Where to go on a trip? Difficulty level: Fun for the WHOLE family.
December 29, 2016 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Papa sutel has generously offered to take the whole fam damily on a big trip in 2018. Where should we go? Snowflakey details inside.

My dad, bless him, has offered to take the entire family on a big trip in 2018. We went to Disney in February of this year and had so much fun, and he wanted to replicate that. He told my sisters and I to come up with some ideas and so I am reaching out to you, hive mind.

We all live in New England/New York U.S. and would like to go somewhere outside of the region, for at least a week, maybe 10 days.

By "family" I mean 4 kids who will be ages 3-9; 5 adults in their 30s and 40s; and 2 adults in their 60s. Everyone is is in good health and is very physically active.

* No Disney
* Continental U.S.
* Has both structured and unstructured activities
* Activities good for kids and good for adults, separately
* Not a cruise
* Real beds to sleep in and real toilets to use (so no rustic camping)

We are mostly a beach vacation family but none of us have spent much time in the American West or Southwest and would be interested in anything that we could do there specifically (like a dude ranch for a week? Is that even a thing?) None of us are experienced hikers but would be up for easy day hikes.

As for timing, either summer or spring break for the kids (which is the third week in April every year).

In terms of money, we're not looking for top of the line but we don't need to do it on the cheap, either. We are very lucky my dad is very generous.

So?? Hope these stipulations aren't too impossible!
posted by sutel to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If I had the funds, I would book a trip to Tyler Place, which I think covers all your needs. I've heard amazing things about it and looks like a place everyone can get something out of. You can Google and see lots of reviews.
posted by LKWorking at 7:34 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Our favorite family vacation is at the pristine Lake Tahoe. Fly into Reno, then stay in the North Shore at Incline Village, usually at the tail end of the summer. Rent a house then you can buy groceries and cook at the house to offset expenses. Spectacular hiking, biking, kayaking and swimming at a beautiful location. Nearby casinos, fun bar and lots of funky little towns for day trips. We never run out of things to do and it appeals to all ages.
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 7:44 AM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

The industry term these days is "guest ranch" and I recommend using Tripadvisor to do some shopping around, as the review culture there is really good for this kind of thing. Many of the ranches are attached to some of the more remote national park areas in the country and are a good way to visit Wyoming, Montana, or the remote parts of Colorado with kids and keep everyone safe and entertained.

There's also a bunch on the west coast, Sunset Magazine has a 9-best list that you might use as a jumping-off point.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:52 AM on December 29, 2016

Best answer: like a dude ranch for a week? Is that even a thing?

It's totally a thing! I can highly recommend Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. It's

* not Disney
* in the continental US (northwest Arkansas)
* has both structured and unstructured activities (trail rides, world class rock climbing (guided and unguided), adventure courses, hiking, etc)
* activities good for kids and good for adults (they can handle dividing kids and adults for separate activities)
* not a cruise (definitely land-locked, although there is some fantastic canoeing in the area)
* real beds to sleep in and real toilets to use (they have cabins with all the modern conveniences)

either summer or spring break for the kids

I recommend spring break for this one. Summer will tend to get pretty hot, but April is generally a good time (April and October have the best combination of low precipitation and mild temperatures).
posted by jedicus at 7:57 AM on December 29, 2016

Best answer: I think you'd really love coming out to CO, especially Rocky Mountain National Park. Activities for everyone (hiking! horseback riding! fishing!), Estes Park is small, but cute and manageable, and there are plenty (PLENTY) of large rental homes that would fit your whole crew plus a great (no, trust me) YMCA with cabins and stuff for rent and more activities than any camp you could imagine (which you can participate in even if you're not staying there, but the accommodations were surprisingly nice).

It's an easy drive from the Denver airport, Fort Collins and Boulder are relatively nearby for day trips to breweries or whatever, Denver's obviously here, too, and everyone we've had out has fallen in love with the place.
posted by ThatSomething at 8:42 AM on December 29, 2016

Colonial Williamsburg? Your kids are the perfect ages.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:44 AM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'll put in a plug for the Oregon coast in the summer. You can rent a house or two right on the beach, and go whale watching or deep sea fishing or play on the beach or head to crater lake for the day or go hiking or kayaking or go to the tide pools. It's a different kind of beach vacation than the east coast.
posted by umwhat at 8:56 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

My dream is to go to Tyler Place one day with a big family trip. It's like summer camp for everyone.
posted by goggie at 9:16 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Sunriver development outside Bend, Oregon might fit the bill. Lots to do both in the development proper and in nearby Bend and the Three Sisters Wilderness. You can rent a house or a few condos- lots of choices.
posted by mrzz at 9:26 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You could do a family camp in the Sierras (or elsewhere). A lot of them are associated with local universities or local cities/towns and towns (my dad grew up doing this with his family and a lot of my local friends with kids are starting to do this yearly), but it seems like there are others that are more general like this one. My understanding is that this is best once the youngest child is out of diapers.

This is a list of the "30 best family camps in North America". Here is another list of "all-star family camps."
posted by vunder at 10:20 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

How about renting a big place (from vrbo.com or the like) near/in a city, like Chicago or New Orleans? Then you could do things in the city like museums, and drive a little ways to things nearby. (We, a family of six, did a visit to D.C. like this in April and it was awesome.)

Chicago has the Museum of Science & Industry and the Shedd Aquarium, and also good shopping; New Orleans has the National WWII Museum and good music -- and both cities have good food. Other cities also could be swapped in here, like Minneapolis/St. Paul, with the same balance of urban/country.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:50 AM on December 29, 2016

Best answer: I did a version of the Great American Road Trip with friends this year (Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks) and those big national parks seem like they might fit the bill. There were organized and casual activities for all fitness/energy/age levels, and the lodges were great. We did a bunch of day hikes, a trail ride, some Junior Ranger programs (we are all adults; the programs are just really good), some lectures, some stargazing, and a bunch of sitting around enjoying the scenery with a glass of wine. I vastly preferred the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim, but there might not be much in the way of organized activities there, beyond hiking, bird watching, and mule rides. With the exception of the North Rim, there's also a bunch of assorted things to do in the gateway towns near the parks.

I've heard similarly positive things about other major national parks out west - Yellowstone/Grand Teton and Yosemite/Kings Canyon/Sequoia in particular.

The one caveat is that to stay in the lodges you have to plan WAY in advance, but since you're looking at 2018, this is a good time.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 1:18 PM on December 29, 2016

My family owns a beach house near the Gulf of Mexico, on a bay. The house is 80 years old, and is in good condition. It sleeps 12, and seats 14 at the dining table. There are 5 real bathrooms. It rents for about $3,000 per week.

There are boats to paddle and places to explore. The Gulf beaches are 30 minutes away, the varied tacky attractions of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are an hour away, and historic Pensacola about 45 minutes away.

Send me a note if you want more details.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:21 PM on December 29, 2016

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