Outdoor adventures with the kids By Katie DeTar
Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania (Flicrk: Britt Reints)
While cooler temperatures are fast approaching, there’s still plenty of sunshine and mild weather left to get outdoors and enjoy! Reconnect with your family, take a break from technology, and enjoy America’s beautiful scenery with these high adventure activities!
From rafting to horseback riding, these destinations offer everyone – including young kids and grandparents – the opportunity to try new skills and enjoy the great outdoors.
With more than 20,000 acres to explore, Ohiopyle State Park is a great outdoor destination for families. The rapids of the Youghiogheny River provide some of the best whitewater rafting in the Eastern United States, and the friendly guides at Wilderness Voyageurs – and outfitter located right in Ohiopyle – will suit up your crew and get you out for a day of fun! During the summer months, families with kids as young as five can safely paddle through gentle rapids for a mild thrill!
Other options include hiking to the park’s waterfalls and biking the Great Allegheny Passage. The GAP trail – as it’s affectionately called – utilizes former railroad beds to connect Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD. Rent bikes for the day and explore miles of groomed trail, former rail bridges, and small mountain towns.
Nearby, the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort offers a family-friendly base camp for your trip. This sprawling 2,000-acre resort, located in the Laurel Highlands Region of Pennsylvania, includes a ropes course, mini golf, wild animal habitat, and disc golf. Choose from a variety of accommodation offerings, from luxury resort rooms to family-friendly condos. There’s even an RV park and pet-friendly options, too!
Havre de Grace, Maryland (Courtesy City of Havre de Grace Office of Tourism)
Get your sea legs ready for a waterfront adventure in historic Havre de Grace, Maryland! BaySail offers fully equipped sailboat charters for up to 6 people, and can provide a licensed captain. The whole family will love sleeping aboard a beautiful sailboat, grilling dinner on deck, and spotting eagles flying overhead. You’ll explore the Chesapeake Bay, including Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and historic Annapolis, MD.
Back on land, take an afternoon to explore Havre de Grace’s circa 1827 Concord Point Lighthouse. Climb the spiral stairs to the top for great views of the bay. Then, take a walk along the waterfront promenade, and visit bakeries and fun shops. And don’t miss local favorite Bomboy’s for chocolates and ice cream.
Summer Fun in Park City
Park City Mountain Resort (Courtesy Park City Mountain Resort)
Park City, Utah is best known for its ski season and winter film festival, but late summer is a great time to bring the family for some outdoor fun and off-season rates.
The three Park City ski resorts offer mild weather family activities, including scenic gondola rides, hiking, biking, and ziplining. Kids and teens will love Park City Mountain Resort’s outdoor open-air alpine coaster and 3,000-foot alpine slide. At the Utah Olympic Park, take a ride on the Comet Bobsled. This wheeled version of the famous Olympic sport speeds down the 2002 track at speeds of 60 mph! Also in the summer, catch training action as freestyle ski athletes perform aerial acrobatics into a pool.
Family-friendly accommodation options abound in Park City, including Montage Deer Valley. The resort offers standard guestrooms and family-friendly two and three-bedroom residences with fully equipped kitchens. Here, the whole group can enjoy family yoga, nightly campfires, outdoor concerts, and arcade games.
New River Gorge, West Virginia
New River Gorge National River (Flickr: David Smith)
The best place to experience the wild and wonderful side of West Virginia is the New River Gorge National River. This is one of the most beautiful and rugged areas in the east, and offers endless family fun. Adventure seekers come from all over to hike, bike, rock climb, and raft the 70,000-acre outdoor adventure zone.
A great option for families is the ACE Adventure Resort. This summer camp style resort offers a fun and stress-free family vacation option. Choose from a variety of accommodations – including private cabins and group camp sites – and let ACE plan your fun from there. All ages can river raft, zip line, and stand-up paddle board during the day, or visit the giant lake-based water park complete with inflatable rafts, slides, and rope swings. On-site dining options include a daily breakfast buffet where kids under five eat free!
Dude Ranch Vacations
Luxury Camp at Paws Up Ranch (Courtesy Paws Up)
Grab your boots and the kids for a week of ropin’ and ridin’ during a dude ranch vacation! You don’t have to have any western skills to participate, and the options range from affordable simple ranches to luxury accommodations to suit any budget. Kids of all ages will love the family-style down home cooking. They’ll meet gentle horses, real “cowboys” and “cowgirls,” and take part in daily ranch activities.
The simple accommodations and family atmosphere at Rancho Cortez in Bandera, Texas will appeal to budget conscious families looking for a one-of-a-kind vacation. Here, you’ll truly get away from it all. Enjoy the rustic setting and wild scenery, spend time getting to know the other guests over group meals, and meet helpful ranch hands during hayrides, campfires, and farm chores. Kids and adults can learn to lasso and enjoy daily trail rides and cattle drives.
For a more luxurious experience, bring the family to Paws Up Ranch in Greenough, Montana. You’ll stay in either beautifully appointed lodge homes or luxury tents. The “glamping” tent option offers two-room canvas tents with private bathrooms, camping butlers, and camp chefs. Here, the family can experience nature without giving up the comforts of home! At the ranch, kids participate in wagon rides, scavenger hunts, and pony rides. Children as young and six can join the adults on horseback for trail rides through Paws Up’s beautiful 37,000 acres of big sky wilderness.