If you are planning your next family vacation and want to shake things up a bit, have I got some exciting destinations to share with you! Expedia Viewfinder challenged me to put together a list of great family travel for 2015, including places families could go looking for adventure. This year, I want you to think outside the vacation box, step away from the typical resort pools and kids’ clubs and take your family vacation to the next level. These family vacations are not only are exciting, but they will inspire, educate and create memories to last a lifetime.
Vista Verde – Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Vista Verde Ranch is a luxury guest ranch located just north of Steamboat Springs, CO. Visiting a dude ranch has always been on my bucket list, and from the looks of it, Vista Verde is the place to go! Not only is the riding program top-notch with great horses, tons of instruction, and beautiful trails, but this ranch offers so much more. Other activities include mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, rock climbing, wild yoga, cooking classes, wine tasting and even a hands-on photography workshop. The Kids program is filled with a variety of activities, including a ropes course, scavenger hunts, panning for gold and painting on horses! They offer 7-night stays during the summer, and Vista Verde is an all inclusive ranch — all meals and activities are covered. It’s a good idea to book sooner than later, as they usually are fully booked for the summer.
2. Cave Tubing
Cave’s Branch Jungle Lodge – Belize
Enter the exciting world of rivers disappearing into the underworld as you float on inner tubes with only your headlamp to light your way. Sound exciting? It sure does to me — sign me up! Caves Branch Jungle Lodge in Belize is non-stop adventure, whether you are hiking through caves, rappelling down a 300-foot cliff, exploring the Mayan underground or cruising the seven miles of underground rivers. For 19 years, Ian Anderson has been creating wild adventures for families, they have stepped up their services to include first rate amenities that brings them up in standard, which includes five star tree houses, but they are not a resort and still remain a rustic jungle lodge. The youngest age for a cave expedition is seven years old, and many of the cave trips are for 10 years and older. Caves Branch is not for everyone, so be sure to check the website to make sure you and your children will be comfortable and your little ones can participate.
Check out Expedia’s viewfinder for more Belize photo inspiration
3. Family RaftingTrip
Southwest Sampler, Utah
Western River Expeditions provides stunning family rafting trips alongside the beautiful red rocks of Utah. Their Southwest Sampler is perfect for families seeking a variety of activities, which includes a two-night stay at the Gonzo Inn in Moab, Utah, a guided tour and hike of Arches National Park, lunch and a Hummer Sunset Safari. Then you’ll spend 2 days / 1 night drifting along the Colorado River, taking in the beauty of the beautiful rock formations and camping under the stars. This trip will allow you to bond as a family while giving you a sense of adventure, reflection and renewal. Children as young as 5 years old may go on these exciting rafting trips.
4. Learn Spanish & Learn to Surf
Tierra Magnifica – Nosara, Costa Rica
Imagine spending your family vacation completely immersed in the culture and tradition of a Costa Rican seaside community, surrounded by abundant wildlife and one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Tierra Magnifica is a first-class private estate that sits high above the quiet beach town of Nosara on the pacific coast of Costa Rica and caters to large groups and family vacations.Tierra Magnifica offers one and two week summer Spanish Immersion Camps that combine 17 hours of Spanish instruction with a selection of activities, tours and family time that will create memories for a lifetime. Spots are limited for the Spanish Immersion Camp, and it fills up quickly, so be sure to make your reservation soon! They also offer a Family Adventure Surf Camp throughout the entire year.
Cinnamon Bay – St. John, US Virgin Islands
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be stranded on an island? Okay, maybe not stranded, but if skipping the traditional hotel room and sleeping right on the beach sounds like fun to you, Cinnamon Bay Campground on St. John is the place for you! Cinnamon Bay offers families tents and small cottages right on the beach, just steps from the water. You can either rent a tent, which has a solid floor and mosquito netting, or you can rent a small cottage that comes with four walls, four twin beds, electric lights and electric plugs. Both options come equipped with a picnic table, charcoal grill, propane gas stove and gas lantern, ice chest, water container, storage bin and cooking and eating utensils. There is a restaurant and general store, and cribs are available upon request. This will not only be a great family adventure, but for the budget-savvy. it’s a great way to get that beach front room — without a high price tag. For pricing, visit Cinnamon Bay rates.
6. Dolphin Scuba Summer Camp
Anthony’s Key Resort – Roatan, Honduras
At Anthony’s Key Resort you’ll stay in over-the-water wooden bungalows and get up close and personal with dolphins during their Dolphn Scuba Summer Camp. Roatan is know for its first-class diving experiences and their dolphin programs for both adults and children. During the week, children ages 5 to 14 will interact with bottlenose dolphins through various encounters, feeding and training sessions. They’ll also be exposed to diving and snorkeling skills, depending on their age and skill level. Oceanside discussions, short classroom sessions, snorkeling trips and other outdoor activities will give your child a real appreciation for the ocean, marine life and the environment in general. You might not have thought of Honduras as a family vacation spot until now!
7. Sleep in a Tipi
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Sure you can sleep at the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel or at their sister property Ruby’s Inn, but why would you when you can sleep in an authentic Native American Tipi? That’s right. Ruby’s Inn also has RV and campgrounds where you can rent a tipi for the night. How cool is that? These are the closest accommodations to Bryce Canyon National Park, a must-see and must-do destination as one of Utah’s most beautiful red rock parks. The best way to see Bryce Canyon is either by horseback, where you’ll literally ride on the trails used by outlaw Butch Cassidy, or by the popular ATV tours. Next to Bryce Canyon is Zion National Park, where you can explore even more hiking trails, mountain biking and rock climbing.
8. Luxury Wilderness Resort
Big Cedar Lodge – Ozark Mountains, Missouri
Big Cedar Lodge is known as America’s premier wilderness resort and was founded by Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris. Big Cedar Lodge offers a wealth of outdoor adventure perfect for families. The resort provides an amazing lake-front setting, five swimming pools and land and water adventures ranging from bass fishing, water skiing and lake cruises to campfire wagon tours and horseback riding. The children’s adventure program is for ages 4 – 12, and kids receive a backpack filled with adventure tools and a hat for collecting pins. Adventure pins include BB gun safety and training, camping, tent making, fire building, rocks and fossils, canoeing and plant and animal identification. I know my kids would love to earn and collect all these pins.
9. Adventure in the Rainforest
The Springs – Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The Springs is a luxury resort nestled in the middle of the rainforest in Costa Rica and has one of the best views of the Arenal Volcano. The Springs is a spectacular resort with large, lagoon-style pools, and a secluded section of hot springs and waterfalls called Perdido Springs (Lost Springs). These pools are surrounded by lush tropical plants, and in the middle of this hidden oasis is a small jungle bar and a water flume called the Monkey Slide. Sitting just below the resort, lagoon pools and springs is Club Rio, an outdoor center with river kayaking, river tubing, rock climbing and rappelling, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking nature tours and a Wildlife Preserve for rescued animals. Not far from the resort you can also visit the popular Arenal Hanging Bridges and zip line through the jungle at Sky Trek. We have actually been here, and our family had an absolute blast.
Baja California / Mexico
ROW Sea Kayak Adventures features a family-friendly kayaking trip that is easily accessible from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Isla Espiritu Santo Kayak Sojourn takes you to the tranquil waters surrounding Isla Espirito Santo, a National Park and UNESCO Biosphere located just north of La Paz, Baja. The island features numerous deep coves, fantastic rock formations and beautiful white-sand beaches voted by Travel Magazine as some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit) Island is uninhabited, and you’ll spend days 5 days / 4 nights snorkeling with hundreds of tropical fish, sea lions, parrot fish, and sometimes even dolphins. Trips from mid-January to late March may be combined with their Pacific Coast whale camp to see grey whales and their calves! What could be better than that!?
Where will you take your family in 2015?
Disclosure: This was a post written in partnership with Expedia, however, I personally selected all of these locations and trips. All my savvy thoughts and sassy opinions are my own.