Taking the family on a vacation is a fun, but sometimes are a challenging experience. To plan the perfect vacation, you need to first decide on the perfect vacation spot for your family’s personality and budget. Here are 11 vacations that are kid friendly.
1. New England Cottage Rentals
Renting a cottage is a time-honored and beloved type of summer vacation: escape from the city, settle in by a lake or beach, and have your own home base, kitchen and all. About’s Guide for New England for Visitors has resources for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and New York State.
2. The Wildflower Inn: Vermont
The Wildflower Inn has 570 acres, suites with kitchenettes, many outdoor activities, and is as family-friendly as you’d expect a place to be, when the owners have eight kids themselves. Location is in northern Vermont, 3 hours drive from Boston, 5-1/2 hours from NYC, and just 2 hours from Montreal. The Wildflower Inn has a swimming pool, kids pool, lots of sports, and kids’ programs for ages 3 to 12.
In June, a special week-long kids’ program is offered, designed for babies and preschoolers. “Butterflies, Tots, and Forget-me-Nots” is based on the “very successful Danish outdoor pre-school model”, and “allows children to explore nature, have fun with other children, and use their imaginations.” A package price includes all meals, entertainment, and more.
3. Smuggler’s Notch: Vermont
Smugglers Notch is best known as a top-rated family ski resort, but there’s plenty of fun for summer vacations too, with 8 heated and 3 children’s pools, waterslides, “Little Smugglers Lagoon”, Treasures child care center, and two teen centers for two different age groups. And, just as with their winter vacations, family fun is guaranteed.
SummerFest package rates include: condominium lodging; waterslides; pools and hot-tubbing; evening entertainment; full-day kids’ programs for ages 3 to 17; and many activities. Optional programs for older kids include Video Camp, Mountain Boarding, Junior Tennis, and more.
Camping — like cottage rentals– is a classic summer vacation; but if you’re picturing a tent, back-to-nature, and hot dogs over a fire pit, be prepared to update your thinking. Nowadays there’s such a thing as “camping resorts” that offer everything from cabins to swimming pools to kids’ programs. And even if you’re roughing it, new styles of tents have rooms and foyers; and camping cooking has become camping cuisine — see link below.
5. Shenandoah National Park: Virginia
This Park is a summer vacation destination recommended by About’s guide for Budget Travel: “a great weekend getaway for people in places like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore or Richmond.” No fancy hotels or restaurants, but visitors can enjoy million-dollar views from Skyline Drive while staying at campgrounds for only a few dollars a night.
6. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
This giant 2400-acre resort has a beach side on the Emerald Coast (Gulf of Mexico) and also a bay side with many activities. Fun at Sandestin includes: kids’ sailing, kayaking, putting course, Jolee Island Nature Park with pirate-ship playground, kids’ programs for ages 4-6 and 7-12, body-surfing and boogie boards (complimentary), and Junior Golf Academy with excellent instructors.
Guests can choose from many different types of accommodation, including a popular beachside tower, townhouses, and a budget-minded option. Meanwhile, the centre of gravity of this huge resort is the picture-perfect Village of Baytowne Wharf. Several accommodations choices are right near the Village, including suites.
7. Family Reunions at Walt Disney World
Wander around Walt Disney World on any given day, and you’re sure to see multigenerational and extended families, usually taking each others’ pictures, and having pretty much as good a time as pictured in Disney’s tv ads. “Multi-household vacations” are a new travel buzzword, and surveys show that people want to travel with extended family and friends.
But planning a group vacation can mean many hassles with coordination and logistics. Now, those clever thinkers at Disney want to de-stress this mess, with online planning tools to help coordinate multi-household holidays. Disney World also offers special entertainment options for “Magical Gatherings” and “Grand Gatherings” (–groups of eight or more.)
8. Yosemite National Park: California
840 miles of hiking trails, unique wildlife, scenic Yosemite Falls– no wonder Yosemite is a popular Park. Lodgings range from camping to The Ahwahnee Hotel, a Registered National Landmark. A favorite for families is “Housekeeping Camp“: camping without the hassle of setting up a tent, at a cost of about $70 per night. Units have three concrete walls, curtained doorway, canvas roof, covered patio, bunks and double bed. Also, Curry Village tent cabins at similar rates have canvas walls, wood floors, electricity, screened windows, beds and linens. Curry Village has an outdoor amphitheater, pool, raft and bike rentals.
Other summer vacation fun at Yosemite: swim in the Merced River; pet the mules at the Yosemite Stables, explore the Ahwahnee Indian Village; take a free class at Yosemite’s Art Activity Center; time-travel at the Pioneer History Center in Wawona; visit the Happy Isles Nature Center; see the Giant Sequoias at Mariposa Grove. Also: the National Parks Service offers several free or low-cost interpretive programs tailored for families.
9. Utah: Bryce Canyon National Park
Have a look at the otherworldly beauty of the “hoodoos” in these photos at About’s web site for Western US for Visitors. At Bryce Canyon National Park, erosion has shaped stone into thousands of amazing shapes. Click above for info on lodging, dining, and saving money. Bryce Canyon offers auto touring, hiking, horseback riding, nature walks, stargazing, interpretive programs…
See the National Parks site for details about these activities, and be sure to click the “For Kids” section. During summer vacation months, hour-long “Just for Kids” programs are offered daily, with activities about the Park’s cultural or natural history. This park also has a Junior Ranger Program: kids sign up, get a workbook, attend a ranger program, and when they’ve completed their activities, receive a patch and a Junior Ranger certificate.
10. Taos, New Mexico
Two hours drive north of Santa Fe, Taos New Mexico offers outdoor fun and a unique mix of anglo-hispanic-and native cultures. Whitewater rafting, llama treks, and hot-air ballooning are available adventures. The Taos Pueblo, meanwhile, is one of the oldest in North America, and a World Heritage site. July offers the Taos Pueblo Pow-Wow, with native dancers and drummers from across the continent; visitors are welcome. Treat yourself to a stay at beautifully-decorated casitas (but even modest motels are attractively built adobe-style.)
11. Alaska Wildland Adventures: Family Safari
Raft the Kenai River, hike in Chugach National Forest, explore Kenai Fjords National Park by boat, learn about native cultures… This 6-day family adventure is offered several times over summer vacation months.