Kid-Friendly Vacations


The Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson is a family resort aiming to lasso the cowboy out of everyone. The ranch has some 120 horses and offers ample riding opportunities.

The Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson is a family resort aiming to lasso the cowboy out of everyone. The ranch has some 120 horses and offers ample riding opportunities.

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The family vacation has become an American ritual — one that has been around as long as I can remember. In this article we will discuss vacations that the entire family will enjoy regardless of age.

There was a time when camping or a good beach was about the only choice for the entire family to enjoy away from home. Today, there are many opportunities for families to vacation together.

Let’s begin with what I consider the easiest way for Mom and Pop or Grandma and Grandpa to take the kids on something you would like and where the kids would have great fun. That would be a Disney cruise. Disney now has four ships plying the seas visiting wonderful port calls of interest and onboard activities for adults and children alike. The adults will have their activities, adult lounges and other public rooms just for grown-ups. And the kids will be entertained by more activities than you can imagine.

We took our grandkids on a Disney cruise last fall, sailing out of Texas and cruised to lands in the south Caribbean. The kids never tire of the experience even though they are kept busy from early morning to late evening. The adults can even go to bed early while the kids are busy with activities and games. The kids can’t get lost because they are confined to a ship.

Another family friendly experience and one that would be easy on the adults would be taking the family on a river cruise on the Mississippi River, sailing through the Old South with very interesting ports of call or doing a cruise on Europe’s rivers, such as the Rhine, Danube or Seine. The choices here are numerous. The riverboats never lose sight of land and today are luxury all the way. It’s also easier to budget a vacation on a boat or cruise ship because the accommodations and meals are included aboard the vessel.

Airfare and shopping are something else. Transatlantic airfares are high again this year, but you may be able to snag a good rate by frequently cruising the Internet for one. I did last fall and was able to purchase a roundtrip fare from Phoenix to Genoa, Italy for only $895. I only used one-way because I cruised back.

Some cruise lines let kids cruise free with the purchase of two adult fares and use of the same stateroom. Each line is different, so you will have to do your research or contact a travel agent who will do that for you.

Another thing to consider is which airline to choose. Keep in mind most impose baggage fees today. The exception is Southwest Airlines, which permits two free bags with each ticket, and they have flights all over the United States.

Closer to home in Tucson is the Tanque Verde Ranch, a family resort aiming to lasso the cowboy out of everyone. It is a 640-acre oasis nestled in the Sonoran Desert and adjacent to Saguaro National Park. The ranch has some 120 horses and offers ample riding opportunities: specialty rides such as a breakfast ride to a meal at the old homestead, a six-hour event; rides to picnics with lunch in a cottonwood grove and more. Riding lessons are also offered to those who have never ridden a horse. Naturalist guides offer hikes through the desert wilds exploring canyons, cacti and secret waterfalls. The kids are kept busy with ranch activities scheduled just for them.

Lowes Coronado Bay Resort is geared for the entire family with a Kids Club that features all sorts of activities for the young ones while the adults rest and relax seaside. The resort is located on Coronado Bay in San Diego on a private 15-acre peninsula with amenities that include three swimming pools, four restaurants and lounges, basketball and tennis courts, an 80-slip marina and access to the Silver Strand State Beach where kids can enroll to become a Junior Ranger with the California State Parks system. The resort was recently ranked one of the “10 best Beach Vacations in the U.S.”

The entire family has fun in Las Vegas. Circus Circus is the largest permanent big top in the world. The resort is on 70 acres of land and the hotel offers 3,800 rooms plus the fifth largest casino in Vegas. There are events for all every half hour as performers engage in airborne stunts on the resort’s center stage. Surrounding the stage is Midway, an enormous carnival filled with more than 200 arcade games, carnival games and wandering clowns. The excitement continues at possibly the world’s biggest funhouse and the indoor theme park, Adventuredome, which is home to more than 20 rides, miniature golf and laser tag.

In Oregon is something extraordinary. Nestled in the treetops and branches is possibly the world’s most unique resort, Treesort. This high-in-sky tree-resort proves that trees aren’t just for the birds. There are 14 tree houses at Treesort, sleeping two to eight people.

Getting to your room is half the adventure — guests climb stairs, ladders, even cross a 90-foot long suspension bridge. Once there, the wonder begins. At the Swiss Family Complex, a swinging bridge separates child and adult units, and fire pole and rope swings provide kids with ground access. Luxury lovers will enjoy the Tree Room Schoolhouse Suite, which sleeps four and has a bathroom, kitchenette, master bedroom, sitting area and loft.

Guests allow fantasy to become reality at the Treehouse Institute, which teaches techniques in treehouse building, a self-described summer camp for families. The resort also features horseback riding, rafting, ropes courses, pools and arts and crafts classes. And, there is even more. It is all quite unique.

Hawaii is always great for family vacations. You have beaches, mountains, volcanoes and plenty of fun activities. No one has to be bored. There is Hawaiian history to learn, gardens to explore and volcanoes to excite. But, the best of all are the many beaches to try.

Airfares to the islands are still bearable and many hotels and resorts offer family rates. Summer weather is usually tops. You may never want to return home. Stay at least a week or more. If possible, visit more than just one island. They are all different and you want to research which one or ones appeal most to the family as a whole.

There are many campgrounds in our area and they won’t cost you an arm and leg to experience. We also have well-stocked fishing lakes nearby. Kids love these activities and you will too.

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