I don't know about you guys but our family seems to like family vacations/getaways that are fun-filled and action packed. As a parent with kids in their twenties, my wish is to want them to spend time with us and not feel obligated or bored to death. You know, keep them coming back for more. Each and every moment we all get to spend together is a moment I cherish and memories we make. For me, this is what life is about. The teen years and now into their early twenties seem to be the most challenging for finding activities we can all agree on. The hubby and I are happy to hit up all the old home/architecture tours or are happy to sit on the beach and not move far from our chaise lounges for 7 days. Throw in the whole family dynamics of a 21 year old son, Chase, 23 year old daughter, Wren, and mom and dad, and the search for activities we'll all enjoy is a little tougher. Chase is not one to sit on the beach and listen to the waves roll in, Wren is. I can expect to be out on the kayak or snorkeling if Chase is along and at the Spa if I'm with Wren! Both are great, and any time I can spend with them is a bonus. But when we're all together, I find the busier the activity is, the better. Play hard and then rest. And plenty of eating.
There are so many activities to do when kids are little and more amenable, they're much easier to please. Cheaper too! They're more than thrilled to hit the park, go on a bike ride, go to a splash pad, a day at the pool. Pre-teens, you might need to hit Waterworld, the beach, a little go-cart racing and they're good to go. When the kids are late teens to early twenties, it's much harder to pique their interest for a few days and keep them off their phones for 10 minutes, fighting with each other or complaining. That's why I've compiled a list for you of what's been a hit with our kids as they've aged up.
Before each trip or weekend away that we will all be together, I spend lots of time researching things to do in the area that might interest us. I make lists and give everyone some choices. Just call me the family activity director. I find that if I can give them an adrenalin worthy excursion or actividad (as our family likes to refer to them as after Mexico trips), and a good meal, they're willing to let a little history or sight-seeing reluctantly slip in for me and the hubby.
Here are our very favorite activities we've done as a family. Read on to see which one was each family member's favorite.
1. A day of skiing - So darn expensive, but fun for all of us. We have been skiing as a family since the kids were little and most often don't go more than once a year. I like to make sure I can still do it, but I don't love it enough where I'd buy a pass and drive to the mountains every weekend. Chase on the other hand would. But as a family it is fun, adventurous and outdoorsy. And you get time on the chairlift with your kid so they're forced to converse. We are of pretty similar levels, but by the end of the day, usually pair off for a few runs. Shawn and Wren like to keep to the blues and I will do the blacks with Chase if I must. Since we live in Colorado, we have some of the best skiing just within a couple hours drive, so we are very fortunate. Here is a site that lists the resorts in Colorado, plenty to choose from!
2. A Couple of Days at Disneyland. Word from the wise; wait until they're early to late teens to go, otherwise they don't even remember and it's exhausting and super expensive! We took them several times when they were very little and it was fun, but when we went with them as teens it was a BLAST! Two days is the perfect amount of time, no less, no more. You'll get lots of time to chat in the lines, lots of exercise and the food has gotten way better over the years. Be sure to hit up the Clam Chowder Bread Bowl restaurant, Ice Cream on Main Street and the Beignet Place in Downtown Disney. I wasn't really a fan of California Adventure and could do without, but the older kids love it, so I would suggest the park hopper pass. Disneyland is just so magical, it's hard to compete with it, in my opinion. Out of the activities listed, Disneyland is Vanessa and Shawn's favorite of the shared family activities.
3. White Water Rafting. I hadn't gone since my early twenties and honestly, I was dreading it, but I knew the kids would love it. I HATE cold water and water fights. I was pleasantly surprised that these days, they gear you up in a wet suit so you don't get cold and we all ended up loving it! Shawn, my hubby wasn't a fan of the wetsuits. For our kids, the more rapids the better so we look for the trips with the higher class. Nothing too crazy though!! We are weekend warriors. As a family we've rafted in Colorado but Shawn and I have been in California as well and both places offer great rafting. Believe it or not, the American River in California is the coldest we've been on and it wasn't uncommon to see rattlesnakes, even in the water! Gee, who wouldn't love to raft there? One of these years, my goal is for us to do a 4 day or so on the Grand Canyon where we camp along the river.
4. Four Wheeler Tour - Be ready to have fun getting dusty and dirty. These tours are a great way to see some local scenery while keeping the kids happy behind the handlebars of an ATV. This was an adventure we went on in the Arizona desert when Chase was stationed down there through Apache ATV Tours. We had a great guide who pointed out the sights and knew his way through the desert. Bring extra clothes, goggles and water. We'd like to do a mountain ATV tour at some point too. This definitely ranked at the top with the kids.
5. Zip-lining in the Mexican rain forest canopy. Not for the faint of heart, as you are very high up on rickety platforms. Let's just say, probably wouldn't pass inspection here stateside, but.....So Fun and we all loved it! We made a whole day trip of this and it was one adrenalin filled activity after another. Our actividad also included underground rafting in the coldest fresh water ever (not my favorite part), amphibious vehicles and lunch. This was quite a few years ago, and there may be more options now, but we went to Xplor near the Riviera Maya. We would definitely do this again, it's worth every penny. This was Chase's favorite on the list of Actividad's I compiled.
6. Side-by-Side Tour - Along the lines of a four wheel tour, but I'd say even a little more adventurous! Two to their top notch machines so you get to spend time with each kid. Let's just say, it was a little more relaxing with Wren driving and a little more "exciting" with Chase. More comfy than an ATV, just as dirty and dusty and a great way to see the scenery. I had no idea Tennessee was so beautiful and had so much water! We crossed over 25 creeks, which of course is the highlight. If you find yourself near Nashville, and want something other than the bar scene (although we did stop at a winery), give Fisher's Off-Road a try. Be sure to take a change of clothes and some snacks. Super Fun and Wren's favorite of the listed actividad's. Pricey, but worth it!
You can't go wrong with any of these activities, Skiing, Disneyland, Zip-lining, Off-road ATV tours and Rafting. Perfect family days for those with adventurous teens and early twenties kids'. They'll be excited to hang out with you! Hang on tight, you might need to close your eyes a few times, and get ready for great memories.