Guest post from Melanie Grosjean of Travel-Wise
When planning a family vacation, it can be tempting to just select those tried and true destinations that are notoriously good for kids. While these can be enjoyable in their own right, it can also be worthwhile to go off the beaten path.
If you’re looking for something a bit different for your family vacation this year, skip the crowds and check out these lesser-known, and very family-friendly destinations.
From beaches and waterparks to a working farm-resort, a resort island on the Great Lakes and even Alaska, these destinations may not make everyone’s bucket list, but they are certain to leave your family with a lifetime of memories.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
If your kids (or you) love water, then you absolutely must book a trip to the Wisconsin Dells. Unofficially known as the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” the area has a particularly high concentration of both outdoor and indoor water parks as well as other attractions such as amusement parks, miniature golf, zip lining and much more. There are also plenty of dining opportunities, as well as wineries and brewhouses for mom and dad.
Noah’s Ark Water Park and Mount Olympus Water and Theme Park are among our favorite parks in the area. Many hotels and resorts even have their own water park right on the property. In addition to water parks and entertainment, the Dells is in a beautiful part of the state where outdoor recreation opportunities abound, such as camping and hiking at Mirror Lake State Park nearby.
Tybee Island, Georgia
The Atlantic Coast has a large number of family-friendly beaches. However, if you are looking for something a bit more laid back and less crowded than other beaches in the area, check out Tybee Island. The Island is a small barrier island off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. The beaches on Tybee Island are the perfect place to relax and enjoy time together as a family without many distractions. At the same time, you are close enough to Savannah to still be able to enjoy the amenities of that beautiful Southern city.
During your stay on Tybee, check out Fort Screven in the north to see authentic 19th-century armaments. Or, visit the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum to learn about a historical, 18th century lighthouse that is still operating to this day.
Lukan’s Farm Resort, Pennsylvania
The Poconos region of Pennsylvania has many family-friendly resorts, but this property stands out from the others. The resort is situated nearby stunning lakes and beautiful mountain peaks offering plenty of nature to explore and providing a beautiful backdrop for resort activities.
The resort itself has a wide range of activities and amenities for families such as fishing, hiking, miniature golf, a petting zoo and sports facilities for basketball, tennis and volleyball. Lukan’s has a working farm and the on-site restaurant crafts gorgeous dishes from the harvest each day. There are so many activities that you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
Dream of owning a house on the beach? The Outer Banks has some of the best and most affordable beachfront housing rentals in the country. During your visit, you will have your own private stretch of sand on some of the finest beaches on the Atlantic. The beaches are wide and great for sea-shelling, sunbathing or just playing in the waves.
Family-friendly attractions along the Outer Banks include several lighthouses such as the Cape Hatteras Light, Bodie Island and Currituck Lighthouses. The Children at Play Museum, the North Carolina Aquarium, Jeanette’s Pier and the Wright Brothers National Memorial are some of our toddler daughter’s favorite places to spend time on the Outer Banks.
Alaska by Cruise Ship
When most people think of taking a cruise, they picture Caribbean Islands and sandy beaches. For a different experience, take your family on an Alaskan cruise. Many boats offer a plethora of activities for kids and adults alike, giving everyone in your crew something to do when they aren’t enjoying stupendous scenery, wildlife sightings and memorable shore excursions.
Many cruise lines even have naturalists who lead on-board talks as well as guided hikes and boat rides. They will even customize the talks and tours for children. Your animal-loving kids are sure to remember the experience as they are likely to see whales, bears, walrus, eagles, sea lions and many other interesting animals.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
It’sa 3.8 square mile island in the Straits of Mackinac between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. The island’s strategic location has led to it playing a role in early settlement, fur trade, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Today the island is a fun-filled resort destination with many attractions for families and a variety of festivals throughout the year.
There are quite a few options for kid-friendly accommodations on the island, but they do fill up rather quickly, even in the off season so if you hope to visit, you are advised to book your trip early. The entire island is car-free so everyone travels by walking, biking or horse-drawn carriage. Bike rentals with kids’ carts are available throughout the island and are a great way to see Mackinac as a family.
Where is your favorite “off the beaten path” vacation spot?
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