The finest family adventures escort you into a world of active travel you would probably never attempt on your own. If you go beyond your comfort zone and try something new as a family, the memories will last a lifetime. These adventures should get you started in the right direction.
Written by Stephen Jermanok
Multisport Trip in the Canadian Rockies
AA's two guides transport you around the region in a minivan, hiring additional local guides when necessary. For example, on the rock climbing adventure on Mt. Yamnuska, our rock-climbing mentor was Dave Stark, a highly respected guide at Yamnuska Mountaineering. Another local guide takes you on a glacial walk on the massive Athabasca Glacier on Icefields Parkway, the stunning roadway that leads from Lake Louise to Jasper. Dinners are a gluttonous feast around a large table, where you can relive the day's exciting activities with other families.
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Multisport Trip in Sardinia with Ciclismo Classico
Other highlights include a hike up Capo Spartivento, rewarding young climbers with vistas of the shoreline; a day-long boat ride in and out of coves; soccer on the beach; strolling to the markets in small villages; and a grand finale feast at the home of your Sardinian guide, with his mother and brothers grilling sausage. After all, what child doesn't like Italian food?
It"s hard to go wrong with any of these historic vessels, so choose whatever"s available. Each boat has a story to tell. The Victory Chimes was built in 1900 in Bethel, Delaware, to carry lumber within Chesapeake Bay. Today, she's the only remaining three-masted schooner on the East Coast. The 92-foot American Eagle was built in 1930 as part of the Gloucester fishing fleet. It was revamped in 1984 and, along with Victory Chimes, Lewis R. French, Stephen Taber, and Isaac H. Evans, is a National Historic Landmark. Captains let children hoist the sails every day, and even take the wheel to sail these big boys.
Sea Kayaking or Paddleboarding on Lake George, The Adirondacks
Rent sea kayaks or paddleboards on Green Island, best known as the home to the classic Adirondack resort, The Sagamore, a large wedding cake of a hotel that's been the lake's premier address for over a century. Paddle in the morning when the water is calm, following the ducks under a small bridge. You'll pass houses on Green Island that you'll dream about owning, before hitting the docks of Sagamore and the open waters. In the middle of the lake sits the primitive looking Dome Island, a rounded forest of trees. Behind Dome is that magnificent view of uninterrupted forest forming a silhouette of mountains against the sky.
Multisport in Costa Rica with Backroads
Over the course of the week, you can zip line across the cloud forest canopy, spotting toucans along the way; take a naturalist-led hike past the monkeys and sloths of the rainforest in Manuel Antonio National Park; kayak to a deserted beach; and soak your weary limbs in a hot tub as you stare in awe at Arenal Volcano. What Backroads fails to get across in their brochures is the seamless synchronicity of the activities involved, from one to the next. Not an easy feat in a country known for rutted roads and poor signage.
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Hiking in the California Redwoods
Covered in shaggy bark with trunks the size of a Dodge Ram, you look up and it's impossible to see the tops of these trees piercing the blue skies. At the Drury-Chaney Grove, you can climb atop a fallen redwood, 15 feet above the ground, and walk a good 100 yards on that same tree. It's mind-blowing. It's hard not to feel dwarfed by these mega-sized giants rising from a carpet of ferns. In Myers Flat, drive your car through the roots of a redwood at the Drive-Thru Tree to take that iconic redwood photo. The redwood forest continues all the way north to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Stroll from the Visitors Center on the Cathedral Trees Trail and you'll quickly be immersed in this primordial forest.
Adventures in Oregon
Hood River, an hour's drive from Portland, is best known by kiteboarders and windsurfers for the wind tunnel on the Columbia River Gorge. Another 90-minute drive and you'll reach Maupin, the start of an exhilarating whitewater rafting trip on the Deschutes River. Then it's on to the outdoor hub of Bend to go on a mountain bike ride in the nearby forest. Top it off with a hike around the rim of Crater Lake National Park, where hopefully you booked a room at the Crater Lake Lodge. You've never seen water such a shade of vibrant blue, the result of sunlight pouring down on the deepest lake in America.
Yes, California deserves the hype, but if you want to take your family out West, consider Oregon, a state with far less traffic at much more affordable prices.
Horseback Riding in New Mexico
The only way to pierce this vast interior is by foot or on horseback. Tom Klumker, owner of San Francisco River Outfitters, has been leading pack-trips into this region for decades. In the saddle of a strong quarter horse, you'll lope through large stretches of ponderosa pines and tall saguaros, some as high as 60 feet. In the nighttime, you can soothe your sore bum in a cool river. Horses, camping equipment, and hardy steak dinners that could satiate John Wayne are all included in the affordable price.
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Strathcona Park Lodge
The lodge is a complex of chalets and cabins fronting 30-mile long Campbell Lake and is only a 40-minute drive from the Pacific Ocean. Strathcona's Family Adventure Weeks in July and August take full advantage of its glorious locale. Guests canoe, sea kayak, rock climb, go on naturalist-led hikes, try the high ropes course, and learn orienteering and survival skills. The highlight of the week is an overnight canoe and camping trip where kids learn about no-trace camping and wilderness ethics. Back at the lodge, there is no television reception -- just you and your youngsters sitting on the stone deck, taking in the views and the crisp fresh air as you talk about the day.
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