Vacations the Whole Family Will Love
It is always hard to please everyone, but when you go on vacation you want to make sure everyone will have fun and create fond memories of your time together.
Brainstorming as a family to come up with some out of the box ideas is highly suggested. I feel it will make the trip more meaningful to you and everyone involved in the brainstorming. Choose a place where your family has a connection to. Let’s says you are into a particular show or movie, like Game of Thrones, I would definitely tell you to go to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Maybe you are intrigued about a specific part of history, maybe World War 2 and D Day, explore Normandy, France. Perhaps you like a specific artist, for instance, Dale Chihuly, discover Seattle, Washington. Ok, you get my drift!
But just in case you want to stick with some of the tried and true family adventures here is our list of places we love.
The United States has 61 designated national parks and each one is unique and a treasure to explore.
This park is the most recent addition to the National Parks system. My husband and I have been so lucky, that we have been going here since we were kids. Now we have the opportunity to take our kids. It is a magnificent park with year-round activities. My favorite time to go to the park is in the summer. The beaches along the 13 mile stretch of Lake Michigan are breathtaking. I suggest taking a picnic lunch and beach bumming it for the day.
Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona
Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic of all the national parks. If you haven’t been you have probably seen pictures in books and magazines. While it can be crowded during the summer months, the beautiful scenery will surely make up for it. Enjoy a hike, ride a mule, or take a helicopter ride tour over the canyon. Whatever you do, find a spot with a good easterly view. Wake up early to catch the sunrise. Do the same with a westerly view of the sunset. I promise it will leave you speechless. Don’t forget your camera even though your pictures won’t do the Grand Canyon any justice.
Mount Rainier National Park – Washington
Mount Rainier is an active volcano most popular for being a hiking destination. Drive up to Sunrise. This is the highest point you can drive the car. Just park and go explore. The first thing you are going to see is all of the peaks from the other mountain tops. Take a hike, I promise you will experience the most jaw-dropping views. You will feel as if you are on top of the world. If you go in early summer, the wildflowers are in full bloom. Who doesn’t like an extra splash of color to an already beautiful backdrop? You can hike to see the glaciers, see some of the parks many waterfalls, or immerse yourself under the canopy of the rainforest.
Who doesn’t love the beach?!? I know we do! Each beach is going to be unique and have its own special vibe. Whether you like to swim, sunbathe, make sandcastles, collect shells, or enjoy water sports, this can all be done at the beach.
Fort Myers Beach, Florida
In southwest Florida, also known as the gulf coast, the white sand beaches are world-renowned. December through February is the best time to catch a glimpse of a manatee casually swimming by. We love to go shelling and Fort Myers Beach is one of the top ten beaches in the world to do so. We have so many beautiful shells from this slice of paradise.
Perissa Black Sand Beach, Santorini, Greece
The beaches of the Greek Islands are all amazing, but we love the Black Sand Beach. It is so unique being it is located on the rim of a volcano. Chairs, sunbeds, and umbrellas are available for rent. We highly recommend doing so. That way you can easily kick back and relax the day away. Here is our tip: Make sure to bring some beach-friendly shoes if you plan on walking the beach. It does get extra hot on your feet due to the sun on the black sand. There are many choices of restaurants and bars so if you get hungry you can easily have a wonderful meal while enjoying the sea.
Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
This horseshoe-shaped lagoon beach is great and known for being clear and calm. You can enjoy snorkeling, take a Hobie Cat for a sail, swim, and enjoy the Caribbean Sea. You will have a wide variety of water activities to choose from if you don’t want to be a beach bum all day. If you feel like taking a hike, stroll over to Pigeon Island National Park. This park is home to Fort Rodney. It is perched high above the sea so you have a great view. This spot is perfect for catching a sunrise or sunset.
When choosing a cruise, make sure to port at some amazing places. Some places are a make and some are a break. A little research will go a long way. Make sure to reference our past blog post for some useful tips on ensuring you pick the right cruise for you.
This coastal town on the Adriatic coast is nothing short of spectacular. In fact, it is hard to even compare it to anything I have ever seen before. I would absolutely take some time to explore the old town as it is medieval and charming at the same time. It is also a great place to pick up a souvenir and a bite for lunch. Either before you explore Old Town or after I would also suggest renting a taxi to go see the town of Perast and take a ride to the top of the cliff for a look down at the bay.
Funchal (Madeira), Portugal
Funchal is located in the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of Portugal’s main tourist destinations due to its cultural and historic significance. I would suggest starting your day by taking the Monte Cable Car to the top of the mountain and spending an hour or so at the Madeira Botanical Garden. On your way down definitely take the Monte Toboggan Wicker Basket Sled. It was so fun and not to be missed. We enjoyed checking out the street art of Rua da Santa Maria and having a wonderful meal in the beautiful waterfront area.
In the Ionian Sea, Kefalonia has some of the most magnificent Cliffside views of the beaches and sea I have ever seen. I would highly recommend checking out Dragoniti and Melissani Caves during your time at port. Dragoniti is an impressive cave discovered over 300 years ago. The stalactites and stalagmites are said to be about 150 million years old and are an extremely rare geological phenomenon. It was definitely a cool sight to see. Melissani Cave or Lake is breathtaking. The blues of the water surrounded by the natural stone of the cave walls are picture-perfect and does not even give this beautiful place justice.
Places to Explore
This wonderful world has so many places that are beyond words. Picking just 3 was a tough task to take on. I thought of the places our family always talks about. We are often asked, so here are 3 of our many favorites.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Río Secreto– National Geographic named Rio Secreto a top 10 family activity and I am here to tell you I 100% agree. You slip into a wetsuit, hardhat, life vest, and water shoes as you emerge yourself into the underground river with stalactites and stalagmites surrounding around you. Although you cannot take your camera on the tour, I would highly recommend purchasing the tour photographer’s pictures that are offered after your lunch as they are quite a keepsake and well worth the alit bit exaggerated price. We still talk about this tour and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Marathon, Florida, Florida Keys
The Turtle Hospital is a must stop while enjoying the Florida Keys. Every penny you spend on admission goes towards the rescue, rehab, and release of sea turtles. While on your tour, you learn about the conservation and life-saving efforts of the Turtle Team. They hope to inspire so you’re educated on what needs to be done to save these wonderful animals. I loved the sea turtles before my visit. I am now more aware than I ever was. Our family now takes the proper steps to ensure the turtle’s safety, but also all sea life. This is so invaluable to me and I am so glad my kids were able to experience it as well.
Petra is one of the Wonders of the World and worth a visit. Most people only see the treasury, while there is so much to see in Petra and you can easily spend 3 or more days exploring the ancient city. You can walk down the pink sandstone caves for your first peek of the treasury, but I would recommend taking a donkey ride as it is quite an experience itself. Once you reach the city you are mesmerized by the engineering marvels of this once thriving capital and trading center of the Nabataean Empire, dating back to the 4th century B.C.
Cities are great places to vacation as they truly have something for everyone. You can go to museums, aquariums, plays, favorite stores, historical landmarks, etc. The list can go on, and on…
Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the United States. If you ask me I feel this city is highly underrated. This skyline is iconic! One of the main skyscrapers is the Willis Tower (aka. Sears Tower). It is the second tallest building in the US. Take a super-fast elevator ride to the Sky Deck for a wonderful view of the city. I would also suggest, going on an architecture boat tour. This tour allows you to see a lot of the city from the water. Take a walk along the Lake Michigan walking path. Have a picnic lunch at Millennium Park. Explore one of Chicago’s world-famous museums. The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, or the Art Institute of Chicago are just a few of the over 100 available for visits. While in the city you have to have a deep-dish pizza. Not only is it delicious, but you can’t go to Chicago without having some of the best pizza on the planet.
London is the bustling capital of England and the United Kingdom. Of course you have to see if the Queen is home at Buckingham Palace. You will if you have a chance to spot the royal family if the Royal Standard flag is flown. If the Union flag is up that means she is not. Enjoy Westminster Abbey, but be sure to book tickets in advance. Find an iconic red phone booth and take a picture. You wouldn’t be able to count this trip to London without doing it. See Big Ben, London Bridge, and Parliament. If you are not scared of heights a trip on the London Eye is also fun.
For architecture fans, Barcelona is a must! If you haven’t heard of Antoni Gaudi, I promise by the time you leave Barcelona, you will! Take a day and tour all of the Gaudi sites. Again, make reservations to La Sagrada Familia in advance and go first thing in the morning. This will ensure you can avoid some of the crowds that come as the day goes on. If it is not too windy, take the tower tour. There are two Nativity façades, which I think is better than the Passion façade. Go to Park Guell enjoy the gardens and nature paths and see some impressive views of the city as you are on Carmel Hill. Make time to see the interiors of Casa Batlló a UNESCO World Heritage site and a Gaudi fan favorite.
Hopefully this list will give you some ideas to take some of the guess work out of where to go on your next vacation. I know we have loved all of these trips and I hope your family will love it too!