6 Adventurous Family Trips (That Also Have a Good Dose of Culture)
Sure, going to your in-laws’ lake house every summer is fun, but it’s high time you tried a different kind family vacation. Ideally one that is equal parts adventure, beauty and culture. And while there are an abundance of places that fit the bill, we’ve handpicked our top six destinations for this year, below.
Seattle, Washington, USA
Whether you’re a family of outdoor enthusiasts, museum lovers or foodies, the Emerald City has something the whole crew will enjoy. Take a downtown walking tour—this one is geared toward kids—to see everything the city has to offer. You’ll stop at the iconic Pike Place Market where you can offer a tribute to the Gum Wall or see fish fly at the Pike Place Fish Co., along with the Seattle Art Museum and the public library, which is home to a collection of over a million books. If spending a day on the water sounds like something you’d enjoy, take a water taxi to West Seattle and go to Alki Beach, one of the only beaches on the Puget Sound with white sand. Then change the scenery with a lush hike at Discovery Park, Poo Poo Point or Mount Si. End the trip with a special nighttime ride on the Seattle Great Wheel for a bird’s-eye view of the city lights; it’s the largest observation wheel on the West Coast at 175 feet tall.
Calling this the city that has it all is putting it lightly. From a rainforest with canopy zip lines and snorkeling to a bohemian enclave with restaurants and shopping, all within a stone’s throw of the second-largest barrier reef in the world, Roatán checks everything off your list and more. But the best part is that you can sail there on Royal Caribbean’s decked out Symphony of the Seas cruise ship, which is a thrill all on its own. Once the ship arrives at the island, hop on a water taxi to take in all the Caribbean, European and African culture the city has to offer. Enjoy a variety of fresh fish or tapado, a hearty seafood stew, before getting back on the ship to continue the fun. Think surf simulators known as the Flowrider, a giant rock-climbing wall and glow-in-the-dark laser tag the whole family will love.
Washington, D.C., USA
Stop at the National Museum of Natural History, which contains 126 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts, before hitting up all the must-see monuments (ahem, the Washington Monument). Then, go to the famous National Gallery of Art. It’s located right by several Metrorail stops, so it’s convenient if you’re coming from another neighborhood. Replenish your fresh air by going to Bladensburg Waterfront Park where you and your family can canoe, fish and hike all along the Anacostia River. Have dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill, one of D.C’s oldest restaurants, which was founded in 1856, and feast on farm-to-table burgers and sandwiches. But before you leave, flip the script and make a reservation at the trendy new Poca Madre restaurant in Penn Quarter for some modern Mexican food in a chic urban space.
You’ve most likely seen pictures of this Icelandic wonder all over your social feeds, and for good reason. It’s affordable, beautiful and a bit different from your usual all-inclusive. Your first stop should be to the Blue Lagoon, the outdoor geothermal pool that’s as much fun as it is relaxing. Two hours away is Reynisfjara Beach, which is covered with pitch-black sand and smashing waves. Iceland is known for fermented shark, but if that isn’t up your alley, go to Fish Market for fresh Atlantic salmon and Arctic char. Walk off dinner on Laugavegur Street, which is filled with all sorts of little shops featuring vintage leather bags and Scandinavian kitchenware. Last but certainly not least, if you’re visiting between September and April, try to catch the Northern Lights. Book a tour guide who will help you find the best conditions.
Ah, Rome. Underneath all the plates of mouthwatering cacio e pepe, there are layers upon layers (quite literally) of culture to embrace. It goes without saying a trip to the ancient Colosseum is an absolute must. Tip: Buy tickets for a tour specially designed for kids complete with props, reenactments and visual aids—it’s anything but a regular history lesson. If your children are 16 and older, try a Segway scooter tour around the Villa Borghese, one of Rome’s largest public parks, then reenergize with a bowl of classic spaghetti carbonara from Roscioli. Before ending your day with a final helping of gelato at Fior di Luna (order the stracciatella), toss coins into the Trevi Fountain and people watch on the Spanish Steps.
Flights to Japan are long—no doubt. But hear us out. Kyoto is a very hands-on place for children, it’s safe and it’s remarkably clean. First, head to the world-renowned Kyoto Railway Museum to see the roundhouse platform, which has been designated as an “important cultural property,” thanks to its 100-year-old construction. Next stop: the Kyoto City Zoo to see animals from lions and tigers to Japanese macaques and bears. To take in the natural views of Kyoto, go to the peak of Mt. Otowa and check out the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. We recommend going in the spring so you can see the world-famous Japanese cherry blossoms. Then follow the pedestrian-only cobblestone streets to see the beautiful shops and tea houses. After a busy, filled day, fill up on Kyoto’s traditional tofu at Toyoukeya Yamamoto and soy-milk doughnuts from Tohnyu Doughnut.