Traveling with the kids (and maybe even your parents) needn't be a compromise or a chore. Here, getaways for all generations.
By Stacy Lu
Family vacationChoosing the right destination goes a long way toward guaranteeing that your gang-of-all-ages will stay happy, excited, and entertained. Here, affordable, irresistible ideas for multi-generation vacations that will delight all your loved ones, young and old.
For most families, the secret of togetherness is spending several daytime hours apart - and family camps and resorts are set up to let that happen, with a smorgasbord of organized programs, day and night, generally all included in the price of your stay. That means that as you plan, you should consider not only what each of you likes to do, but what potential new areas you want to explore - because if you've never tried snorkeling or waterskiing, this is your big chance. Typically, you can also choose among a number of lodging and dining options, giving your family even further flexibility to mix and match until you create a getaway that will be great for everyone.
With family camps throughout the country (and beyond), the YMCA serves up some of the best - and most affordable - sites for outdoor fun. Each camp is a gem that makes the most of its natural setting - pristine lake, primeval forest, unsullied beach - with comfy lodgings and a long list of location-specific things to do that will swiftly and easily erase any generation gap.
Perched in Missouri's Eastern Ozarks, Trout Lodge overlooks the vast Sunnen Lake, surrounded by acres of lush forest. There's an activity for just about every letter of the alphabet, from archery and horseback riding to trout fishing and woodworking. The camp's family-friendly accommodations include buffet-style meals and suites in the main lodge, as well as adjoining two-bedroom cabins that share a common room.
Other standout camps in the Y's stable: Sandy Island by the crystal waters of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire provides sailing lessons, waterskiing, line dancing classes, and talent shows. The YMCA of the Adirondacks in Silver Bay, NY, features rowing and kayaking, while Camp Nawakwa, in Lac du Flambeau, WI, is located next to a Chippewa reservation where you can tour an original Native American village.
Details: Summer room rates at Trout Lodge are $149 per night for one adult; each additional adult is $59. Kids 6 through 17 are $49; 5 and under are free. Includes all meals and most activities.
To book: For Trout Lodge, call 888-386-9622 or go to ymcaoftheozarks.org. Browse the offerings at ymca.net to find a camp near you or in a locale you'd like to visit.
Related: Packing Tips for Outdoor Summer Activities
Summer at a Ski Resort
With spectacular scenery, luxurious amenities, and a full roster of fun (which may include such kid thrillers as tubing on a waterslide, bungee bouncing, and balloon rides), the slopes make just as great a getaway when they're sunny, warm, and snow free - and the price is often much lower. Take Smugglers' Notch in Vermont, where, as the grown-ups linger over a leisurely breakfast, the kids can hop onto the resort's free shuttle bus bound for skate camp, theater workshops, or one of four water parks. Alternatively, some combination of adults can join little ones in building a toy sailboat or taking a guided nature walk while the rest of the party quaffs cocoa or cocktails at the lodge. At night, the resort hosts live performances, movies, bonfires, and a genuine Vermont country fair, featuring games of all kinds, food stands, and local musicians.
Other mountains to hit when it's hot include Whistler Blackcomb, in Whistler, British Columbia, which has mountain biking, fishing, mini golf, horseback riding, and bungee trampolines. Less strenuous but equally entertaining activities like fly-fishing and soaking in hot springs draw families to Colorado's Steamboat Springs.
Details: Smugglers' Notch condo lodging offers three bedrooms for three nights/four days starting at $1,737: includes most activities. Mention Good Housekeeping if you're booking six summer nights, and your seventh will be free.
To book: For Smugglers' Notch, call 800-451-8752 or visit smuggs.com. For Whistler Blackcomb, see whistlerblackcomb.com. For Steamboat Springs, log on to steamboat.com.
Related: Get More Vacation for Less
Share a Ship
From ocean liners to houseboats, water getaways of all kinds are great for families since they offer fun activities as well as peaceful perusal of the landscape. If cruises are what interests you, know that today's liners are virtually floating resorts, conveniently jam-packed with fun and food tailored to every age. For families seeking more intimacy and interaction, smaller boats that you can steer yourself probably fill the bill.
For a big-boat cruise that caters to everyone in your brood, consider Royal Caribbean's new Freedom-class line. Among the attractions for kids are teen-only dance clubs, a climbing wall, a surf simulator, and a water park. The younger set can participate in hands-on classes in art, science (think volcano making!), and theater. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy live performances, wine tastings, jazz clubs, dance classes, a swimming solarium, and the staff's attentive service.
Despite these onboard luxuries, disembarking from your liner also has its appeal: Many itineraries allow travelers to tour the festive plazas, commanding forts, and antique churches of Puerto Rico's Old San Juan, one of the oldest settlements in U.S. territory. At other typical island stops, St. Thomas and St. Maarten, some of the best beaches in the world (plus duty-free shopping) await.
Details: Per person, double occupancy, prices start at $749 for seven nights. Prices vary by ship.
To book: Call 800-769-2522 or see royalcaribbean.com.
Related: Save On Family Vacations
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