Shorter days and cooler temperatures mean winter is right around the corner. Is your family itching to get away after the holidays? Before you get your passports ready, take a moment to consider which vacation best suits your family’s needs. Does your squad love soaking up the sun or do you embrace the snow? Are you searching for a low-stress getaway with maximum relaxation or are you ready to dive into your next adventure? Regardless, here is a list of vacations that suit nearly everyone’s desires.
The Sun Seekers
If your family is the type that loves a good dose of vitamin D, consider booking your next trip to the warm winter beaches of Palm Beach, Florida. Several resorts offer day camp options for children of all ages if you’re looking for some adult-only relaxation. Soak up the sun and enjoy a cocktail in the warm Florida sunshine while listening to the soothing sounds of the Atlantic Ocean.
If you’re seeking more family-orientated fun, head to McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary. Children and adults of all ages can enjoy viewing wildlife on a safari tour. The sanctuary boasts over 200 different species of animals, ranging from bearded lizards and tarantulas to monkeys and parrots. You’re sure to find something to please everyone.
Palm Beach also boasts golf courses, paddle boarding and an indoor waterpark. If you need a break from the sunshine, visit the outlet mall to enjoy an air-conditioned experience and pick up some low-priced apparel. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun or explore the city, Palm Springs has something for you.
The Rest and Relaxation Squad
Are you interested in taking a family vacation with the least amount of stress and planning possible? Why not take a cruise? Cruises usually host onboard activities for sailing days that can range from musical performances to comedy shows. Meals are served at conveniently blocked-out times and include options for even the pickiest of palates. Squeeze in a workout at the fitness center or treat yourself to a relaxing massage or facial at the onboard spa—all without hailing a cab.
If you’re considering a cruise but want to avoid the crowds, look into a smaller ship cruise. Smaller ships have access to more ports and can offer a broader range of experiences on the mainland. Once you reach your destinations, you’ll have a shorter wait time to disembark—which means more time to enjoy in port cities or for excursions. While onboard, you’ll be in more intimate settings with your fellow passengers, enabling you to share your experiences and make lasting friendships.
Cruises range in length from three days to nearly three weeks, leaving from many different port cities throughout the United States and around the globe. Given the extensive range of choices, you’re bound to find the option that best fits your budget and your family’s schedule.
The Adventure Junkies
Does your family love an excellent adventure? Consider taking a backpacking trip through New Zealand or Chile. With stunning views year-round, both countries are in the Southern Hemisphere, which means warmer weather from November through March. Steer clear of this option if your family is accustomed to having daily creature comforts such as heated showers and regular hot meals.
If you’re hunkering for adventure a little closer to home, check out some of the backpacking opportunities in the United States, such as the Ozark Trail in Arkansas. You’ll bear witness to clear, starry skies at night and see gorgeous views of the Ozark Mountains. Most people avoid the trail in the wintertime, so you’ll mostly have the place to yourself.
Seeking a unique adventure that doesn’t require multiple nights on a trail? Visit an off-the-grid location like the Virunga Volcanoes in Rwanda. You and your family can take day trips to hike up the sides of volcanoes to see sweeping views of the valley below. Pay close attention and you may be rewarded with views of wildlife, including elephants and monkeys. Mark your location on a map for your friends—chances are, they won’t know where you went.
Does your tribe embrace below-freezing temperatures? Head to Park City, Utah, to take full advantage of winter in the mountains. Park City boasts two world-class ski resorts. Try your hand at snowboarding on the bunny hill or take on a black diamond. Warm up with some hot chocolate at your resort afterward and treat yourself to a unique experience at the Hot Spring Cave. Water in the cave stays between 90 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Enjoy a warm soak after wearing out your muscles on the slopes.
The City Explorers
If fine dining and evening shows are more your speed, spend your winter vacation in Chicago, Illinois. Visit the Shedd Aquarium to see the beluga whales before stopping by the field museum to say hello to Sue, the best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in the world. Once you’re done there, visit Lou Malnati’s for a slice of deep-dish pizza or one of Chicago’s many other famed restaurants. Afterward, treat yourself to a musical or play at one of the city’s more than 200 theaters.
Every December and early January, the city hosts a festival at Navy Pier complete with ice-skating, rides and delicious cuisine. Buy your tickets in advance to avoid any long lines at the ticket window. Check your coat and winter gear—the ice skating rink is indoors. Cozy up with some hot cocoa and enjoy the views of Lake Michigan.
Mix up your traditional winter vacation and try something new: Whether you’re looking to take full advantage of the snowy season or are craving a tropical escape, your options are endless.