Vacations Your Kids Will Get Pumped About  

by Pool Builders on 12-01-2009 in Articles

Maybe you discovered the hard way that kids are not exactly content wandering through murky museums or art galleries, gazing at massive cathedrals, or lunching in a lush setting. If you have a couple of 4-5 year olds, maybe you can get by with a few amusement rides and the hotel swimming pool. But once kids hit elementary school through high school, they will make your family vacation miserable if it's boring. I've researched ten super family vacations that are kid-friendly. If you have grade school and high school kids, you may have to split up during the day, but that's okay. So here's my list.

1. Okay, Okay, I'll cave and include Disney World first so you don't keep bugging me. There are far too many attractions to describe in detail. Let's see, there's the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Epcot Center, MGM Studios, Legoland, and much more. In my opinion, the only attraction that's getting a bit old is Epcot Center. The others are terrific. Just a word about the Animal Kingdom. The lodge is decorated with earth tone walls and African ambiance. Thirty-three wild acres contain over 100 different species including impalas, zebras, giraffes, Thompson's gazelle... Your kids will love Orlando.

2. The Out 'n About Treesort in the woods of Takilma, Oregon is a kid's dream. What child hasn't dreamed of living in a tree house? Well, families can actually live in one during their vacation. There are fourteen tree houses sleeping 2-8 people each. Lodgers use rope swings, swinging and suspension bridges, fire poles, and a 160 foot-long zip line to get around! During the day, families can take courses in tree house building or they can go rafting, swimming, or horseback riding, scale a 51-foot rope climbing tree, or take arts and crafts classes. The kids won't stop raving about this place.

3. Atlantis Resort in Reno only cost $850 million to create. The complex includes 20,000 guest rooms, 38 restaurants, 11 exhibit lagoons, 50,000 animals, 11 pool areas, 7 water slides, including a 60-foot Mayan Temple drop into a tunnel submerged in a shark infested lagoon. Kids feel like they've just discovered the infamous lost continent themselves. If you live closer to Florida, there's an Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas which includes many similar attractions to the Reno resort. But while we're talking about good old Nevada we might as well mention the other fabulous kid-friendly resort, Circus Circus. It's only the biggest permanent big top in the world and 3.5 million people flock there each year. Circus performers do their amazing feats non-stop, plus there are 200 arcade games, plus carnival games, and wandering clowns. As if that's not enough, there are over 20 rides in the theme park, miniature golf, and laser tag.

4. Now for something completely different: dude ranches. Tanque Verde Ranch, in Arizona's Sonoran Desert, is one of the best known. Throughout its 640 acres roam over 120 horses. There are riding lessons, as well as every kind of trail ride you can imagine. Naturalist guides offer hikes through desert wilds, yawning canyons, towering cacti, and even secret waterfalls. Kids also can take tennis lessons, swimming, and arts and crafts. Appealing to adults are the delicious steak cook-outs, gourmet picnics, the square dancing, and the beautiful mountains rising in the distance.

5. As more and more vacationers are discovering Alaska, it's becoming a top favorite. Alaska is still a bit wild, with 14 major mountain ranges, glaciers, much wildlife, and almost 34,000 miles of coastline. Ideally, it's best if you can take a land and sea cruise to enjoy the best of both worlds, but do what your pocketbook can afford. Summer is the most comfortable time of the year and there is plenty to do. You can whale-watch or view a vast panoply of wildlife at Denali State Park or another refuge. You can tour a gold mine, count moose, backpack, bird watch, camp, cross country ski, dog sled, hike, salmon fish, visit Mt. McKinley, stargaze, take a riverboat discovery tour, or visit the Imaginarium Science Discovery Center. And this is the short list. I don't think the kids will get bored.

6. New York City is sometimes left out as a kid-friendly place for whatever reason. But there's a lot for kids in New York's Central Park alone. You'll find horse-drawn carriage rides, Heckscher Playground, lake boating, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, Central Park Zoo/Tisch Children's Zoo, Billy Johnson Playground, the Wollman Ice Skating Rink, and Belvedere Castle Nature Center. In the Broadway area, artists set up shop on the sidewalks and draw personalized names in a colorful pattern of dragons, pandas, and dolphins. These are extremely popular with kids. But the big draw, of course, is what Broadway offers. Disney invested $34 million to restore the old Ziegfield Follies haunt, the New Amsterdam Theater, to stage The Lion King in 1997. It's still playing to packed audiences. More recent Disney extravaganza include the Little Mermaid. Other popular family-friendly fare includes Mary Poppins, Wicked, and Hairspray. What can I say? This only scratches the surface in regard to what New York offers. Check it out.

7. Most don't realize it, but while some other states slept, South Carolina has been quietly becoming the #2 state for tourism, after Florida. Myrtle Beach alone welcomes over 13,000,000 guests per year. It's a 60-mile stretch of sand called the Grand Strand and features a great beach, water parks, amusement parks, dinner shows, the Hard Rock Park, special hotel and beach activities, and much more. MagiQuest, a major attraction, is a uniquely interactive experience. It takes many elements of a child's fantasy world, combines them, and creates a special place where children can be heroic, valiant, and brave. Children can fight the dragon, run around a Magical Kingdom, wave magic wands, and have lots of fun doing it. MagiQuest even brings out the child in all of us big kids too! So, if you're looking for some great fun, or wish to burn off some of that rambunctious child energy, you've got to take the kids to MagiQuest.

8. I've got to include at least one choice that's considered extra easy on the family budget. It's the YMCA in Winter Park, Colorado and it goes by the name of Rockies' Snow Mountain Ranch. Last time I checked, rates for a two-bedroom cabin with kitchen started at $126 per night. If you cook a lot of your own food, you can get off pretty easy. The area comprises 5,100 acres of pristine near world-class ski resorts. There is hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, a climbing wall, an indoor pool and gym, and horseback riding in the summer. And best for families with kiddies, there's a full kids' program for ages 3 and up. Who likes winter sports? This is for you.

9. Club Med Ixtapa may be the attraction on the list that would appeal most equally to both adults and kids. It is 30 acres along Mexico's western coast that hosts over 20,000 visitors a year, 60 percent of them grade schoolers. Kids of every age group are kept gloriously busy with all sorts of outdoor activities, fun shows, and crafts. If you want, there's even a perfect kids-only dining room. Meanwhile, the parents get to play! There's tennis, scuba, archery, kayaking, water polo, volleyball, and gourmet picnics. Families venturing off the Club Med property can visit the island, take a sunset cruise, go fishing, or take an excursion into the Mexican fishing village of Zihuatenejo. Then melt your troubles away at the Ixtapa Club Spa and get an outdoor massage or whatever else your heart desires.

10. There's a reason Caribbean cruises corner almost 50 percent of the cruise line market in the U.S. It's because the Caribbean offers the vacation so many have dreamed of for years. Imagine yourself on the largest, sleekest ocean liner imaginable, watching a brilliant sunset against rippling waves out of your cabin window. Then imagine eating superb food whenever it strikes your fancy, day or night. Imagine wonderfully entertaining shows, on-shore excursions to lush islands, and see yourself relaxing or engaging in activities according to your fancy. Then realize that, if you wish, the kids will be engaged for much of each day in a children's program tailor-made just for them. This is what you call an all-inclusive vacation. What more could you want?

Go ahead, Google your favorites if you want. Choose your family vacation of a lifetime and begin planning for it. This will be the vacation that your kids will still remember fondly when they have their own kids. Cool.

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