Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fun Family Vacation Activities Your Kids Will Love

Our family vacations are always fun! Whether we are waiting in the airport or sitting in a hotel, to playing on the beach or driving to historic Williamsburg, VA (which we did in June 2009), I try to plan a variety of activities they will enjoy. Since the kids are getting older, they get some say in our destination and I try to plan out the overall events, but allowing time for them to pick one big excursion per day. For example, they have a choice on one or two days of either: a water park or another popular attraction.
1. While holed up in a hotel, due to inclement weather, or an airport for that matter, we love scavenger games. I will usually scout out the directory and come up with a variety of questions and our kids have to find the answers by asking hotel personnel, but not bothering them, or finding out on their own. For example; say we're stuck at our hotel and it's raining outside, I will come up with about 10 items for them to find or gather information about. The kids are usually split into two team, boys versus the girls. I have the master list with my answers and they get pen and paper and off they go searching for helpful data. One of the questions may be: how many meeting rooms are in the hotel? What are the names of them? (this is good for a tie breaker too), what activities can kids participate in at the hotel? (i.e. anything from video arcade to swimming, to putt-putt golf, etc.) The winning team usually gets a prize from the gift shop. And everyone usually gets icecream.
2. While driving, there's always the popular game of finding something for each letter of the alphabet. For example, we start with A and look for either a sign, or license plate or some attraction that starts with the letter A and we continue until we get to Z. The hard part is finding the Q and Z, bonus points!
3. Another great challenge, for those who like scavenger or treasure hunts is Geocaching. Geocaching is a popular activity you can do by yourself, with friends, family or on teams. You will need a handheld GPS unit. Occasionally you can find a place that might rent these out. There are literally thousands of caches (booty, swag) hidden in a container, usually camouflaged. Go to Geocaching.com, and put in the zip code or coordinates of where you are, or where you are going. You can then choose from dozens of great caches to seek out. The website will tell you if this cache is small to large (container size), to the difficulty of the find and if their is something special about the cache, such as a travel bug! Or a geocoin! I'll let you search this fun site and see for yourself how addicting it can be! (Too much to explain here!)
3. We love to research our destinations now ahead of time to plan activities that everyone can enjoy. Sometimes the kids don't all agree, however, our rule is everyone has to participate, and surprisingly, even the "boring museum" turns into something memorable for them too! Kids can go online and find out something about where we're going and staying and offer up an activity. Sometimes they even find a great restaurant to dine at. We found a cozy spot near Williambsurg, VA, called "Food for Thought". Clever title, good service and food for the whole family. We always stop to pick up brochures too. On the way home we went through several states, our two girls decided they wanted their photo taken in front of each "Welcome to ..." state sign.
4. Naturally kids will gravitate to the theme parks for a day of fun, water parks, Walt Disney World, Sea World, Universal, etc. These are fun too. Sometimes hot, long days. We plan breakfast ahead of time, make sure everyone has their sunblock on and appropriate clothing, and we bring drinks, snacks if allowed. and cameras! And cell phones are charged! We usually always get the "attraction family photo" before leaving the park. We let the kids pick out the photo and the frame now. And since my husband and I both travel for work, we try to bring something memorable home to add to our plant shelves in our home.
5. Other fun activities we love: horseback riding, a hayride. Finding something local to the area is memorable as well; such as a hoe-down, rodeo, bonfire, or even karaoke at the ski lodge. Frieghtful photos are great scrapbooking and wall hanging memories. One year, the first Christmas after my mom passed away was difficult and we were out of town for the holidays, my two daughters and my husband stopped at a Lowes or Home Depot and picked up a small potted pine tree and ornaments and decorated it during the night. They placed it out in the living room of our rented townhome in Maggie Valley, so we could all enjoy Christmas. I even brought the tree back home to Florida, needless to say, it didnt last long in tropical climate. I also love taking the kids kayaking, hiking, to museums and sometimes, if they are good, the spa with me ;-). Even walking through a live historical town with re-enactments like Tombstone, AZ or other attractions, seem to garner the kids attention.
We usually have board game nights and video or movie rental night at our condo or hotel room too.
It's amazing how some small mundane things can not get your attention at first, only to discover that one small activity can be someone's best memory of the summer or holiday vacation. For other great family vacation activities, please look here: http://www.twittermoms.com/forum/topics/share-5-fun-family-vacation
I wrote this blog post while participating in the Williamsburg Tourism and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.” (include this link:http://www.twittermoms.com/forum/topics/share-5-fun-family-vacation)

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