Parents looking for last-minute summer activities should consider planning a family getaway. A new Harris Interactive survey found that adults remember childhood vacations more vividly than birthdays or school events, meaning even a quick weekend away together can create lasting memories.
“For kids, a meaningful vacation is one where they get to do interesting things — and this is more important than where they stay or where they go,” explains Eileen Ogintz, author of the syndicated column TakingtheKids.com.
With this in mind, here are four tips to planning family vacations this summer:
1. Let your children make some big decisions. Children surveyed agreed that the things they get to see and do on vacation creates memories that will last a lifetime. Build a vacation itinerary that incorporates activities (or even a specific day) dedicated just to your children, whether it means visiting a water park, taking an arts and crafts class together or spending the day at a hands-on children’s museum.
Explore a scenic destination like Niagara Falls, offering a Discovery Pass to adventure activities, boat rides, museums and observation towers. Or try a family-friendly resort like the St. Regis Aspen, which offers off-road Jeep tours, fly fishing and white water rafting.
2. Learn a new activity, together. If your 10-year-old has always wanted to try stand-up paddle boarding, summer vacation is the time to make it a family experience. More than two-thirds of children surveyed want to try new activities that they cannot do at home while on vacation. Find a town (drive distances are ideal, making it easy to pack gear in the car) with a hotel, resort or inn that is connected to numerous outdoor activities.
There is no better place for outdoor adventure activities than Colorado. Check out the Durango Mountain Resort, offering activities from mountain biking and rock climbing to hiking and a jump on a bungee trampoline. If you are looking for a beach getaway, check out Northwest Florida’s Destin, Ft. Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island for fishing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, parasailing and more.
3. Be local in a new locale. Rent a vacation home or stay in a local hotel (forget the gated resorts) to experience a new mountain, beach or city. Visit local eateries, encourage your children to try new foods, check out the local town history and experience local parks, farmer’s markets and festivals. This is the perfect opportunity to bring the entire family: more than 60% of children who traveled with grandparents on family vacations reported that they feel closer to their grandparents after they return home.
Located just south of San Francisco, California, Half Moon Bay is a seaside town perfect for a relaxing family getaway, with activities like milking a goat, learning to make fresh cheese, and horseback riding on the beach. History buffs can take the kids to Colonial Williamsburg for tours of Revolutionary City and historic Jamestown.
4. Divide and conquer. Dad wants to play golf and you want to spend the day at the spa? Instead of dropping the children at camp, take them with you – more than half of children surveyed say that vacations are an opportunity to spend quality time with their parents. Try a father-daughter golf lesson or a mother-son yoga class. Do things together outside your comfort zone, which will encourage laughter and everlasting memories.
Families can visit the full-service Red Jacket Beach Resort & Spa on Cape Cod which offers a wide variety of family-friendly summer activities, including on-site parasailing, jet ski and kayak rentals, a private ocean beach and three pools. Or, Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, is a family-friendly destination with activities including hiking, mountain biking, tennis, Native American programs and more.