Keeping children’s little minds and bodies busy on vacation is especially important. Relaxing is nice, but you travel to experience the world around you. While your kids might remember the décor of the hotel and the delicious desserts they ate at dinner, the things that will truly stand out are the memories they made with you—exploring and trying new things.
Often, the best family vacations are filled to the brim with activities: tire the kids out during the day so they’ll sleep at night, but give them something to learn about while you do it. Tours and other attractions are the best way to come together as a family.
Tour the World
Tours are an important aspect of travel, giving children a chance to scope out the details of the things they encounter on a regular basis. Whether it’s potato chips or whales, there is so much to be learned on tours across the globe.
When traveling to a place like France, known for its luxurious culture, it would only be appropriate to enjoy some champagne. But is that really possible with the kids in tow? Of course it is! The best family vacations are ones where parents and kids can enjoy different aspects of the same places. In Reims, take a tour that outlines the winemaking process and shows you around the deep, cool chalk caves that store the champagne. During tasting seasons, some tours even provide kids with non-alcoholic juices. Further east, Italy is the perfect spot to learn about the history of wine. A tour of Barolo’s wine museum, or WiMu, appeals to both parents and children as it focuses on wine’s role and appearance in art, literature, music, movies and nature. Closer to home, we can enjoy a similar experience learning about (and tasting!) wine with a tour of California’s vineyards.
Tasty concoctions like champagne and wine are interesting to learn about, but why not mix in some snacks? In Pennsylvania, make a beeline for the Utz Potato Chip Factory, where little ones will get excited over seeing each step in the chip-making process. As far as cheap family vacation ideas go, this is one of the best.
Nearly all children are animal lovers, but traipsing through another zoo isn’t always a blast. Instead, look into tours in locations that are home to unique animals. In the Florida Everglades, a visit to the Everglades Alligator Farm provides you with a fun adventure—a swampy tour on an air boat amid alligators, crocodiles and snakes. If your child is more interested in marine animals, maybe Maui is your destination. With endless snorkeling trips, you’re sure to see tons of fish and turtles and maybe even a few humpbacks as you tour Molokini Crater and other local hot spots. You can even take it international and experience a safari in South Africa, where little ones will be delighted to see big game animals like lions, leopards, buffalo, rhinos and elephants.
The Main Attraction
If tours aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other attractions to enjoy as you wander the world. Active, entertaining days make for some of the best family vacations. Some fun places to explore are the homes of famed historians and artists, displaying a snapshot of what their lives were like and a little bit about the time period. Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello is a great place to learn about his legacy while educating youth on other things as well, like inventions of the 1800s, slavery and nature. A fun stop across the pond is the former home of artist Claude Monet in Giverny, which features a house full of details about his life and the beautiful ponds and flowers that inspired some of his paintings.
In urban settings, look for exciting landmarks that your children will recognize. In New York, visitors flock to the Statue of Liberty, an iconic destination that is sure to excite even the smallest of children. Whether you are just visiting the first level or climbing up to the crown, there is so much to explore—and great views of the city too.
Another idea for great family attractions is an active day spent with live animals. Horses are the perfect choice because they are gentle enough to bring around children, but just rough enough that kids need to learn how to treat them. Next time you’re in Texas, stop somewhere like the Palo Duro Riding Stables for an experience your child won’t soon forget.
The best vacation for kids is one where they have the freedom to explore while gaining knowledge. The possibilities of tours and attractions are endless so start exploring.