Where should I take my family for my parents' 60th birthday?
June 5, 2009 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Both of my parents are turning 60 in early 2010, and I want to take the family (my brother (25), me (29), parents (... 60)) on a week-long vacation. Where should we go?

So I've been earning very good money for the past few years and am in a position to take the family on a nice vacation - no more than $10,000 or so all-in, but less is always fine. We've traveled together in the past - NW Canada, Virgin Islands, etc. - and we all get along well and generally have a good time. My mother is very activity-oriented and likes to be doing things (she always plans boat rides, atv tours, snorkeling, etc.). We're all in at least ok shape, but I'm really the only one who loves extensive hikes. I think the ideal vacation for us would involve interesting cities, some outdoor activities that are not too physically strenuous (snorkeling, 1-2 hours hikes to vantage points, etc), some museums or other cultural activities, great restaurants, places for my brother and I to go out after my parents go to sleep. I think my mother also gets a lot of pleasure out of telling her friends about the vacation both in advance and afterwards, so something a bit unique, but also something others have heard of enough to be jealous, would be ideal.

My brother and I have travelled extensively and don't really care if we speak the local language or if people where we're going speak english - I think my parents would prefer at least a decent tourist infrastructure. (my brother and I speak basic spanish)

Other constraints - the trip has to be about 7 days - so no absurdly long travel times - probably has to be the western hemisphere. They'd all be flying out of the southwestern united states.

I was thinking Argentina - but not sure if Jan-Mar is the best time of year to go - we'd all prefer decent weather. As a baseline though, my mother is willing to do Argentina though perhaps a bit skeptical. I was also thinking Peru might be fun.

My parents would probably prefer something like Hawaii, but they've been there before and I personally would prefer something a bit more exotic. I don't know much about central america - only spent time in Mexico's resort centers and border towns, Panama and several carribean beach resort type islands. In South America, I've only spent time in Colombia and Venezuela. So I need help! Any suggestions welcomed.

My mother has told me that her only wish is that we all go somewhere together for a week - she suggested Santa Fe. I'm the one pressing for exotic - so this has to be something I can sell my parents on.
posted by slide to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think Argentina might challenge your budget, even if you and your brother share a room. Have you considered a cruise, which would fit your budget and, if the stops were good, could provide the blend of pampering, cultural exploration and adverture your group needs?
posted by carmicha at 4:31 PM on June 5, 2009

My family and I went to Belize & Guatemala in December about 4 years ago. We did a kayaking trip in Belize, which is probably not what you're looking for, but it was very beautiful there. Guatemala was great - we lounged around some, went to the Mayan ruins, had some good food. I don't remember the trip very well, but I know I liked it a lot.

I think Central America would work pretty well in terms of location, price, and weather.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:44 PM on June 5, 2009

My family did this trip for the parents 50th anniversary. You start in Anchorage, take a train to Whittier, then hop aboard a small cruise boat (70 passengers). The next three days and nights are spent cruising Prince William Sound with glaciers, wildlife, and beautiful sunrise/sunsets. Because of the small nature of the boat, you can go right up into the neck of the fjords and almost touch the glaciers. You will feel the waves from the calving ice.

Optionally, you can at that point get on another train with a glass ceiling to Denali National Park where you'll receive a guided tour of this unbelievably scenic nature preserve. Mt. McKinley is awe inspiring. The trip ends in Fairbanks after eight days. You can cut it short and do just the cruise. Here are some photos of Denali and of Prince William Sound from our trip in summer 2001. [self link]
posted by netbros at 4:44 PM on June 5, 2009

Have you considered a cruise ship vacation?
posted by torquemaniac at 6:16 PM on June 5, 2009

Have you considered travelling inland? You travel outside of the country a lot, why not mix it up by going somewhere you've never been in the US - Knotsberry farm, that place in San Deigo that had friendly shark ads in comics in the 70s, a road trip about roadside attractions (ok that last one is a Neil Gaiman novel and not necessarily a good point)

Expensive does not necessarily equal fun. It's a big country - why not visit bits of it you've always thought about seeing?
posted by Sparx at 6:21 PM on June 5, 2009

Costa Rica might be a good bet. It's got varied terrain (cloud forests, volcanoes, rain forests, tropical beaches, natural hot springs, etc) and varied activities (tours, ziplines, beachy stuff, animal watching, white water rafting, etc). The only thing that it really doesn't have is a decent city to walk around in. San Jose is a dump and there's not much to see there. Even the Costa Ricans agree with that.

You can drink the water.

As for accomodations, you can go reasonably priced or quite high end.

The people are really nice. The food is for crap. :)
posted by reddot at 9:05 PM on June 5, 2009

Not Peru. It's a cool place but not really what you're looking for, based on the constraints.

You'd probably have a great time in the Scandinavia area but not really in January/February. And for a week from the US, most of Southern Europe would take at least a day to get to. Brazil could be a good option - fly into Rio and then choose ONE other place, maybe a nice beach resort close by. Or Ecuador/Galapagos. Or Costa Rica or Dominican Republic. You could stay in a relative city for 1-2 nights and then do some kind of Eco thing. Something for everyone for sure.

But really - why not Hawaii? You'll have a great time, it's reasonably fast to get to, you won't get sick, your parents can do some moderately active things and there's something for everyone. I've been to Hawaii a ton and I STILL love it. Last time we took a hike with Hike Maui or something and the leader was this awesome ethnobotanist that made the forest and flora and fauna just come alive with history and knowledge. I think everyone would have a grand ol' time for a week and under $10k.

It's a nice thing you're doing -- I'm sure you'll have a blast.
posted by barnone at 10:08 PM on June 5, 2009

I loved Belize in March (including a day trip to the Tikal ruins in Guatemala). There are some great jungle resorts with connections to fun tours, hikes, cave-exploration opportunities, etc; and there are also gorgeous islands with snorkeling opportunities and all the other things that come with gorgeous islands.
posted by Lady Li at 11:29 PM on June 5, 2009

I'd take them all to Costa Rica.
Someone I know owns and runs a Hotel Resort there, and another friend took a 2 year teaching job there. It's very American friendly. Great beaches, surfing, all sorts of history to go and check out.
To much for me to talk about.
They also have an great phone system. Very American, which allows for all cells to work, in some cases with out any additional charges, depending on your plan.

posted by QueerAngel28 at 12:34 AM on June 6, 2009

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