4 Active Family Vacations


Dude Ranch Vacations

If you love horses, then you'll love recommendation # 1 for your fun family getaways: Paradise Guest Ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming.

Surrounded by mountains, rivers, pastures and a zoos worth of wildlife, this dude ranch is the ideal spot to introduce your family (best for 3-year-olds and up) to serious nature, in the form of moose, elk, bobcats and coyotes – and an ideal spot for one of your family vacations.

Get active with the kids on your dude ranch vacations: When you're not playing Uno on the porch of your log cabin or roaming the 15-acre grounds of this rustic yet modern ranch, you'll be exploring it on horseback. Wrangler-led rides (for all levels) into the majestic Bighorn Mountains range from two-hour jaunts to overnight excursions that include a y-shing side trip. Evening entertainment includes a low-pressure family talent show, singing, square dancing and roasting marshmallows.

Head out on your own during your family getaways: Guarantee yourself some solo time by reserving a spot for your kids (all ages; only children 2 and up are allowed after noon, though) in the Young Bucks program, which features rides, as well as tie-dyeing sessions and swimming. Choose a quiet hike through wildflowers to see the red rocks at Crazy Woman Canyon, sign up for a y-shing lesson along the Powder River or just grab a lounge chair and read.

The fine print for your family vacations at the ranch: A one-week stay (May 28-Aug. 27) starts at $1,200 per adult, $350 and up for kids 2 and older, including all meals, kids programs, lodging and activities.

Contact: paradiseranch.com, 307-684-7876

If you like to be on the water, then you'll love rafting vacations with Holiday Expeditions Destination Canyon Rafting in Green River, Utah.

Adults (and school-age kids) will love the chance to escape everything -- crowds, traffic, even indoor plumbing! -- on this rafting trip through some of Utah's most breathtaking wilderness.

Get active with the kids on your rafting vacations: The white water doesn't get too big on this 84-mile oat through mile-deep canyons, but a handful of the 60-plus rapids will get your adrenaline pumping. Stretch your legs on daily hikes to abandoned homesteads from the late 1800s and centuries-old petroglyphs. Before the sun sets, you'll pitch camp on a white-sand beach and still have time to play in the river while the guides prepare fresh salmon for dinner.

Head out on your own during your family getaways: To experience the white water up close, you can jump ship and paddle solo in an inflatable kayak for a while (children 8 and older can do the same, entirely supervised, on certain stretches). Off the water, take a hike while the guides help the kids make candles or plan an act for the weekly talent show.

The fine print for your family getaways: Five- to six-day trips run from May to August; $908/$975 per adult, $708/$775 for kids (the minimum age is 5), including all meals, tents and activities.

Contact: bikeraft.com, 800-624-6323

If you crave urban adventure, then spend one of your family getaways in Washington D.C., using the Omni Shoreham Hotel as home base.

Gear up with comfy sneakers, a city map and an umbrella stroller for a walking vacation with a side of history, culture and wildlife in your urban vacations in the Capital.

Get active with the kids on your urban vacations: Set up home base at the centrally located Omni Shoreham Hotel, which is ideal both for kids (at check-in, they receive an activity bag, with a deck of cards, crayons and a coloring book) and adults (spacious rooms feature WiFi). Then, head four blocks over to the endless pathways in the National Zoo. Tai Shan, a 1-year-old panda cub, is a must-see, but go early -- many animals nap in the afternoon. Walk the monuments or the galleries at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Sick of pounding the pavement? Rent a paddle boat at Tidal Basin Paddle Boats or rent some wheels at Bike the Sites and cycle around the Mall.

Head out on your own during your family getaways: Arrange for a babysitter -- the Omni's concierge can provide contact numbers -- then hit the fitness center, go running on the paved path in Rock Creek Park (which also has a golf course) next to the hotel, or browse the art galleries in Dupont Circle. If escaping the kids isn't an option, check out a free Get Fit Kit, which includes dumbbells, a resistance band and a mat, from the front desk. Work up a sweat in your room while the kids watch movies on-demand.

The fine print for your family getaways: Room rates for the Omni start at $199 per night.

Contact: omnihotels.com, 800-843-6664

If you like lots of activities in your all inclusive family vacations, then Club Med at Sandpiper, Florida is our recommendation for you.

From water polo and in-line skating to building sandcastles, your entire family can stay occupied at this all-inclusive resort that's open year-round.

Get active with the kids during your all inclusive family vacations: Located one hour north of West Palm Beach on the St. Lucie Waterway, Sandpiper offers typical Florida fare -- golf, tennis, waterskiing -- mixed with the unexpected, such as archery lessons, flying trapeze and circus school. Of course, you can also spend the day in any of five pools (one just for kids) at the resort. If you crave even more action, grab a shuttle to Sea World, Universal Studios or the Kennedy Space Center, all about a two-hour drive away.

Head out on your own: The kids program separates children by age group for puppet shows, face painting, arts and crafts, juggling and hip-hop dance lessons. After dropping off your kids, you can hit the gym or swim laps in the adult pool. Choose from half a dozen classes, offered in partnership with Crunch gyms, including Kardio Katami Kickbox, a martial-arts workout that uses a weighted bar (it looks like a lat-pull-down attachment). Follow up with a stress-busting massage, or claim a shady chair poolside.

The fine print for your family getaways: Seven nights start from $875 per adult, $483 for kids 4-15 and $263 for kids 2-3; includes food and drink, lodging and most activities. Kids programs for ages 4-17 are included with the price; admission for kids 3 and under is $40 per day.

Contact: clubmed.com, 888-932-2582

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