April 2020 Seven Summer Vacation Ideas the Entire Family Will Love

Seven Summer Vacation Ideas the Entire Family Will Love

The dog days of summer on Lake Kora in New York’s Adirondacks. 
The dog days of summer on Lake Kora in New York’s Adirondacks. 
From cultural travels and voluntourism to camp trips and European sightseeing, these trips will please families who are ready to travel now, or are looking for inspiration for later. 
This article was updated on June 7, 2020. 

Family, of course, doesn’t have to be nuclear. The definition has stretched beyond those with biological and legal bonds – including couples and multigenerational clans – to those we consider family, such as close friends. Traveling with your tribe, whatever their ages and in whatever form, offers the opportunity and focus required to renew and strengthen relationships. Here are seven fresh ideas for summer travels – from camp breaks to cultural tours and trips that give back, both abroad and close to home – for families of every shape and size.
All aboard, Hawaiian style. 
All aboard, Hawaiian style. 
Photo by FatCamera/GettyImages

Get in the Aloha Spirit on Hawaii Island

Our pick for going big on the Big Island: Set up home base at the Kona coast’s newly renovated Mauna Lani, which offers out-the-door access to snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, and outrigger canoeing. New place-based active pursuits at the 334-room hotel, now part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, include clinics in ocean swimming, free diving, and underwater rock running (endurance training for surfers). The resort’s Hale’I’ike, or House of Knowledge, takes an experiential approach to teaching island traditions and culture – families can strum a ukulele or talk story with an elder. For keikis ages 5 to 12, the Holoholo Kids Crew schedules island-accented activities such as visiting turtle hatchlings, pounding poi, stringing leis, and learning to navigate by the stars like the ancient Polynesians.

Best For: The whole clan. Mauna Lani offers big-tent family appeal, with cultural programs for curious school-children to serious water-based training, such as surf lessons, for teens and adults.

Travel Advisor Insight: “For day trips or longer stays, the Hawaiian archipelago is great for island-hopping. Reaching another isle by plane takes around 30 minutes, and a new adventure begins! Interisland ferries from Maui to Lanai or Maui to Molokai take about 45 and 90 minutes, respectively.” – Charissa Melnick

Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 resort credit.
London calling: Parliament and Big Ben.
London calling: Parliament and Big Ben.
Photo by Johannes Valkama/Getty Images

City-Hop in Europe

Adults get to see Europe through the eyes of a child with Tauck Bridges’ 12-day family tour, distinguished not just by its collection of capitals, but by its approach to them. There’s chocolate making in Paris; a spin on the London Eye in a private capsule, plus a tour of the city that pits budding Sherlock Holmeses against developing Doctor Whos; and a safari to spot sculptured animals (think dragons and other mythic creatures) around Rome. Insider experiences include a Harry Potter-focused look at London, the opportunity to dress in period attire at the fifteenth-century Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a private tour of the Sistine Chapel, and, during a country break in Italy’s Umbrian hills, an excursion to hunt for prized truffles with a trained truffle dog. Travel in European style by taking the high-speed Eurostar train beneath the English Channel from London to Paris, where a boat tour sails the Seine. Along the way, time-travel to historic hotels, such as Rome’s nineteenth-century Palazzo Naiadi, built above ancient baths, and the 1895-vintage Langham, London.

Best For: Families with kids 8 to 18. Varied activities will please children from tweens to teens.

Travel Advisor Insight: “European vacations can really bring a school-age child’s interests to life and provide real-life perspective into the history and geography they’re learning in the classroom.” – Charissa Melnick

Check with your Virtuoso travel advisor for departure details.
Lake Kora’s peaceful family setting.
Lake Kora’s peaceful family setting.

Go Back to Camp

Days swimming in lakes. Nights around the bonfire searching out Orion in the sky. Summer camp makes relaxation the destination. Sign up for an exclusive family sleepaway at 1,000-acre Lake Kora, one of the historic retreats known as Great Camps that dot New York’s Adirondack wilderness. Groups staying in its 12 rooms, located in seven lakeside lodges with stone fireplaces, have exclusive access to a 500-acre private lake and miles and miles of trails. Captain a sailboat or antique canoe, hook a native brook trout on a dry fly, compete in a pickup game on a diamond where the Yale and Harvard baseball teams once squared off, summit a mountain, or spend hours simply watching the clouds drift past from an Adirondack chair. Nightly communal dinners at the camp’s 20-foot-long dining table culminate in fireside s’mores.

Best For: Cross-generational clans with a wide spread of ages. Dogs (up to two per booking) are welcome too.

Travel Advisor Insight: “Family camp vacations are especially great for older children because they offer so many diversions to get them off their digital devices.” – Victoria Hardison-Sterry

Lake Kora’s season runs July 1 through October 15. Stays include meals, nonalcoholic drinks, and recreational activities. Virtuoso travelers receive a $100 credit toward alcoholic beverages or one massage treatment per reservation.
Yoho National Park’s awe-inspiring views.
Yoho National Park’s awe-inspiring views.
Photo by Lucky-Photographer/Getty Images Plus 

Reconnect with Nature in Alberta, Canada

Follow your instincts to run, jump, or dive into a clear blue mountain lake during Backroads’ six-day family adventure to Banff and Yoho national parks. Guests explore both in adrenalized style, climbing Mount Norquay, white-water-rafting Kicking Horse River, and biking peak-ringed routes (optional e-bikes ease cycling on steep mountain roads). A few options to divide and conquer: At Lake Louise, kids have a rock-climbing lesson while elders hike to the historic Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Cozy mountain lodges and inns provide sustenance and well-earned rest after each energetic day.

Best For: Tribes with older kids and teens. Backroads also offers a range of demographically segmented trips – from families with 4-year-olds to those with offspring 20 and older, as well as options for couples and friends.

Check with a Virtuoso travel advisor on details and dates. 
On the right (bamboo-lined) path in Kyoto.
On the right (bamboo-lined) path in Kyoto.
Photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

Study Japanese Culture

Take a workshop from a Japanese swordsmith. Soak in hot springs at the base of Mount Fuji. Pay tribute to history at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park. Ride a bullet train. Over 14 days, Big Five Tours & Expeditions immerses families in Japanese culture – including anime and ancient temples in Tokyo, street-food tours in Osaka, and bamboo-forest hikes in Kyoto. These private “college edition” trips are specifically designed for young adults and their elders to go off the beaten path and explore the country’s rich traditions.

Best For: Families with fledglings.

Travel Advisor Insight: “My college-age son recently traveled in Japan and was especially intrigued by the role religion – particularly Buddhism and Shinto – plays in Japanese culture. Not speaking the language, he was forced out of his comfort zone, but found most locals to be very polite, respectful, and willing to try to speak English with him.” – Helen Rees

Check with your Virtuoso travel advisor for custom departure details.
Framing the Last Frontier.
Framing the Last Frontier.

Go Small in The Great Land 

Traveling between Juneau and Sitka, Lindblad Expeditions’ 100-passenger ships National Geographic Venture and National Geographic Quest are small enough to go where large liners can’t. Delving deeply into wild Alaska, they offer unforgettable viewings of humpback whales feeding in Frederick Sound and tidewater glaciers calving in Glacier Bay National Park. Zodiac skiffs get you close to waterfalls, icebergs, and glaciers in Tracy Arm, and sea otters and Steller sea lions around the Inian Islands. Learn about marine ecosystems and biodiversity from crew naturalists and underwater experts while getting expert photo tips from Lindblad-National Geographic certified photographers. Through the National Geographic Global Explorers program, under-18s can earn their expedition landing craft “driver’s license” and learn to identify whales by their flukes.

Best For: Adventurers from 8 to 80 with keen or developing interests in nature and the environment.

Travel Advisor Insight: “Children – especially teenagers – love Alaskan expedition cruises because they’re so interactive. Zodiac and kayak trips from the ship, for example, let them connect directly with nature, rather than simply viewing it from afar.” – Lynda Deville

Check with your Virtuoso travel advisor for details on 2021 saillings. 
Making friends while planting trees in a local village.
Making friends while planting trees in a local village.

Give Back in Kenya 

Combine a life-list trip to Kenya  – including a multiday safari in the Maasai Mara – with immersive cultural and volunteer experiences. ME to WE offers a nine-day vacation that divides its focus between wildlife and human life, teaching compassion for others while also providing plenty of Mother Nature time. Between game drives to seek out lions, elephants, and giraffes, travelers visit local communities to learn about important endeavors such as clean-water projects and lend a hand, for instance, by planting trees or building schools. The main reward for your kids: a trip that enriches their understanding of local cultures while instilling the value of making someone’s life a little better.

Best For: Teens and adults. While children 7 and older are welcome, older kids are typically best suited to construction projects.

Travel Advisor Insight: “Lessons learned while volunteering during a summer vacation will stay with children throughout their lives. And the more we teach our kids about how they can positively impact others, the better off our planet will be.”  – Victoria Hardison-Sterry

Check with your Virtuoso travel advisor for custom departure details.

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