Summer is the perfect time to travel, take vacation and explore new parts of the world. Traveling as a family, most people tend to stick to familiar destinations, campgrounds and all-inclusive cruises or resorts where everything is taken care of. But if you are a family that is looking for a little more flexibility, more adventure, plenty of thrills and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; we highly suggest checking out these top 10 destinations for family adventure travel.
10. Glacier National Park, Montana
If you are looking to stick within North America this summer but are still looking for an outdoor adventure for the whole family, Glacier National Park in Montana should be at the top of your list. There are lodges and campgrounds throughout the park with plenty of opportunity for hiking, biking, horseback riding and swimming. This national park features a dozen glacier peaks that are separated by clear mountain streams, pristine lakes and plenty of waterfalls to discover. Kids and adults alike will love looking out for the abundance of wildlife including deer, moose and mountain goats. If you are looking for a more guided and organized adventure there are plenty of tour guides that offer family specific trips throughout the park, complete with adults-only meals, luxury lodge accommodations and enough activities to keep the kids busy all day long. Get into the heart of the mountains and feel like you are worlds away from home.
9. Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos are best explored when kids are a little older and can appreciate what they truly have to offer. The best way to discover the islands is a family geared cruise that ensures the whole family will be involved in the fun. These family cruises are often small and intimate, which paves the way for the exceptional customer service that extends to the kids. While snorkeling with the turtles, swimming with the sea lions and watching the penguins swim by are always a hit amongst the whole family, these cruises offer so much more. Connecting with nature at a young age is important to teaching children about the planet and the guides aboard these ships know how to connect with them. Where else in the world can your 10 year old learn to anchor a boat, sleep in a treehouse and swim alongside a curious sea lion all in one day?
8. Great Sand Dunes, Colorado
Sand, sand and more sand is what you will find at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado and we promise that the kids will absolutely love it here! This giant sandbox provides plenty of opportunity to bring out the kid in anyone as you slide down the hills on either a sled or sand board. This activity is actually legal in the park and sleds and boards can be rented at one of a few retailers in the San Luis Valley. The best time to visit this park is at the beginning of the summer before the dunes become scorching hot. This time of year is also when Medano Creek is flowing and families should bring inflatable tubes to float down it. Hiking, camping, horseback riding, four wheeling and fun ranger-led programs are all activities that families can look forward to here. Whether you travel here just for a day or spend a week camping; families won’t run out of fun and exciting things to do.
7. New Mexico
If your family is looking for adventure, real cowboys and Indians and exceptional food, New Mexico may just be the perfect vacation destination. Although this destination is widely known for its art galleries, boutique shops and spirituality; there is plenty more to discover if you dig a little deeper. With ranch resorts surrounding the area, families can choose adventures such as horseback riding, watching the Rodeo, fly fishing, rock climbing and white water rafting. One especially unique adventure here is the opportunity to hike and camp in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Rio Grande Gorge area with Wild Earth Llama Adventures. Each member of the family is coupled with its own llama, which carries the gear and creates a great distraction for the little ones who often tire easily of hiking. This camping experience is complete with campfires, gourmet meals and a never ending variety of activities for the kids.
6. Costa Rica
If you are looking for a thrilling summer vacation that really get’s the whole family’s hearts pumping, Costa Rica is the perfect country to do so. One of the safest, if not the safest country in Central America, traveling here is easy and inexpensive. Trek through an impressive cloud forest, zip line over lush green mountains, hike a volcano and learn to surf in the warm waters. Kids will delight in listening to the howler monkeys in the trees, relaxing in the many hot springs and splashing in the waves. Eco-tourism has taken a big step in this country and there are endless choices for accommodations, whether you want a luxurious treehouse or a laid back hotel. With two major airports to fly into, English speaking guides and a plethora of adventure; Costa Rica is a perfect summer vacation.
5. Canadian Rockies, Alberta
Wildlife, mountain treks, sparkling blue lakes and hot springs are what await families in the Canadian Rockies. If your family loves to hike, mountain bike and swim; there is no better place in Canada to visit for a summer full of adventure and thrills. Many choose to make Banff their home base as it is full of kid-friendly restaurants, hotels that feature pools and waterslides and easy access to the surrounding mountains and lakes. The other option for adventure travel here is a custom designed organized tour, designed with families in mind. There are some exceptional tour operators in this area and from canoeing to white water rafting to cliff jumping to exploring the towns; these trips are perfect for families who want adventure but prefer someone else does the planning.
4. Grand Canyon and Surrounding Area, Arizona
It would be a mistake to think that kids will be bored exploring the Grand Canyon but it would also be a mistake to assume they will want to spend a week doing so. Therefore to make the most of this adventurous vacation, we suggest splitting your time between the Grand Canyon and the surrounding areas of Page and Sedona. Hiking below the rim in the canyon is highly recommended for avid outdoor enthusiasts and the ranger led hikes are a hit with families as the ranger points out things like fossils in the rock layers, lizards basking in the sun, and desert wildflowers and wildlife. The surrounding areas of Page and Sedona offer outdoor adventures such as exploring Glen Canyon Dam, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell. Combine that with the smooth water float trip you can take and the kids will have the best outdoor adventure of a lifetime.
3. Big Island, Hawaii
Animal adventures, outdoor thrills and the chance to sneak in some education is what await families on the Big Island of Hawaii. Start off with a heart-pounding helicopter ride over the island, introducing you to the hidden waterfalls, lava lakes and fiery fresh lava flows. Next up head to one of the many beaches were you can build towering black sand castles, take a family surf lesson and try your hand at stand up paddle boarding. Depending on the swimming levels of the kids, scuba diving and snorkeling are very popular among these warm waters that teem with colorful tropical fish. For an even bigger adventure make sure to try the manta ray night dive. Climb a volcano, zip line through the jungle and pitch your tent in one of the many campgrounds and discover the ultimate summer playground.
2. Glacier Bay, Alaska
Say goodbye to overcrowded family cruises and experience the unforgettable landscape of Alaska from your own personal floating base. Tour companies are now offering intimate, family orientated cruises through Glacier Bay; set at your own personal pace. An on-board naturalist is there to teach the entire family about tide pools, the underwater songs of the whales and local botany. Kids will love kayaking to hidden inlets, walking out onto frozen glaciers and hiking through majestic old-growth forests and coming face to face with incredible wildlife such as bears, bald eagles and humpback whales. The best part for parents may just be when the kids conk out and they are privy to the on-board hot tub or an after dark paddle through the sea. Instead of watching the glaciers pass by from a typical ship, why not get adventurous and explore them with a family orientated boat trip.
1. Zambia Safari, Africa
This is the best adventurous family vacation to take if your family includes active teenagers. Not necessarily recommended for younger children, Zambia Safaris promise high thrills, excellent wildlife spotting and a chance to hike in the national parks; keeping in mind the minimum age to hike through these parks is 12. Visit the unforgettable Victoria Falls, raft in the class 5 rapids of the Zambezi River and come face to face with big game such as hippos and lions. Walking safaris are an amazing way to discover creatures you could never see from a car such as the dung beetle, and still offer luxury accommodations in the heart of the parks. Expect to kayak the lakes, swim in a natural infinity pool, visit a local school and have an experience of a lifetime. Teens love this adventurous vacation as guides do an incredible job of making them feel independent and many companies even offer teen only dinners, hikes and more.