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6 Top Vacation Ideas for Active Families

Enjoy heart-pumping activities and quality time together on an epic adventure.

U.S. News & World Report

6 Top Vacation Ideas for Active Families

Father and son kayaking

From a wellness-focused adventure in St. Lucia to a cooking competition in Italy, here are family adventures the whole gang will enjoy.(Getty Images)

For many families, it won't do to lounge on the beach while on vacation. But fortunately for adventurous families, there are a number of action-packed family holidays that encourage togetherness and well-being. From kayaking and surfing to biking and paddle boarding, there are plenty of trip options for families who want to stay active and busy on vacation. Here are six top picks.

If You Want a Challenge…

Try Competitours

With Competitours, your can tap into your competitive spirit with a challenging adventure reminiscent of the reality TV series "The Amazing Race." Throughout the trip, two-person teams tackle daily challenges across Europe that range from an "Iron Chef"-style cooking competition in a villa in Italy to an alpine coaster race in the French Alps. Daily hands-on activities are fun and quirky but never require special skills or feats of strength.

Teams receive just 12 hours' notice before the next challenge begins, which adds to the excitement for everyone. And though teams know their arrival city when they first begin the adventure, every other city along the way is a mystery. Competitours is offering one tour this summer from June 25 to July 5.

If You Want to Go on a Bike Ride

Try Western Sprit Cycling Adventures

Cycling is an excellent way to enjoy the great outdoors. Check out Western Spirit Cycling Adventures for their activities geared toward families. Western Spirit offers 10 guided family biking adventures that range from four to six days and allow for exploration of must-visit national parks, like Zion National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

One popular option is the South Rim of the Grand Canyon family trip, an introductory-level cycling vacation that includes up to 25 miles of biking each day, along with hiking and camping. Bike along park trails with experienced guides before taking a break to let the kids earn Junior Ranger badges and make s'mores over a campfire. 

If You Want to Get Out on the Water…

Visit Boca Beach Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Boca Raton, Florida

When the weather is warm, get out on the water for surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and skim boarding. Or, keep it simple and just get into the water for a swim. Head to the new Surf School at the Boca Beach Club for daily clinics and private lessons that help aspiring surfers of all ages ride the waves.

At the club, you'll also find the FlowRider for body surfing and stand-up surfing. It's a great way to hone your surf skills after a lesson at the Surf School. The Boca Beach Club also has a half-mile beach, three pools and water sports for the entire family. When back on dry land, make sure to get in a round of croquet, take a sand sculpting class or go on a family scavenger hunt.

If You Want to Get Fit as a Family…

Visit The BodyHoliday, LeSport on St. Lucia

Spend quality time together at a wellness-focused all-inclusive resort, like The BodyHoliday, LeSport. Sign up for WellFit Families, a fun fitness program that runs weekly from July 3 to Aug. 28. Families can try out beach boot camps, take yoga classes, learn to sail and enjoy healthy cooking classes.

Families can even engage in healthy competition by taking part in parent versus child sporting events, as well as the family versus staff beach tournament that takes place every Saturday. Or, you can sign up for the ultimate challenge: the Island Quadrathlon. This weekly race incorporates a bike ride, a short run, rappelling and sea kayaking in one must-do event.

If You Want to Get Into Pickleball

Visit Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort on Hilton Head

For families who want to be busy and active from morning to night, head to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. Here, you can try your hand at anything from kayaking and fishing to biking and jet packing, even pickleball, a cross between pingpong and tennis. Introduced last summer at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, pickleball has quickly become one of the most popular activities at the resort.

Palmetto Dunes offers pickleball lessons several times a week, as well as daily round robins. Next, try surf camp, ride on the beach or book a fishing charter. Kids will love golf and tennis lessons, as well as beachcombing trips. And at the end of the day, you can relax with a massage.

If You Want to Try a Multisport Adventure…

Explore Backroads Family Trips

Multisport adventures are popular with top outfitters such as Backroads, which is well-known for active travel. They offer a number of trips for families, including trips just for families with school-aged children and trips for families with older teens and college-aged kids.

Check out the company's Dalmatian Coast to Montenegro Multisport Adventure tour. Introduced this year, the tour is geared toward families with older children. On your trip, you and your gang can hike up mountain summits and bike through wine regions before kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding at Kotor Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Plus, in between activities, you can explore medieval churches, enjoy fresh local seafood and take in the scenery.

Before You Go

Prior to embarking on any active vacation, consider whether travel insurance is the right choice for you, especially when traveling internationally. Apart from trip cancellations, travel insurance can provide emergency medical assistance. Two trusted resources to check out are Allianz Global Assistance and InsureMyTrip, a travel insurance comparison site.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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