By Olivia Orzech
We all know vacations are for relaxing and forgetting about the real world, but your waistline doesn’t know that! And when you take kids out of their normal active lifestyles, they’ll be fine for a day, but just like wild horses, they need to run! Here are a few favorite spots to stay active on vacation without making it feel like actually working out!
photo credit: wyomingtourism.org
Home to Yellowstone National Park, this state is full of natural wonders and endless skies. Meet some real cowboys who will take you on a horseback ride through pine-tree forests then take a scenic river rafting ride along the Yellowstone River. Of course, you can’t leave without seeing Old Faithful or checking out the granite hot springs in Jackson Hole. End your trip with a stop at the Grand Teton National Park where you can hike one of their countless trails or take a boat across Jenny Lake to soak up the view.
2. New York City, New York
photo credit: enpundit.com
NYC is one of the best places to keep the family moving and take in the history of a great city. Start with a walk through Central Park, which has a countless number of playgrounds, rock climbing walls, and festivals to engage the whole family. Then, go explore the rest of the city; Soho, the West Village, and Brooklyn are great places to start! A trip to NYC wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Statue of Liberty; here you can walk around Liberty Island and climb the stairs all the way up to the crown. Just know, you must reserve tickets in advance and there are limitations as to what can take up with you. Check out nps.gov/stli for more information.
3. Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida
photo credit: floridasportsman.com
Forget about Disney, it’s time to explore the rest of the sunshine state! Check out hidden gems like Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon. Here, you can snorkel, swim, and tube along the Rainbow River, taking in the beautiful sights on shore. After drying off, hike through the paradise-like park, complete with both natural and manmade waterfalls. Rainbow Springs also offers a number of campgrounds so you can stay in paradise all vacation long.
4. Portland, Oregon
photo credit: workingfamilies.org
Portland isn’t just for the hipsters, it’s also a great place for an active family getaway. First, check out Multnomah Falls where you can take a hike on one of their endless paths leading to their breathtaking waterfalls, then raft along Rogue River. Slide down one of the natural water slides at Opal Creek Hike, or go pick your own fruit at Columbia Farms. The city is great for biking, so rent a few from a local shop and take a tour around the beautiful city to finish off your trip.
photo credit: travelalaska.com
A lesser thought of spot that is fantastic for any family looking for adventure, Alaska boasts countless activities and sights to see. If you have an animal lover in the family, Denali National Park is a must see. Denali is home to North America’s largest mountain, Mt. McKinley, and offers a number of hiking paths where you have the chance to see wolves, black bears, and even sheep! Then, head to Juneau and hike the Mendenhall Glacier. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even go dog sledding on the glacier with the aid of locals.
6. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
photo credit: hiltongardeninouterbanks.com
A beautiful and historical area located on the coast of North Carolina that will keep your family moving and learning. Start the trip at Fort Macon State Park where you can visit a Civil War site that sits on the Atlantic ocean, then spend the rest of the day playing at the beach. Then, go to the Shackelford Banks, an island home to wild horses. Go for a hike on one of the trails and you might just see one! No trip to this coastal area would be complete without seeing the famous lighthouses; Currituck Lighthouse is a must see. You can climb up to the top, walk along the nearby boardwalk, and take a scenic bike ride along the coast.
7. The Grand Canyon
photo credit: foundtheworld.com
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is a adventurer’s dreamland. Stay on the South Rim of the canyon for the most accommodations, or head to the North Rim if you are avid campers/hikers. You can take mule rides into the mouth of the canyon or hike your way down. The one thing you can’t miss is the incredible Skywalk located on the West Rim of the canyon. When you’re ready to cool down, go river rafting along the Colorado River and end your day with a night camping out under the stars.
8. Yosemite National Park, California
photo credit: en.wikipedia.org
It’s time to get out and explore arguably the best place California has to offer: Yosemite National Park. You can hike through redwood forests then stop off for a picnic along the river. Then, you can go for a swim in the river or even for a fun river rafting tour to take in the scenery. Mix things up a bit and head north to Lake Tahoe, where you can paddle board in the lake or take an aerial tram to High Camp where you can then hike around the area.
9. Austin, TX
photo credit: cirrus.com
Much like Portland, Oregon, Austin is known for their hipsters and food trucks; but don’t let that fool you, this city has plenty of fun to offer. After getting the best breakfast burrito you’ll ever have from a local food truck, walk around Zilker Park where kids can feed ducks, ride a train, and play on a number of playgrounds. You can also head over to Boggy Creek Farm where you can pick your own fruits and veggies while also sneaking in some nutrition education to the kids. To complete the trip, head to the nearby city of San Marcos and go for a float in the San Marcos river; make sure to check out the San Marcos City Park before diving into the beautiful, clear, spring-fed water.
photo credit: summitpost.org
This list wouldn’t be complete without one of the most popular and beautiful vacation spots: Hawaii. On the island of Oahu, you can rent a place on the less touristy North Shore where you have numerous beaches and activities at your disposal. Get some surfing lessons, go snorkeling, or even jet ski in the beautiful, clear, water. Ready to dry off? Go for a horseback ride or a hike through the trails of Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve. For something really exciting, go to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you might just see lava pouring into the ocean!