Top family getaways to take before the summer ends By Eileen Ogintz
Lake in Sequoia National Park (Flickr: Jeff P)
So what if it’s August and you haven’t planned a summer getaway with the kids yet? You’ve got plenty of options, and if you plan smart, you might even get a bargain. Here are five ideas that are guaranteed to please last-minute family travelers.
A farmstay in Aspen, Colorado (Flickr: Ryk Neethling)
VISIT A FARM. A growing number of U.S. farms welcome visitors where you can help with the farm chores and show kids where their food comes from. U.S. Farm Stays lists hundreds of agritourism vacation options. At the very least, take time to visit a Farmers’ Market where you are traveling and chat up the farmers or head to an orchard where you can pick your own berries.
Denver, Colorado skyline (Flickr: Larry Johnson)
TAKE A CITY BREAK. You will find terrific hotel deals on weekends when the business travelers are gone. Let the kids’ passions lead the way, whether they love dinosaurs, art, or Major League Baseball. The Grand Hyatt Denver, within walking distance to the city’s top attractions, has just unveiled a new family package, just in time for late summer trips. You don’t have to stick to the nation’s biggest cities either. Indianapolis, for example, is home to the largest children’s museum in the country.
(MORE: Find great kid-friendly attractions in Denver.)
Biking is one of the many summer activities in Snowmass. (Flickr: Aspen Snowmass)
HEAD TO SKI COUNTRY where you can mountain bike, hike, zip line, horseback ride, and bring a picnic to a free concert. The best parts: lodging is a lot cheaper than during winter and there are plenty of activities for free. In Snowmass, just outside Aspen, families love the weekly Thursday night concerts and Valhalla Nights at the top of the gondola with free music and fun. Ready to hula hoop? Check out deals from Wyndham Vacation Rentals in Colorado and Utah,and at luxury hotels like the Stein Erikson Lodge or the Montage Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. You’ll also find plenty to do in the ski country on the East Coast, like in Waterville Valley, NH.
BEAT THE CROWDS AT LESSER VISITED NATIONAL PARKS. There are 397 to choose from. Hike amid the giant trees at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park in California, peer into the ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado or explore the tide pools at Olympic National Park in Washington state. See bison and elk at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the North Dakota badlands. Wherever you go, you will find rangers offering wonderful free family programs and the chance for your kids to become Junior Rangers.
(MORE: Find wonderful kid-friendly hotels near the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park.)
Cruise ship leaving New York City (Flickr: Marc Smith)
CRUISE FROM A PORT NEAR HOME. You have more than two dozen to choose from whether you live in Texas, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Washington state, or Florida, among others. Go for three days, five, or a week. The best part is avoiding the hassle—and expense—of flying to the cruise port. Your vacation will start as soon as you board! Cruising.org, the website for the Cruise Line International Association, can help you find a travel agent in your community who is a cruise expert. If you are flexible about your dates—especially since you don’t need to book flights—you should be able to find a last-minute deal.