It’s that time of year again. Time to begin winding down the school year. Time to start figuring out the kids’ summer schedules. And yes, time to plan the summer family vacation.
When my kids were younger, it seemed a bit easier to figure out what to do. Let’s face it, the easiest trip with little kids always won out. Weekly rental at the shore? Check. Walt Disney World? Check. Visit to our extended family’s vacation home? Check. But this year, I’m feeling the need to check something different off our box. And it seems some of my friends and clients are feeling the same way.
Now that our kids are a bit older (ages 9, 7 and 4), I want more than just a vacation...I want to experience something with them. Luckily, resorts and tour companies have been listening. Here are two ideas that make my cut:
What person born before 1980 doesn’t remember Billy Crystal in “City Slickers?” The image of him herding cattle still remains in my head and while I don’t necessarily want to go on a vacation with Curly, the idea of a dude ranch is highly appealing.
Not to mention, family dude ranches have come a long way since the ‘80s. While the good ol’ rustic ones still exist, many high-end ranches are now mainstream. Sleep in luxury cabins or better yet, try “glamping” (yes, it’s exactly what you think). Then horseback ride, fish, explore Old West towns, and end the day with s’mores around a campfire. Another bonus is most offer all-inclusive type packages so trying the bison won’t set you back.
Want pampering and “glamping”? Give The Resort at Paws Up in Montana a try. You won’t be disappointed (from $6,009 for a 4-night stay for a family of four). Want to participate in a family rodeo and explore the mountains on horseback? Tumbling River Ranch in Colorado may get you into the saddle (weekly rates from $2,400 per person).
Gone are the bus tours with everyone wearing matching shirts. They’ve been replaced with unique and fun adventures that both adults and kids will enjoy. Here’s why it should be on your radar if you want an educational experience for your kids without your kids necessarily knowing they are being “educated.”
- Hassle-free travel. Most meals and excursions are also part of the package.
- Separate adult and kid activities. Many family tours offer experiences for the kids and separate ones for the adults, if you so choose. From pizza making in Naples to panning for gold in Alaska, kids will love learning new things while spending time with new friends.
Disney offers family-friendly tours and let’s face it...what doesn’t Disney do right?!?! Adventures by Disney has a minimum age requirement of four and offers various itineraries around the globe (prices starting from $2,349 per person). Another one to check out is Tauck Bridges which is the family arm of Tauck Tours (starting around $2,765 per person).
And when all else fails and the vacation fund jar is not quite full, there’s always the good old-fashioned road trip. Here’s a site devoted to quirky places to visit across the U.S.A. that would have made Clark W. Griswold proud (www.roadsideamerica.com).
So while the second largest ball of twine may not be one of our stops this summer, the odometer on our minivan may get some good use.
Danielle Meeker is a Travel Consultant with Liadis Travel, Ltd. in Newtown Square, PA and a Haddonfield resident. Danielle@Liadis.com.