10 Unexpected Places for a Family Reunion

Organize a fun, worry-free family gathering in these lesser-known spots.

By Sheryl Nance-Nash, ContributorJuly 11, 2016
By Sheryl Nance-Nash, ContributorJuly 11, 2016, at 1:54 p.m.
U.S. News & World Report

10 Unexpected Places for a Family Reunion

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Con Dao, Vietnam; Tuscany; Yosemite National Park
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Create lifelong memories together in an underrated locale.

There's nothing like a family getaway. But pulling together a multigenerational get-together can take months of planning, so now is the time to set a date and decide where you want to spend time together. For this reason, we rounded up often-overlooked locales across the globe that offer activities for visitors of all ages and travel styles, making them a hit with the whole gang. Without further ado, here a few atypical ideas to jump-start your reunion planning.
Sequoias in California view from below at Mariposa Grove of Yosemite USA
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Yosemite National Park, California

If you're the type of family who enjoys lending a hand together, consider planning a volunteer vacation with Nature Corps, which offers all-inclusive trips that help preserve and rehabilitate fragile wilderness ecosystems in national and state parks in the U.S. For instance, you and the group can pitch in to help protect Yosemite's giant sequoias in the Giant Forest. And while half of the volunteer weekend is devoted to preserving national treasures, you can also enjoy expert-led recreational activities such as fishing, hiking and nature walks, along with evening campfires and picnics near a glacial lake in the High Sierra.
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Create lifelong memories together in an underrated locale.

There's nothing like a family getaway. But pulling together a multigenerational get-together can take months of planning, so now is the time to set a date and decide where you want to spend time together. For this reason, we rounded up often-overlooked locales across the globe that offer activities for visitors of all ages and travel styles, making them a hit with the whole gang. Without further ado, here a few atypical ideas to jump-start your reunion planning.

Yosemite National Park, California

If you're the type of family who enjoys lending a hand together, consider planning a volunteer vacation with Nature Corps, which offers all-inclusive trips that help preserve and rehabilitate fragile wilderness ecosystems in national and state parks in the U.S. For instance, you and the group can pitch in to help protect Yosemite's giant sequoias in the Giant Forest. And while half of the volunteer weekend is devoted to preserving national treasures, you can also enjoy expert-led recreational activities such as fishing, hiking and nature walks, along with evening campfires and picnics near a glacial lake in the High Sierra.

Tuscany, Italy

Italy may top your honeymoon or backpacking bucket list, but it's also an ideal location for a memorable family reunion. The whole family can gather together in their own 16th-century historic villa. For six nights with the "At Home in a Tuscan Villa" cooking vacation package available through cooking vacation outfitter The International Kitchen, families can explore the western part of Tuscany together, take a full-day excursion to Cinque Terre and visit Pisa. Plus, you can brush up on your cooking skills with hands-on classes from Nonna Simona, in addition to other courses with a local chef.

Camden and Rockland, Maine

Dreaming of an idyllic vacation along Maine's coast? A sailing-focused trip is a lovely soft-adventure vacation for families who want to make lasting memories without a lot of stress and planning. Sail Maine Coast offers boats that accommodate 16 to 40 people; you can charter the entire boat or join with other passengers for a three- to six-day cruise. Kids will get a kick out of shipboard activities such as tying knots, steering and polishing brass, as well as swimming, beachcombing, cranking homemade ice cream and roasting marshmallows during an onshore lobster bake. And beyond sailing, you can take in your surroundings with scenic family hikes.

Palm Island, Florida

Palm Island offers an off-the-beaten-path place for a family reunion. Accessible via a six-minute ferry ride across the Intracoastal Waterway to a quiet private beach, Palm Island offers more than 100 villas, condos and cottages. Once you arrive, you and your clan can enjoy the fitness center, volleyball, basketball and tennis or rent bikes, boogie boards, rafts, snorkel sets and fishing equipment. What's more, boat and fishing charters can be arranged, as can golf. When hunger sets in, you can take a complimentary water taxi to Leverock's on the mainland, where seafood is served up in a casual atmosphere with scenic views of the marina and Intracoastal Waterway.

Con Dao, Vietnam

If you're aiming to steal away to an exotic locale, put Six Senses Con Dao in Vietnam on your reunion radar. The resort has long been protected as a national and marine park and caters to multigenerational travelers with two-, three- and four-bedroom villas, some overlooking the water. Plus, there are age-appropriate themed activities with a focus on discovery, education, local culture, nature, sports and arts and crafts, along with yoga and meditation classes at the Six Senses Spa. Meanwhile, the whole group can take part in learning Vietnamese cooking, hiking tours and boat charters in the Con Dao Archipelago.

Ten Sleep, Wyoming

For a fun family retreat in the mountains, consider slipping away to the town of Ten Sleep, Wyoming, which is ideally situated in the western foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. At the Red Reflet Guest Ranch, the group can tap into their inner cowboy or cowgirl at the indoor and outdoor riding arena and soak in dramatic scenery. Horses are matched to each rider's experience level. Plus, you can enjoy guided hikes, ride dirt or mountain bikes, enjoy fly fishing on private streams or simply stroll along the 25,000-acre ranch. What's more, gourmet dining includes goodies from the ranch's butcher shop, organic greenhouses and gardens.

Jekyll Island, Georgia

In its heyday, more than 100 years ago, Jekyll Island served as the getaway for well-heeled families, including the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. Located between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia, today the island serves as an idyllic destination for large groups. With 20 miles of bike paths and plenty of opportunities for fishing and paddle boarding along the Atlantic Ocean, Jekyll Island offers something for everyone. There are a range of accommodations at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, including Crane Cottage, which has 13 bedrooms. What's more, you can easily tack on a trip to nearby Savannah, which is ideally located just 90 miles away and brims with history and culture.

Palm Springs, California

On a trip to glamorous Palm Springs, you and your family can live like Hollywood royalty. If you want to splurge, stay in the Merv Griffin Estate, a 39-acre property in the Coachella Valley with 10 bedrooms, an infinity pool, a bocce ball court, an equestrian track and a huge lawn that's ideal for flag football. Celebrate the reunion with an outdoor seated dinner, a hot air balloon ride over the valley, a round of golf and a visit to nearby Joshua Tree National Park to enjoy quality time in the great outdoors.

Uvalde County, Texas

For a nontraditional family retreat, the Texas Hill Country River Region boasts chalk cliffs surrounding three crystal-clear rivers and a canopy of cypress trees, making it the perfect place for you and the group to unplug. Here you can float down a lazy river, enjoy fishing, picnic lunches and kayaking along the Nueces or Sabinal rivers. Plus, hikers will have an array of trails to explore. And in terms of accommodations, there are a variety of cabins that are close to the action, such as Chalk Bluff River Resort, which offers rustic lodging and plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting.

Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho

Tour operator Far and Away Adventures offers five- and six-day rafting safaris on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the remote Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. Paddle through 100 miles of remote and pristine waters during the day with trained guides; come nightfall, you can unwind in safari-style luxury riverside camping. Guides set up tents with carpets and prepare gourmet meals with local, organic ingredients and fine wine. In the morning, you can enjoy coffee and breakfast before another exciting day of paddling. If you don't feel up to paddling, unwind in a pontoon boat with beer and root beer on tap and a barbecue grill.
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Sheryl Nance-Nash, Contributor

Sheryl Nance-Nash is a freelance writer, specializing in travel, business and personal ...  Read more

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