Take an Active Family Vacation

Try a new sport or learn more about one you already love on a fun family trip.

Spending your vacation curling up with a book or prowling a new city definitely has serious appeal. But so can an active family vacation, in which you experience a new sport or activity and a new place together. Or maybe you'd use your active family vacation to polish up your skills on a sport that's already a passion. Either way, you'll come home refreshed and re-energized.


Kids setting up tent for camping
Seiya Kawamoto, Getty Images

Whether you're living large in an RV or packing a pup tent, a camping trip offers lots of opportunity for activity. Enjoy the outdoors from a hiking trail, bike path, or waterway. Or consider a family camp, a campground or resort program specially designed with families in mind.


White Water Rafting

family in river raft, photo by G. Brad Lewis
G. Brad Lewis
Yes, young kids can participate in river rafting (the not-so-white kind of water, Class I and II) and older ones can try their hand/paddle at more challenging Class III waters. Don't forget to pack plenty of waterproof sunscreen.


Ski Lesson - Crystal Michigan
Courtesy Crystal, MI
This winter staple works well for an active family vacation because each person can participate at his or her own level. Little kids and other beginners can take lessons, while older and more experienced skiers can try more difficult slopes. Meet up in the lodge for hot cocoa to compare notes!

Inline Skating

Girl with inline skates and helmet
Kane Skennar / Getty Images

Here's a new way to see the sights: while you glide along on inline skates. Anyone who is basically proficient on skates can participate in an inline skating tour. A good rule of thumb is, if you can skate for about an hour at time, you are ready for a tour. This includes kids about 10 years old and up. Another tip: Some cruise ships have skate tracks too; bring your own or check into rentals.

Running and Jogging

Boy running on grass
Florin Prunoiu / Image Source / Getty Images

Stash some running shoes in your luggage and gain a new perspective on your destination. Professionally run jogging tours are available in several U.S. and European cities (such as San Diego, Minneapolis, and London). Or simply check for a local path or trail or ask hotel staff for a recommendation.


woman swimming
ferrantraite / E+ / Getty Images

Any kind of pool, water feature, or natural waterway is, of course, a big draw for active family vacationers. Kids tend to love swimming and for adults, just gazing out at a body of water is instantly relaxing (and playing in it is a good calorie burn). Options range from indoor/outdoor water parks to state parks with ponds and streams to waterfront resorts and even a luxury Caribbean vacation package for open water swimmers.

Kayaking and Canoeing

Father and son in kayak
Paul Edmondson / Getty Images

You can find family-friendly kayak and canoe tours in destinations as diverse as Puerto Rico and Detroit and many places in between. Signing up with an outfitter will get you equipment, basic instruction, and often a guide to show you the sights along with showing you the ropes.


Family biking together
Biking with kids puts you on a path to a lifelong family activity. Bob Winsett / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Like paddling or hiking, bicycling is a wonderful way to explore nature from a new perspective and to tread more lightly on the environment. You can plan a fun family vacation around a bike trail or work from the other direction, choosing a destination and then searching for nearby paths and trails. Or book a bike tour, which will provide lots of on-the-ground and behind-the-scenes support so you can simply enjoy the ride.


Father and son painting mural
Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images

A volunteer vacation is a triple win: You get quality family time, plenty of physical activity, and the chance to help others or support a cause you're passionate about. While some "voluntourism" vacations cost big bucks, other projects just require your time. Consider:



yoga class with teacher, photo by Andrea Wyner
Andrea Wyner

A yoga retreat is my dream vacation; I'd love to find one with offerings that appeal to my family too. With a little research, you can locate a resort, camp, tour, or program specializing in your favorite activity, from golf to Zumba.


Horseback Riding

Girls horseback riding
Chris Windsor / Getty Images

A ranch vacation can introduce your family to horseback riding or offer experienced riders a chance to build skills and enjoy beautiful new scenery. Accommodations range from rustic to high-end resort.

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