options from wide-open rivers to small, secluded streams. The heart of the trail, the Tuckasegee River, or the “Tuck” as it’s known by locals, is the county’s largest body of water. Designed by two outdoorsmen and fly-fishing guides, the trail is an ideal way for fly-fishers of all skill levels and ages to learn the art of fly-fishing.
Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania
The Letort Spring Creek, Big Spring Creek and Yellow Breeches Creek, two classic limestone spring streams and one freestone stream are considered “hallowed waters” and have enticed fly fishers to the area since the 1800s. Enthusiasts can expect to cast for brook, brown and rainbow in the local streams where a variety of riparian ecosystems provide diverse fly-fishing opportunities. Consider a stay at the Orvis-endorsed Allenberry Resort where fly-fishing packages are offered. The Valley is also home to the Pennsylvania Fly- Fishing Museum.
Sun Valley, Idaho
This mountain town is perhaps best-known for its famous ski slopes. But the region’s gold-medal waters make for yet another reason to nudge Sun Valley higher on your family vacation list. You’ll be on the hunt for rainbow, brown, brook and cutthroat trout on Silver Creek, the Big Lost and the Wood rivers as well as in pristine mountain lakes.
Tap into the town’s vibrant cultural scene or strap on skates for a whirl around the ice rink at the -famed Sun Valley Lodge.
The freedom to explore the world around us is something to savor.
Here are five reasons that family vacations matter:
1. Travel broadens our perspectives.
Whether you travel to the next county or around the world, moving out of your comfort zone or everyday routine will enhance your family’s understanding of our world. Appreciate the language, dress, recreational and culinary differences and similarities of your fellow global citizens when you venture into new territory. Make an effort to see the view through the eyes of others. And observe how a friendly smile is welcome currency in nearly every corner of the world.
2. Travel builds character.
Travel provides parents and grandparents the opportunity to model what matters most. Will you exhibit patience when the line snakes around the corner, your hotel room is not ready or the restaurant server accidentally spills a drink on your table? Delayed flights, weather changes, poor service or a rocky road help all of us learn to live in the moment, share resources, manage unexpected consequences and see the bright side of the occasional travel mishap. How the adults respond to challenging scenarios will influence the developing character of young adventurers.
3. Travel serves up nature’s bounty.
A super moon rising over the mountain tops, eagles lofting in a barren tree, the gentle mist from a nearby waterfall, the crunch of the trail under hiking boots. Awe-inspiring experiences in the natural world are nurturing to the youngest of souls. Make time to travel to nature preserves, national parks, deep canyons and shimmering lakes, where dark skies allow the starry expanse to light your world.
Contact: NPS.gov; WildernessTravel.com; DarkSkies.org
4. Travel is inspiring and educational.
Feed your children’s natural curiosity through travel. Do they yearn to learn more about art, history or science? Is there a burgeoning chef, musician or engineer in your midst? How about a language immersion class? Are your kids curious about other religions, cultures or lifestyles? Whether you opt for magnificent museums, nature’s classroom or immersive experiences, expand their knowledge (and your own) by exploring new ideas together.
Contact: RoadScholars; GlobeAware.org; NationalGeographic.com
5. Travel enhances connection.
Leave the laundry, homework and to-do lists behind and reconnect in a cozy cabin, on a blustery beach or on a small ship at sea. Keep technology and the news of the day to a minimum and enjoy each other’s company and conversation. Take walks in the woods, listen to the birds sing, the owls hoot and the wind whistle. Remind yourselves that the best things in life are free. You’ll return home knowing your time well spent will last longer than the latest gadget or a trendy fashion item. Because time flies, be “glad you did” rather than “wishing you had.”
Historic festivals and cultural celebrations provide expansive experiences of a lifetime for travelers of every age. You'll gain insight into what matters to local communities paired with a bit of history.
Here are several to consider:
While many celebrate a New Year with fireworks and frivolity, the Balinese choose to cleanse the spirit, meditate and bask in silence on Nyepi, or Silent Day.
On Nyepi Eve, observe local villagers as they play music, dance and parade colorful, hand-crafted “monster dolls” through the streets, while encouraging evil spirits to join the party, hoping they will then sleep through Nyepi. During the 24 hours of silence that follows, Bali’s airport, seaports, roads and all businesses are closed, steeping the island in a magical, pristine quiet. Lighting and the use of electricity are kept to a minimum and visitors and resort guests are encouraged to join islanders in a day of relaxation and reflection. It’s an ideal time for journaling, napping, quiet conversation, candle lit dinners and stargazing.
Ease into the day with morning yoga at the Four Season’s Jimbaran Bay’s peaceful, ocean-front pavilion. At the Four Seasons Resort at Sayan guests are invited to join in a meditation under the stars aside the roof-top lotus pond. Nyepi falls according to the lunar-based Balinese calendar and thus changes each year. The next Silent Day is March 25, 2020.
Nadaam Festival, Mongolia.
A sophisticated and elegant expression of nomadic culture, the Nadaam festival is popular among Mongols and believed to have existed for centuries. The core of the festival is comprised of “Danshig games” - wrestling, horse racing and archery - once reserved only for men. Today, women and girls participate in some aspects. With spiritual roots – both shamanist and Buddhist – the festival celebrates cultural identity with art, singing, dancing and ceremonies throughout the region in mid- Summer.
The 137-year old, Celebration of Life, an annual, month-long festival of Polynesian song and dance, gets underway each July. Singers and dance troupes from 118 Tahitian islands gather for an annual competition highlighting ancestral traditions and legends. Live music accompanies the contenders, using traditional instruments like the nasal flute or vivo, marine shells or pu, and more recently, the ukulele. With meaningful choreography and costumes, it’s considered the centerpiece of the festival. Visitors can also take in traditional sports and games based on ancient athletic activities. Expect a stone lifting competition, a javelin- throwing event, va’a (outrigger canoe) races, a copra competition, and a fruit carrying contest.
Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival, Estes Park, CO.
Jousting knights, hoisting athletes and calling bagpipes have been entertaining families for more than three decades in this scenic mountain setting. One of the nation’s largest celebrations of the heritage, sounds, tastes, and the arts of Scottish and Irish cultures gets underway the weekend after Labor Day. You’ll be serenaded by bands - the marching kind, the rocking kind and everything in-between - hailing from Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the United States. Don’t miss the free parade down Main Street, a colorful preview of the festival’s glory. Contact: www.VisitEstesPark.com.
Obon, a matsuri, or Japanese festival, is held each summer to honor the ancestors’ spirits and to welcome
them back for a brief visit with the living. A 500-year-old tradition in Japan, the festival begins as small lanterns are lit to guide the spirits
home. There are offerings of food to nourish the spirits, either at household altars or at food stalls lining the streets. A most memorable
sight is bon odori, the traditional dances that take place around a yagura (raised platform). Thousands wear yukata, a lighter summer
kimono, dancing to the beat of the taiko drums. Many communities in the U.S. celebrate Obon. In California’s Santa Maria Valley, all are welcome for a festival that includes taiko drumming, traditional dancing and bonsai and martial arts demonstrations.
Day of the Dead, Mexico.
One of the world's most lively cultural events, Mexico's Day of the Dead is a tradition that takes place each year from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. The ceremonies are thought to reunite the living with their deceased relatives with food, drink and other festivities. Intrepid's Mexico City:
Day of the Dead Original trip combines culture and history for an immersive 5-day experience in the heart of the Dia de Los Muertos festivities and includes a visit the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan, a chance to witness Day of the Dead ceremonies and to help create a traditional Day of the Dead altar.
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.
Canada, America’s neighbor to the North, offers families a wide range of vacation opportunities. You'll find history, culture and extraordinary natural beauty. And polar bears.
Here are five regions to consider:
Home to super star national parks Banff and Jasper and more than 600 lakes, this massive western province is an outdoor adventurer’s dream destination. As it’s flag advertises, visitors can expect snowy mountains, golden plains, evergreen forests and endless blue skies. All that, plus more than 300 days of sunshine each year, enabling great days on hiking trails and ski slopes.
Canada’s fastest growing city, Calgary, a beneficiary of a cattle and oil boom, offers visitors plenty including the famous Calgary Stampede as well as the Heritage Park Historical Village where period clad staff spin tales of frontier life on the Canadian Prairies. Further north, along the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton serves as the provincial capital and is considered the cultural soul of the region. Expect galleries, theatre, live music and shopping.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Inside Passage. It’s that scenic chain of channels, bays and islands that create Canada’s diverse Pacific coastline. It’s popular with kayakers, whale watchers, birders,boaters and adventurers.
You’ll also want to put the cities of Vancouver and Victoria on your radar. Located on the edge of wilderness, both urban areas offer hip dining with fresh seafood and farm to table offerings as well as and museums of interest to every age group. Don’t miss the scenic drive from Vancouver to the mountain ski town of Whistler via the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Along what is also known as Highway 99, you’ll pass sheer rock faces, waterfalls, fjords, alpine forests and the snow-capped Coast Mountains.
If you yearn to see polar bears in the wild, Churchill, in northern Manitoba is the place to be. Located on the migration route between the bear dens and their feeding grounds, the town is ground zero for those who want the chance to learn about and glimpse the animals in their native environment.
Tundra buggies transport visitors into the vast landscape outside of town to photograph and observe the seal hunters. Helicopter tours are also possible. Slot the destination onto your list for viewing the northern lights and Beluga whale watching in the summer months.
Prince Edward Island
Published in 1908, the novel Anne of Green Gables, has played a major role in drawing tourists to Canada’s smallest province.
Today, literary fans make their way to P.E.I to see the sites portrayed in the book and to learn more about is author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Visit the old farmhouse, where much of the famous novel was set and take part in activities at the Green Gables Heritage Place that include ice-cream making demonstrations, safe races, hiking on nature trails, carriage rides and tours offered by rangers dressed as characters from the book.
This fabled territory, wild, mountainous and sparsely populated, attracts adventuresome souls eager for wide open spaces, outdoor adventure and quirky bits of history.
Make your way to Dawson City, at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, to learn about the gold rush days and the great stampede of treasure seekers who hastened north in search of fortune. Visit the Dawson City Museum and stop by the Robert Service Cabin during the summer months for daily poetry readings. Hiking, fishing, cycling, canoeing and dog sledding are among the popular activities in the region. Contact: www.TravelYukon.com
It’s time to put a family vacation on the calendar.
Here are five ideas to consider:
1. Moab, Utah.
Sample the wonders of red rock country during a four day, multi-sport trip that includes an off-road Hummer Safari through a fantasyland of slick rock and a two day, river rafting adventure with an overnight of pampered beach camping on the banks of the Colorado River. Other nature based itineraries include longer rafting components, jet boating, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, mountain biking, hot air ballooning. rock climbing, canyoneering and horseback riding amid jaw dropping scenery. Many outings are suitable for adventurers as young as five.
2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Visit the all-inclusive Grand Sirenis Punta Cana Resort for bronze colored beaches amid a beautiful coconut grove. Families will appreciate child-focused pools, and a kids club as well as plenty of non-motorized water sporting fun. The whole family will want to explore the onsite ancient Mayan ruin, the nearby nature trails and to discover the wonder of the world’s second largest coral reef system. Book now through May 2 for up to a 20 percent discount on getaways that take place through October 2019.
3. American Prairie Reserve, Montana.
Using an innovative model, The American Prairie Reserve, a Montana-based non-profit, is in the midst of stitching together a 3.5 million-acre nature reserve on the plains of Montana. Once completed, the Reserve
will provide a continuous land area, collaboratively managed for wildlife and recreation. It will be the largest of its kind in the Lower 48 states.
Meanwhile, a campground and cabins, opening in late spring 2019, provide access to hiking, mountain biking, fishing, wildlife watching and night-sky viewing far from city lights. Prices start at $15 for tent camping per night. Contact: www.AmericanPrairie.org.
4. Denver, CO.
If your kids love drawing on your driveway or sidewalk at home you wont want to miss Denver’s 17th Annual Chalk Art Festival. Be there for the free, two-day painting extravaganza during which hundreds of artists contribute their talent to turn the streets of Larimer Square, the Mile High City’s oldest and most historic block, into a colorful outdoor museum.
The festival takes its inspiration from street painting traditions that originated in 16th century Renaissance Italy when artists began transforming asphalt into canvas. June 1-2, 2019.
5. Galapagos Islands.
Cruise through this legendary archipelago aboard a Smart-Voyager-certified catamaran.
Visit Santa Cruz, Santiago, Isabela, Rabida, and San Cristobal islands while on the lookout for blue footed boobies and the other unique species of wildlife that inspired Darwin and contributed to science’s understanding of life.
Explore moon-like lava terrain, walk through lush forests teeming with birdlife, and snorkel in crystal waters where sea lions frolic . Contact: www.Surtrek.com.
In today’s world, a little kindness goes a long way. And research shows that teaching kids to be kind has a positive influence on a slew of academic, health and social outcomes including increased self-esteem, motivation to learn and resilience.
Here are five ways to incorporate random acts of kindness into your next family vacation.
1. Pack an attitude of gratitude.
Leave impatience and judgment behind and showcase an attitude of gratitude. Lead with a smile and offer thanks to those you meet along the way. From harried flight attendants, pilots, TSA agents and front desk personnel to tour guides, bus drivers, restaurant servers and room attendants, encourage the kids to say thank you whenever appropriate. Consider leaving a handwritten note or crayon drawing along with your tip, an extra effort sure to garner a smile from the recipient. If you loved your hotel stay or cruise ship experience, leave a note congratulating the whole crew for a job well done.
2. Be aware of your surroundings.
Encourage the kids to take note of the pregnant woman, the elderly or handicapped who might be standing in a crowded bus, airline terminal or hotel lobby while the young and able lounge in chairs. Discuss (and model) how offering a seat, a hand or opening a door can be helpful. Encourage the heavily laden or parents managing a cranky child to go ahead in line. Perhaps a strong teen can assist a frail adult with removing a heavy piece of luggage from the overhead compartment.
In the queue for a soda or coffee? Quietly pay for someone in uniform or an elderly person behind you in line. By simply taking notice, opportunities for extending kindness will multiply.
3. Pack for a purpose.
Reserve a little space in your luggage for books, clothing or school supplies that will make a difference in the lives of others in your destination. The non-profit organization, Pack For A Purpose, works with hundreds of hotels and tour operators in 60 countries to help travelers contribute to those in need. Whether you stow pencils, a deflated soccer ball, a stethoscope or pet supplies in your bags, you and your family will return home knowing you’ve helped spread kindness beyond your own backyard.
4. Walk, run or bike for charity.
Research your destination to determine if there is an opportunity to combine healthy exercise with the chance to give back in your getaway spot. Ask your hotel about opportunities or connect with the local tourism organization for ideas. The Humane Society may be able to suggest events that will help homeless animals. If there is a charity you support or have interest in at home, give them a call to see if they can provide a contact in your intended destination. LiveStrong has combined a list of nationwide events on their website. Peruse the options for a match. Contact:
5. Take a volunteer vacation.
Whether you offer an hour, a day or a week, giving back of your time and resources makes for a meaningful holiday. Spend time reading to kids at a nearby school, help save sharks or turtles, share the gift of language or scoop ice cream and assist with pony rides for kids with life-threatening illnesses staying at a non-profit resort.
Contact the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for more ideas. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/