What’s summer break without a vacation? Whether you’re heading out with the entire family or looking for some grown-up fun, we’ve got you covered with destinations that are sure to take you to new heights, literally!
Five Kid-FRIENDLY Vacation Destinations
My family drove cross country the summer before I started fifth grade. I’ll never forget our stop by the Grand Canyon. I was so mad when I found out that’s where we were heading! ‘We’re going to see a hole in the ground? Are you kidding me? What a joke!’ I grumbled on and on the entire drive, until I peeked out the window and caught a glimpse of that hole. To this day, I hold that experience in my heart as the first time I knew what true beauty was. It was utterly magnificent. The sheer vastness of it is enough to make even the most cynical teenager stop and admire the world around them. I was so impressed, I ran to the car and grabbed my most prized possession (a brown and white Pound Puppy named Martin, who I still have to this day) so he could see how awesome it was. You will note a picture of this event to the left. You’ll also need to ignore my hair.
It is a simple truth that if you don’t take your kids to Disney World, they will hold it against you forever. They’ll be telling a lady peering over her clipboard at them while they lay on a stuffy leather couch that, ‘It all started that year my parents refused to take me to Disney World.’ Honestly, there’s so much to see in Orlando your entire family is bound to have fun, whether they like it or not. A few tips from an old pro: visit Sea World in the summer and Disney in the fall. Snag a Florida resident to take advantage of their discounts, either via friends of friends or at the counter to buy your tickets for you, and whenever possible, stay at a hotel on-site. There is something to be said for walking back to the room midday and returning that night for fireworks bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
This one is for a slightly older crowd as there is a lot of walking involved. Typically, kids around nine will appreciate the level of history you’re presented with in D.C. I’ll also say that kids feed off their parent’s emotions and if you’re engaged and interested, they will be too. My dad chaperoned my son’s school trip there this past summer. My dad is a Vietnam Vet and nearly broke down at the memorial wall. My son still talks about it. There’s also the Smithsonian, which has multiple buildings and exhibits and cannot be done in one day. Everyone should see this at least once in their lifetime.
Holy castle, Batman. Ifyou have a little girl and don’t take her here to pretend like she’s a princess, I will be very disappointed in you. This Victorian castle in the Shawangunk Mountains offers a pristine lake, 85 miles of hiking trails, a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, stables and a grand lawn where families can watch movies in the open air. Kids can participate in the award-winning children’s program that includes guided nature walks, animal tracking and fossil hunts. You can sign up for e-mail alerts to find out about special offers. Several times a year, kids 12 and under stay and eat free when you visit midweek.
With multiple locations throughout the US, one of these resorts may be closer than you think. Though each lodge may differ in their amenities, the basic package is: “Your Great Wolf Lodge adventure begins in our massive, 84-degree indoor water park. Splash the day away in over 80,000 square feet of water-packed excitement, including jaw-dropping slides for thrill seekers or zero-depth entry areas for little ones. Outside the water park, the fun continues. Grab a wand and battle a dragon in MagiQuest or get an ice cream-themed manicure in Scoops Kid Spa before gathering your family in our Grand Lobby for nightly fireside Story Time, the perfect ending to a Great Wolf day.” So it’s like camping, but without the bugs and stuff. WIN!
Five Kid-FREE Vacation Destinations
If you’re in the mood for an escape, an adults-only island might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Just off the Florida Keys’ coastline, Little Palm Island Resort and Spa is set on a private, five-acre islet and surrounded by sherbet-green seas. They offer packages for groups and romantic specials for couples. The island is very small, so reservations are important. Planning in advance is a must for this little piece of heaven.
Yes, that’s right. I said a Tree House. Like, in a tree. Bonus: No kids allowed at all! From their website: All of us, as children, felt the pull of the treetops. One hand over the next, we would climb as high as we could, finding at last a secure branch and a secret hiding place from which to watch the rest of the world. Each of our Tree Houses respond to these childhood fantasies, offering a dreamlike retreat just inches from the sky. This unique lodging experience is complete with breathtaking views as well as all of the comforts you would expect. How awesome is this? We must all go.
Savannah is my absolute favorite place in the world. There are historical tours and museums to visit for folks who enjoy that type of thing. You can also just wander around the city, popping in and out of stores down on River Street, exploring until your heart’s content. This is also a great place for those who are inclined to the paranormal side of life; with more ghosts than most of the living know what to do with. While some would consider this a family destination, I would recommend traveling kid-free your first time. Nothing can spoil getting lost in the beauty of the trees as they canopy overhead like the sharp whine of, ‘Can we go back to the hotel now? I’m tired!’ So, come to think of it, you might want to leave your husband at home too. I’m just kidding, fellas. Sort of.
In addition to truly beautiful scenery, this small area of Northern California is home to the world’s best wine and food. Wine lovers can experience a veritable smorgasbord including all the French varietals and the region’s prized grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re in the area, it would be a shame not to experience all of Northern California. You’ll find yourself amid nature preserves, forests and a giant tree you can drive through near Redwoods State Park. You know good and well you’ve always wanted to drive through a tree. Well, here’s your chance!
Time spent exploring the brilliant natural surroundings that give Palmetto Bluff South Carolina Resort its distinctive spirit. Navigate your way through this ecological nirvana – twenty thousand acres brimming with wildlife and geographic diversity – on foot or horseback, by kayak, or aboard a serene river cruise. Adventure is just a few steps away. A friend of mine recommended this spot. She said it is very private, peaceful and a wonderful place to visit with a significant other or group of friends. She has really good taste, so I’m taking her word for it.
BONUS! Your Town, USA
We often forget about our own cities. I guarantee there is somewhere you’ve never seen right in your own town. Book a hotel, take the kids to your mothers or bring them along and just enjoy some time together. It’s cost effective and low commitment because you can always come home in the middle of the night if you need to, not that I’m speaking from experience (I’m totally speaking from experience).
The moral of the story is: get out there! Have some fun and make some memories. Didn’t see your favorite spot listed above? Do comment and tell.
In addition to writing proposals for Sunbelt Staffing, ChristyTrujillo has published six novels including the multi-cultural Maldito Series and an adult romance under the pen name, Lee Ralaine. She currently resides in Jacksonville, FL with her husband, son, two black cats who seem to be very lucky and one tuxedo cat whose morning antics are more reliable than an alarm clock. You can find out more about Christy and her books at ChristyTrujillo.com.