There are more than 365 national parks in the United States — one for every day of the year. Take your kids on a biking adventure through the Badlands and witness striking geologic deposits that contain one of the world's richest fossil beds. Or expose kids to snorkeling along Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, where they will also enjoy climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and kayaking on the sound. If you have campers in your family, a visit to Redwood is a must. In addition to being known as home to the tallest trees on the planet, the parks also include prairies, oak woodlands, riverways and nearly 40 miles of coastline — all ready to explore.
Take your family's love of an activity, and take it to the next level when planning your summer vacation. Love to kayak? Don't settle for the local river or water hole. Plan a trip to the San Juan Islands, for example, and with views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier in the background, your family will have front-row views of sea lions, seals, whales and hundreds of bird species.
Did you go to camp as a child? Taking your family to a camp-inspired resort like Carmel Valley Ranch will take you back to the days of roasting marshmallows over the open fire under the night sky. But many ranches nowadays have much more to offer a family with different interests. Camps like Carmel Valley offer everything from yoga to organic garden tours and equestrian programs.
As a parent and educator, Kimberly Kulp knows it can be challenging for parents to keep their kids learning through the summer months, rather than sliding into the common summer brain drain. Taking trips to places like Colonial Williamsburg or Alcatraz in San Francisco keeps kids learning and moving, without them even knowing it. Taking learning-centered activities with you that don't feel like homework is an extra way to add education into your trip, Kulp says. Check out these ideas for educational adventures for kids.
You don't have to go far to plan the perfect vacation — or in this case, staycation — for your active family. Spend a night camping out under the stars, or be a tourist in your own community. Visit locations you've always wondered about, but never have stopped to investigate. Be sure to take pictures as you explore your town on foot, and have the kids record their adventures in a journal. Need other ideas? Try browsing through the Family Time Machine, a site chock-full of fun outdoor ideas to keep families entertained and active all summer.
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