Beyond Family Cruises: 10 New Multigenerational Vacation Ideas

Forgo a cruise or Disney vacation for these enticing alternatives.

U.S. News & World Report

Beyond Family Cruises: 10 New Multigenerational Vacation Ideas

Three generations of family by motor home on side of road at dusk, smiling.
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Satisfy groups of all ages and sizes with trip that will pique all family members' interests.

Multigenerational vacations are more popular than ever. Sure, you can spend the week at Walt Disney World or take a family cruise, but how about something a little different? Bike tours are a great pick if you're looking for new ways to explore cities, national parks and even vineyards. Or, how about a stay at an all-inclusive lakeside resort? Here are 10 outside-the-box multigenerational vacation ideas to consider as a family.
Cincinnati at sunrise watching cars cross the bridge.
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(Getty Images)

Get lost in a midsize city

Big cities, like New York and Los Angeles, can be intimidating when traveling as an extended family, so look to a midsize city for multigenerational fun and less hassle. And ideal choice is Cincinnati. The city is easily walkable with most attractions, such as the Newport Aquarium, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Fountain Square, all within a few minutes' walk of each other. Start your day at Holtman's Donut Shop to savor maple bacon donuts with the group, before taking a walking tour to find must-see public murals across the city.
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Satisfy groups of all ages and sizes with trip that will pique all family members' interests.

Multigenerational vacations are more popular than ever. Sure, you can spend the week at Walt Disney World or take a family cruise, but how about something a little different? Bike tours are a great pick if you're looking for new ways to explore cities, national parks and even vineyards. Or, how about a stay at an all-inclusive lakeside resort? Here are 10 outside-the-box multigenerational vacation ideas to consider as a family.

Get lost in a midsize city

Big cities, like New York and Los Angeles, can be intimidating when traveling as an extended family, so look to a midsize city for multigenerational fun and less hassle. And ideal choice is Cincinnati. The city is easily walkable with most attractions, such as the Newport Aquarium, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Fountain Square, all within a few minutes' walk of each other. Start your day at Holtman's Donut Shop to savor maple bacon donuts with the group, before taking a walking tour to find must-see public murals across the city.

Saddle up at a guest ranch.

Children, parents and grandparents alike will love a week of horseback riding, skeet shooting, line dancing and cattle drives at a guest ranch. Go west to a dude ranch like Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork, Montana, for daily trail rides, a family rodeo and even a junior wrangler program, which teaches children the basics of horse care. You'll find ranches on the East Coast too, such as Rocking Horse Ranch Resort tucked in the Hudson Valley in Highland, New York, which offers daily horseback rides, along with an indoor waterpark, scavenger hunts and a spa.

Embark on a family rail vacation.

Whether you prefer to take in the scenery of national parks such as Yellowstone or Utah's Bryce Canyon, or you'd rather explore urban destinations, including Boston or Los Angeles, there are a variety of ways to explore both as part of a multiday adventure by train. Try a six-day getaway from Chicago to Glacier National Park in Montana aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder followed by three nights at hotels inside the park. Or, try a four-day family adventure from New York City to our nation's capital, which includes ample sightseeing and educational opportunities.

Try a whitewater rafting adventure.

West Virginia is known as a whitewater rafting destination, so spend a week with Adventures on the Gorge in New River Gorge National River. Go rafting on the mild waters of the Upper New River before spending the afternoon on a mountain bike or spelunking at Lost World Caverns. Kids will love the Learn to Adventure programs that teach them how to kayak, fish or rock climb. And the three- and four-bedroom deluxe cabins are perfect for families who want extra space to stretch out.

Book a stay at an all-inclusive resort designed for families.

Some all-inclusive resorts cater to extended families with diverse amenities and activities, including Woodloch Resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, which you will definitely want to explore with your entire family. Look for a daily activity schedule packed with activities ranging from knockout basketball tournaments to nightly bingo to "Family Feud"-style games. In between, plan on go-karts, zip lining, bumper car rides, pony rides, kayaking, swimming and walks around the lake. Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, is another lakeside resort perfect for a multigenerational getaway.

Enjoy the summer scenery at a mountain resort.

From scenic gondola rides to hiking to splashing around in local swimming holes, there's plenty to do, see and explore as a family at mountain resorts in the summer. At Colorado's Keystone Resort, kids will love Kidtopia, a daily program on the mountain that's packed with fun activities such as kite building workshops, family dodgeball and fishing derbies. Or, try The Whiteface Lodge in New York's Adirondacks region for catch-and-release fishing at the lodge's pond, as well as access to on-site canoes, kayaks and paddleboats.

Get away on a cycling vacation.

Cycling is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and explore as a family. Even better, there are several outfitters that offer cycling vacations tailor-made for families. Reputable outfitter Trek Travel offers a six-day cycling vacation in Vermont that includes daily cycling, as well as canoeing and kayaking. Some tour companies like VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations even make electric pedal-assist bikes (or bikes equipped with a small electric engine) available to riders on select cycling vacations, allowing for a more comfortable and stress-free ride.

Escape the city with a farm stay.

Farm stays are becoming more widely known in the U.S. as a new vacation option that allows for plenty of fresh air, time to soak in the great outdoors and unwind on a serene farmhouse porch. Available in all 50 states (and around the world), travelers stay on a farm, whether in the farm house or in a cottage on the property. Many farms allow guests to bottle feed baby calves, milk a cow or collect eggs from the chicken coop. Some farm stays, like Verdant View Farm in Paradise, Pennsylvania, also offer a daily farm breakfast.

Stay at a family campground.

Whether you want to pitch your own tent or rest your head in an air-conditioned cabin, a family campground such as KOA Campgrounds or Jellystone Park campgrounds offers an ideal place for an extended family vacation. You'll find lots of organized activities such as trout fishing derbies, bike-decorating parties and disc golf competitions, as well as plenty of amenities, including waterslides and mini-golf courses. At Jellystone Park, kids can participate in a flag raising ceremony each morning with Yogi Bear.

Seek enrichment on a volunteer vacation.

Volunteer vacations are not only for adults. In fact, children ages 6 and up can participate as part of a family volunteer program in countries such as Ecuador, Poland and Greece through a nonprofit such as Global Volunteers, which devotes 30 percent of volunteer placements to multigenerational combinations (e.g., grandmother and granddaughter). Kids and families can serve as daycare volunteers, engaging children one on one and explore local cultural attractions and architectural sites in their free time. Best of all, families can embrace quality bonding time and unique cultures in a very different way than they would on a typical vacation.
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Erin Gifford, Contributor

Erin Gifford writes about family travel and travel trends for U.S. News & World Report. Her ...  Read more

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