Alternative destinations for a family vacation

Posted by on October 4, 2012

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A vacation is intended to be an opportunity to get away from it all and to see and try new things.  That can be difficult to pull off, though, when the family goes to the same few places year after year.  Fortunately, putting excitement back into a family vacation can be as simple as finding some alternatives for destinations that have gone a bit stale.  The world, after all, is a big place.  Why not explore more of it?

Tampa, Florida

So many Florida vacationers head to Orlando that it’s almost a cliché.  The Sunshine State, however, has a lot more to offer than just a single city.  Tampa Bay, located just a couple of hours away, is not only less expensive, it’s also right on the coast.

Tampa, Florida in Color

Tampa, Florida in Color

This means that in addition to roller coaster amusement parks like Busch Gardens, Tampa provides outstanding access to the Gulf of Mexico, where families can indulge in adventures as varied as deep-sea fishing and scuba diving.

Arches National Park, Utah

Families that like to camp also need alternative destinations sometimes.  The two most famous National Parks in the U.S.A., Yosemite and Yellowstone, are also the most crowded and expensive.  Arches National Park, on the other hand, charges only $10 for a full week of unlimited entry – as long as the whole family can fit into one vehicle, that is.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

The scenery at this park is beyond spectacular, consisting largely of enormous sandstone arches and other formations that have been formed over eons by the natural forces of wind and water.  Popular visitor activities in the park include taking nature hikes, such as the guided trail to the “Fiery Furnace,” where narrow canyons turn the trail into a labyrinth.

Mammoth Lakes, California

Aspen, Colorado is a premier ski destination in the United States, but families looking for something a little different should consider heading out to Mammoth Lakes, California.  A scenic drive north from Los Angeles on Highway 395 takes vacationers through Red Rock Canyon and past extinct volcanoes along the way.

Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Lakes, California

Since Mammoth Mountain is itself a dormant volcano, its upper slopes are treeless, which makes for a liberating skiing experience with nothing to block the view as you descend.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Lake Huron’s Mackinac Island, sandwiched between the two vast peninsulas that form the state of Michigan, is a treasure trove of American history.  This makes it perfect for families with school-aged children who are studying topics such as; the Native Americans, the fur trade, the Revolutionary War, or the War of 1812, which featured two battles on the island.  In fact, the entire island is considered so historically significant that it has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Most of the island is part of a state park these days, but there are still plenty of Mackinac Island Hotels available to welcome families.  These resort hotels date from the late 19th century, when the island was a resort playground for the rich.  To this day, visiting the island can be like stepping back in time, and not just because of buildings like the Victorian Grand Hotel.  The almost total lack of motor vehicles also serves to transport visitors back to a quieter era, before technology tended to isolate people from one another.  For a family vacation, what could be better than that?

Photo 1: Rao Fu , Photo 2: Utah Images – Douglas Pulsipher , Photo 3: valguz488, Photo 4: greg194799

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