Keeping teens happy during a family vacation is key to ensuring everyone else has a good time while traveling. When seeking out the ideal summer getaway, consider some of the following ways to entertain those sulking kids, 15 to 19. The locations are family-friendly with plenty for young ones and mom and dad to enjoy, but feature extra-special teen programs that will bring smiles to everyone's faces.

Written by Lissa Poirot

Flying Trapeze and Circus Activities

Has your child ever dreamed of walking a tight rope, learning how to juggle or performing gravity-defying spins and flips? A trip to one of Club Med's 71 resorts may be just the ticket. Club Med Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, offers a variety of circus and trapeze classes for your families future performer. And when they're shimmying their way across the tightrope, they'll love hanging around in the teen lounge, where parents and little brothers and sisters are not allowed. But the Dominican Republic offers plenty more teen-friendly fun, such as zip lining in the jungle, body surfing the ocean waves and getting up close and personal with sharks at the island's Ocean World Marine and Water Park.

And even if your sulky teen has long outgrown the circus, he or she will still love the chance to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, flipping and bouncing, as they enjoy the Club Med Sandpiper's Flying Trapeze and Circus School in Florida. Kids will learn on the ground before they hop on the trampolines and learn to "leap," "lay out" and "return" during aerial acrobatic sessions, included with the stay. Another plus for staying at Club Med? The spa features teen services to pamper your princesses.


For the kids whose stereo volumes are always cranked to 11, and for those who liberate windows from their frames with bass or wear headphones practically 24/7, some hotels offer programs like DJ booths and scratch studios for them to get their groove on. Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Florida features a DJ booth, as well as a production studio for budding film makers, while Beaches Resort's Scratch DJ Academy has teens loving Turks & Caicos, which also features the Liquid teen dance club for parent-less dance parties.

Camping (Without the Folks)

As the one thing teens seem to want most is to get away from us, some resorts are organizing teen overnights (also giving us a break from our mopey teens!). For the ultimate in family fun with teens, a dude ranch gets the entire family together for horseback riding, fishing and other excursions. But when the kids want to escape their uncool moms and pops, they can join Triangle C Dude Ranch's teen program, which provides teen cowboy classes, arena riding and overnight camping or mountain biking trips for your fearless hotshots.

Swimming with Dolphins

No matter how cool your teen may be, there isn't a single teen who won't be smiling and giggling like a 6-year-old when swimming one on one with playful porpoises. At the mega-family-friendly Atlantis Resort complex in the Bahamas (nearly two dozen pools and water parks!), it's the dolphin encounter program that teens will remember most, which hosts a variety of programs ranging from shallow water interactions to deep water swims -- all in the resort's world-class, 14-acre marine habitat. The resort's teen CRUSH Club, spa treatments and rock climbing center won't hurt, either.

Mountaineering Adventures

For your adventurous, outdoor-loving teens, enroll them in the Monday through Thursday High Adventure Experience Camp at Smugglers' Notch for zip lining, waterfall climbs, gorge crossing across a (scary) bridge and rock climbing. Not enough? The Vermont resort understands that fickle teens don't even like to hang out with younger teens, so they split their teen activities and clubs into 13 to 15 and 16 and up, with special times and events to include preteens 11 to 13 in some activities. Activities include high and low rope adventure courses, climbing walls, survival challenges, air boarding and kayaking, along with things like pingpong tournaments, dodgeball, dance parties and graffiti art lessons.

Clubbin' on the Sea

Cruises can be plenty of fun for the whole family, but with typically crowded cabins and limited deck space, teens can feel cramped. On Norwegion Cruise Line's NYC-based Breakaway ship offers stircrazy teens a wonderful retreat from mom and dad with their club, Entourage. Styled like a real adult lounge (sans adults), kids are invited to come hang out, play games, interact and have fun. The club's gaming stations include foosball, air hockey and a DJ emulator. At night, Entourage turns into a full-on disco, complete with teen-friendly raves called "Glow Parties," Suit and Tie Nights, Casino Nights, Mardi Gras and more. And best thing of all? No parents allowed! This feature will also be available on NCL's brand new cruise ship, Getaway, launching in 2014.

Surf Lessons

If your kids are interested in hanging 10, there isn't a better place than Hawaii's North Shore. A number of Hawaiian resorts offer connections to surf schools, with lessons held right on their beaches, including Turtle Bay Resort, which features the Hans Hedemann Surf School for beginners to advanced. Group, semi-private and private lessons are available for kids 13 and up. Teens may even let you drag them to Disney World Resorts and pretend to smile at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, which also offers surfing lessons.

SCUBA Diving

Adventurous teens will love teen-only diving excursions at island resorts in the Caribbean. At Franklyn D. Resort & Spa in Jamaica (ultra family-friendly with nannies and kids programs for infants, toddlers, school-aged kids, and pre-teens, as well as teens) your kids can learn to scuba dive and getaway on a teen scuba trip to the Cayman Trench through a collaboration with S.C.U.B.A. Jamaica. The resort also provides teen snorkeling trips, kayaking races, bike tours, basketball tournament, a disco, a teen game room, and other supervised outings.

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8 Gnarly Adventures for Teens
Club Med Sandpiper Bay Reviews
vostersp - Feb 12th, 2015

Don't us the transportation service the club med uses, the resort it self is great. The service is fantastic, the Go's are very nice and professional. The problem is that club Med outsources the transportation service to a limo company. They are ... read more
dwo1023 - Sep 8th, 2011

Our positive experience started with our warm and welcoming arrival. Greeters with cool menthol wipes and ice water welcomed our four families. The check in process was organized and pleasant. We were assigned a GO that was available to us for ... read more
Club Med Sandpiper Bay reviews
Beaches Turks & Caicos Reviews
banout - Feb 1st, 2015

Amazing, the resort is the best place on earth I have personally been there 5 times my self. Let me tell you a little bit about the place, well let's say that you are in the pool and are very thirsty there is a swim-up bar with any drink you can ... read more
shybar - Jan 10th, 2015

Location: about a 15 minute ride from the airport. Beaches will have a van at the airport to pick you up for free! That may not sound that great, but in our case where we had one of our wedding party guest arrive a day later than the rest of our ... read more
Beaches Turks & Caicos reviews
Triangle C Dude Ranch Reviews
Be the first to write a Triangle C Dude Ranch review!
Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas Reviews
Sun Bum - Mar 3rd, 2015

This place is awful and way overpriced. Any resort in Florida blows it away. The rooms are damp and smelly -- if you have allergies to mold -- be prepared to suffer. A gratuity of 15% is added to everything so the staff just doesn't care about ... read more
trentorley - Mar 31st, 2014

This was my fourth visit to Atlantis and the resport service has gone down considerably over the last two years. Basic things such as clean towels and face cloths not being refreshed were an every day occurence. The prompt response team did not ... read more
Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas reviews
Smugglers' Notch Reviews
dcosmob2 - Mar 25th, 2015

I spent 5 days with my son and 6 year old grandson. We had such a wonderful time. At first I wasn't going to ski as I hadn't done so in many years. The staff was very helpful and patient and so I ended up renting equipment and booking a lesson. My ... read more
mgjanus - Mar 22nd, 2015

We've been going to Smuggs for 25 years. We love it for its family programs, its philosophy of providing for a wide variety of experiences, and its customer friendly staff. We love not having to use our vehicle to get around during our vacation. ... read more
Smugglers' Notch reviews
Turtle Bay Resort Reviews
rtferg - Jun 4th, 2013

Best vacation i ever had. hotel was wonderful lots to do. golfing horse back riding and the beach.loved watching the surfers. rooms were big and very clean. staff was wonderful we did not need for anything. Location close to everything. Would love ... read more
Cyndihaig - Apr 7th, 2013

I am submitting this review for the simple reason that I wish I could have read true reports before choosing this resort. Do not stay at Turtle Bay Resort. It is not worth the dollar you are spending up front. It is not worth the daily $25.00 ... read more
Turtle Bay Resort reviews
Franklyn D. Resort & Spa Reviews
yaccova - Feb 26th, 2015

We recently returned from our first visit to the FDR resort. This place is ideal for families with children and also wonderful for extended families (i.e. grandparents) who want to spend time together, have old-school fun, and also enjoy "grown-up" ... read more
AnnetteMac - Jun 25th, 2013

Just returned from FDR Resort in Runaway Bay. This was my 4th year and my new husband's 2nd visit to FDR Resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Is this a fancy resort place...absolutely not! It's just comfortable and home and most important, very clean! ... read more
Franklyn D. Resort & Spa reviews

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