New York, New York Travel Agent
Family Trips to Grown-Up Places
Traveling with children, even to museums and cities, can be enjoyable and stress-free. The key is planning activities that the whole family can enjoy and not allowing your days to be over-programmed. It’s a good practice for adults, but essential for children.
Very few children are mentally or physically capable of sightseeing from morning until night. Pushing them to the point where their energy and attention levels sag is a recipe for unhappiness. Plus, experiences sink in better when they are not crammed one after another.
I usually suggest that families plan their sightseeing in the morning, and then after lunch, head to a pool or allow for downtime before dinner. That makes it a relaxing trip for everyone while still allowing you to see the main sights. In cities, I always look for hotels that are centrally located and have pools.
I also look for unusual activities that will engage the whole family. Scavenger hunts can keep kids engaged. I’ve arranged them at the Vatican, the Louvre and other museums. It’s even possible to set up a city tour that incorporates a scavenger hunt. For example, in New York City, kids can spot landmarks they’ve seen in books, and check off sightings of outdoor sculptures such as the bull on Wall Street and Balto in Central Park. And for teenagers, Segway tours are always a hit.
Hawaii is phenomenal for families. It combines a beach getaway with exposure to an exotic culture. Plus, there are wonderful adventures like hiking to remote waterfalls, zip-lining across steep valleys and nature tours tailored to families where you can learn about how volcanoes formed the islands and Hawaii’s unique flora and fauna.
In summer, destinations such as Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal also make it easy to combine culture and beach. It’s also fun to tie into your children’s interests. For example, I arranged tickets to a soccer game in Spain. In Italy, (in season), truffle hunting with dogs is an unforgettable experience for both parents and kids!
Wherever you go, a private cooking class can be a wonderful family activity. You can learn to make pizza and gelato in Italy, paella in Spain or dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with rice) and pastitso (like lasagna with a creamy sauce) in Greece. Many classes start with shopping for the ingredients in local markets, which can be very different from the supermarket experience back home!
Morocco is also a popular family destination. You can stay overnight in the desert, take camel rides and race across the dunes on ATVs. The night markets in Fez and the Medina are also amazing. And learning to prepare tagine and a traditional dessert—most kids’ favorite part—is a true cultural experience.