By: Julien Hittle
After a few months offrigid weather, it’s time to make a glorious escape from bumper-to-bumpertraffic. So kiss the Capitol goodbye and say hello (or aloha) to a new adventure!While going back to the same familiar vacation spots can be comfortable, thinkingoutside the box can help you discover new favorite destinations.
Share childhood dreams with your family and sleep in the trees like SwissFamily Robinson, except with a bit more luxury. Treehouses all over the worldcater to families, including one eco-friendly treehouse resort inJuluchuca,Mexico, that gives “environmentallyconscious” a whole new meaning.
Not only is Playa Viva fully powered by solar energy, butthe treehouses are specifically positioned to maximize ocean breezes. Alongwith sleeping aloft, show your family how great it feels to give back byvolunteering at the resort’s own turtle sanctuary. Kids and families can participatealong with local volunteers by collecting turtle eggs and releasing babyturtles into the sea. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, local fishermen can teachyour family how to catch dinner — think spear fishing! After catching dinner, samplethe fruits of your labor and indulge in homemade, savory Mexican meals madefrom ingredients fresh off Playa Viva’s four-acre farm. In the evenings, gohorseback riding along the glittering coast of Jaluchuca. The resort even hasminiature ponies so the little ones can join in too. Visit the Playa Viva website!
Find Mickey at the Beach
Going to Disneyland is every child’s dream. But what if you could give yourkids the vacation of their dreams AND yours? Jump aboard your nearest HawaiianAirlines and head to the island of O’ahu. Escape the crowded Honolulu beachesand stay at one of Disney’s finest resorts,Aulani. While there are no themeparks nearby, there are more than enough amusements for the whole family. Startyour day off right by eating breakfast with a few of your kids’ favorite Disneycharacters at the Makahiki. Not only will mom and dad get first class food(we’re talking French toast, waffles, omelets and island fruits), but the kidscan grab photos with Mickey Mouse, Goofy and lots of other favorites. Adultscan experience the local culture by taking hula dancing lessons and authenticcooking classes, while kids can hunt for hidden statues and hear ancientstories around the fire pit. Go on guided hikes, learn to surf and get up closeand personal with dolphins – lead by people who know the island best, theDisney Adventure Guides. At night, bring the whole family together to watch aclassic Disney movie under the stars. Visit the Aulani website!
There’s a reason Ansel Adams took so many photos of Yosemite National Park. Thepark, which spans almost 1,200 square miles, has long been a favoritedestination for families from all over the world. Late spring is the ideal timeto visit because you’ll be able to see the waterfalls in their full glory,unlike during the late summer months when some falls become more like tricklesof water. Before heading to your cabin, tent or hotel, make sure you stop atGlacier Point, where the panoramic view of the Yosemite Valley will easily takeyour breath away. Snap some photos, sit down for a snack, and get ready toexperience one of the most beautiful National Parks the U.S.A. has to offer. Spendyour days in the park climbing on mile-high boulders in Twolame Meadows,walking through forests of giant sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove, or hiking upmassive waterfalls (Upper Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls have been visitor’sfavorites). Or rent bikes at Curry Village to explore the valley floor.Yosemite also suggests newcomers try out their Mountaineering School, wherefamilies can learn to rock climb in a natural setting. If your family isfeeling extra adventurous, hike the park’s pride and joy, Half Dome. This18-mile hike can be difficult, but people travel from around the globe just tosay they’ve been to the top. Visitors to Yosemite can sleep in tent cabins orenjoy accommodations at the park’s luxurious Ahwahnee Hotel. Be sure to makeyour reservations a few months in advance because spots fill quickly. If youcamp, Yosemite Valley is the place to be, since it’s close by all the majorYosemite attractions. Visit the Yosemite website!
If your family is tired of the nearby icy slopes, head tothe champagne powder capital of the country, Steamboat Springs,Colorado. This ski town is the perfect spring break destination for those whodidn’t get their white Christmas. The kids will love the timing, since theweather is warmer around spring break and the sun shines longer than during thewinter months. Steamboat Springs is extremely kid-friendly; offering fivekids-only lifts and a kids’ terrain park. Plus there’s tubing for all ages. Besure to visit Saddleback Ranch for their Sleigh Ride Dinner. When the sun goesdown, the sleighs come out. Families can cozy up in wool blankets, listen tothe bells jingle against harnesses, and watch as the moon moves across the snow.Forty minutes later, guests arrive at a lodge where hot cider, dancing, and ascrumptious meal await. If sleigh rides aren’t your thing, then opt for a ridethat can be summed up in one word – MUSH! With Red Runner Dog Sled Tours youcan learn to drive your own dog sled team along the coast of the StagecoachReservoir State Park. Before dad takes the reins, kids can help feed the dogsand harness them for the ride. Hot chocolate, snacks, and sweets are served atthe end of each ride. After a fun afternoon of dog sledding, families can takea relaxing swim at Strawberry Park Natural Mineral Hot Springs. With asnow-covered town as magical as Steamboat Springs, your family might never wantto leave. Visit the Steamboat Springs website!
Feel Outthe Wild, Wild West
Round up your family and head out West for a family vacation that will channeleveryone’s inner cowboy. Dude ranches across America cater to families who wantto escape the hustle and bustle of city living and experience an authenticWestern adventure. At Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, families canexperience that and much more. With 60,000 acres to explore, it’s the largestguest ranch with resort amenities and has been in business for almost 150years. A popular feature at Tanque Verde Ranch is their breakfast horse ride.After a leisurely ridein the cool morning hours, families can enjoy fresh blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausageand other down-home-on-the-range favorites. Kids have their own daily schedule, with activitieslike trail rides, desert adventures, cowboy crafts, buckaroo tennis, picniclunches, hayrides and more. Adults can have an equally enjoyable time at theranch. Besides the typical horseback riding, guests can try team penning, wherea few people try to maneuver unruly cattle around an obstacle course. Aftertreks in the dessert and herding cattle, Tanque Verde’s La Sonora Spa offers arelaxing oasis for moms and dads who need a little rejuvenation. Here, parentscan have a healing massage or enjoy a wine wrap (think cabernet creams andchardonnay scrubs) followed by a dip in the indoor pool, where expansivewindows overlook the mountainous landscape. When the evening cowbell rings,families gather to dine on food fit more for kings and queens than cowboys andgirls. At the end of the day, families can share in movie night, featuringnumerous American Western options among others. At Tanque Verde, John Wayne andRoy Rogers won’t be the only ones riding off into the sunset. Visit the Tanque Verde website!
Julien Hittleis the Marketing Manager for FAMILY Magazine. She’s also highly obsessed withreally good food. Contact her at [email protected].
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