Great Vacations for Multiple Generations
Family vacations used to mean taking the kids to the beach or visiting grandmother at Christmas. But vacations have changed. Many grands don't stay home anymore; they're opting for active, fun trips, and kids and parents who've grown up with the Internet are also eager to explore the world. Multi-generational travel is trending, and it’s a great way for families to bond.
San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio, TX
San Antonio River Walk
After you’ve toured the Alamo and the nearby Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, wander down the steps that lead to the famous San Antonio River Walk, and find a place outside one of the numerous waterside cafes. Or jump on a riverboat, and enjoy a lazy, peaceful ride through 5 miles of downtown San Antonio.
Bob Howen, VisitSanAntonio.com
The 15-mile San Antonio River Walk, which winds from Brackenridge Park through the heart of the city and into Mission Espada, is ideal for family fun. In downtown San Antonio, it leads visitors of all ages along landscaped paths and under arched bridges, where you'll find a variety of shops, hotels, bars and pubs for adults and food for every palate, served inside restaurants or at outdoor tables topped with colorful umbrellas. Families can hop a river barge, walk, or use the city’s bike share program to see the sights, which include the historic Pearl Brewery complex and the San Antonio Museum of Art. (You can even kayak parts of the river, in the historic Mission Reach section.) Think of the River Walk as a public park that never closes (except for a few natural areas that are open from dawn to dusk), and check its calendar of events for a schedule of concerts, art shows, a fiesta of holiday luminarias, and even a once-a-year chance to canoe the downtown River Walk.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
A family beach vacation may not be the newest idea around, but this oldie is still a goodie. It's especially good if you’re new to traveling with multiple generations, so you can dip your toes in the water – so to speak – and learn about your extended family's different energy levels and interests.
The Outer Banks is a 130-mile string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that invites you to swim, surf or jet ski. Family members who aren’t into watersports can play golf, take a dolphin tour, relax on a sunset cruise, fish from a pier, charter a boat or catch a helicopter or biplane ride for an aerial tour. Of course, there's also bird watching, shelling and visiting spas and lighthouses. Running has become popular here, when competitors race in the annual Outer Banks Marathon or other running events. When you visit, be sure to put stops like these on your (sand) bucket list: the 4WD beaches, where the Corolla Wild Horses roam; the Wright Brothers National Memorial, which commemorates the first engine-powered flight; and the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. You’ll find many more attractions as well.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
Millions of visitors travel to North Carolina’s Outer Banks to enjoy miles of sand and surf, but if you’re looking for another reason to get away, the area boasts some of the best food, music and sporting events, all of which are gaining national and international popularity.
Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, OuterBanks.org
The Rock Ranch, The Rock, GA
Established by the late Chick-Fil-A founder, Truett Cathy, The Rock Ranch encourages families to have fun in some of the simpler, old-fashioned ways. This 1500-acre working cattle ranch is centrally located between Atlanta, Macon, LaGrange, Columbus and McDonough, and offers kid-friendly rides and attractions, like bounce houses, tree houses and pony rides. You'll also find family-oriented concerts and seasonal festivals here. Don’t miss the popular fall event, National Pumpkin Destruction Day, when families “recycle” their Halloween pumpkins by bowling with them, smashing them with hammers, or watching them explode in a 50-foot drop from a fork lift.
Of course, the real appeal of the Ranch lies in the activities families can do together, like fishing from a bank with cane poles, playing horseshoes or sand volleyball, taking hay rides, or wandering through the autumnal corn maze. Call ahead to book one of eight Conestoga wagons on the Ranch (each has four sets of bunk beds and sleeps eight). Bring a picnic, or buy a hot dog dinner, complete with all the makings for s’mores, and cook over a campfire. For an extra fee, families can also reserve a storyteller who’ll spin tales around the coals.
There are also many working farms around the U.S. that allow multiple-generations to stay and experience what it's like to raise or grow your own food. Some let you get your hands dirty as you help with chores, while others just demonstrate cheese making, spinning, and other activities. Check out a list of farms that participate in this travel niche, known as agritourism. Note: not all allow children.
Packed with historical and cultural attractions, fine restaurants and so much more, the nation’s capital has something for every age. Don’t let the kids - and older James Bond fans — miss the International Spy Museum, where interactive exhibits let you test your detecting skills and take notes with a cool pen camcorder. Kids of every age can ride the simulator at the National Air and Space Museum or take a creative workshop at the National Gallery of Art.
Marquis Perkins; Destination DC, Washington.org
Look for family-friendly tours you can take on foot or via bus, rental bike (tandem bikes, trailers, baby seats and kid-sized bikes are available), Segway, boat or trolley. Big Bus Tours is popular with families for its double decker, open-air buses. When you’ve had your fill of sightseeing, fill up your tummy on a food tour through various neighborhoods known for their great restaurants. Washington, D.C. is also a great place to take the extended family thanks to its many free or nearly free events and attractions, which range from concerts to the National Zoo.