The best family vacations are equal parts fun and relaxation. While giant theme parks are popular, you don’t need 50 different rides and dozens of souvenir shops to have a good time with your kids. If you’re planning a family trip, here are a few great destinations that offer ample opportunity for adventure but won’t make your head spin.
Out ‘n’ About Treesort
Treehouses have the power to bring out the kid in everyone. At this eccentric resort, families can stay in one of about a dozen treehouses ranging in size from cozy cabins to veritable tree-mansions with wrap-around patios, full kitchens, and antique claw foot tubs. Lodging is very reasonably priced with many units renting for under $200 a night. Kids will love descending out of their treetop rooms from fire poles, rope swings and hanging ladders.
As if getting to hang out in a treehouse wasn’t enough, the Treesort has a ton of awesome activities for its lucky guests. Fly around the forest on zip-lines. Soar though the trees on the giant Tarzan swing. Go horseback riding, lounge at the pool, raft down the Rogue River, or sign up for an on-site arts and crafts class.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Stepping out into the expansive wild area of Denali National Park has a fantastic rejuvenating effect. Set up camp in the forest, share stories around a campfire, and try to pick out constellations in the dark night sky. A Denali vacation is bound to be full of unparalleled sights and adventure.
A single 92-mile road is the only paved route through Denali National Park and, though visitors can drive only as far as 15 miles into the park, buses are available to take your family on a breathtaking scenic drive though the entire route. On green buses, riders can get off and hike around the park and then jump back on a later bus to continue down the road. Tan buses have a tour guide onboard to regale visitors with stories of the park’s cultural and natural history.
Sled dog demonstrations are given daily at Denali National Park, and the park’s multiple visitors’ centers feature interactive exhibits that allow guests to gain insight into the natural sights and wildlife they might encounter during their visit.
Make sure you rest in comfort at the conveniently located McKinley Chalet, less than two miles from the park entrance.
If you plan to begin your Denali vacation in Anchorage, stay at the Westmark Anchorage Hotel and travel to Denali National Park by train. To begin your Alaska journey in Fairbanks, relax at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel and Conference Center before embarking on your trip to McKinley Chalet.
Bethany Beach, Delaware
This sleepy East Coast town transforms into a popular vacation spot in the summer. Bordered on one side by miles of sandy ocean shore, Bethany Beach is beachcomber’s paradise.
Walk along the boardwalk or hop on a trolley to check out some of the local shops. Rent kayaks and float around the beautiful and expansive waterways of Delaware Seashore State Park. Head to nearby Fenwick Island and see a massive collection of shipwreck artifacts at the DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum. On weekend nights you might catch a live performance on the downtown bandstand, where the entertainment is always free and family friendly.
Situated in such an enviable natural setting, Bethany Beach is accustomed to entertaining visitors. There’s no shortage of options for restaurants, lodging, and recreation in this coastal town and you’ll find plenty to keep every member of the family busy.
If you’re walking around in downtown DC, you might expect to see a lot of government-types speed walking to meetings with to-go cups of coffee in their hands. And while there are plenty of power suits to be seen near DC’s bustling National Mall, you’re also bound to spot a lot of families on vacation.
According to Wikipedia, about 24 million people visit DC’s National Mall each year, and it’s not just to gaze up at the Lincoln Memorial. DC has a wide array of activities that are both educational and fun for all ages, making it an exceptional spot for a family trip. Start at the Smithsonian Institute, which encompasses 19 museums and galleries, as well as the National Zoo. The best part: none of the Smithsonian Institute organizations charge an admission fee. With all the money you save on admission while in DC you can grab some street snacks to munch on beside statues of former presidents.
A few tips to help things run smoothly no matter where you go:
- Make a vacation information sheet where you can keep track of any confirmation numbers, addresses, and contact info that you might need to reference during your trip.
- Bring reusable water bottles, the lightweight stainless steel kind are great. Bottled water can get ridiculously expensive near popular vacation destinations, so you’ll always want to have at least one refillable bottle on hand.
- Pack a few healthy snacks. Apples and a couple PB&Js make great energy-boosting snacks and are easy to carry around.
- Get the kids involved in the planning process, incorporate some of their ideas into the itinerary and they’ll be happy travelers.
- Make sure to leave some opportunity for downtime so you won’t have to stress about trying to cram in an overabundance of activities.
Don’t worry about leaving some of the trip unplanned, part of the fun of traveling as a family will be discovering and exploring new things together. Happy trails!