Summer 2021 Ultimate Family Vacations

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Europe Bound

3 Countries, 2 Teens and 1 Trip They Will Never Forget

Blast Off to Space With a Visit to NASA

Cruise Ships A Destination of Their Own

Turks & Caicos By Land & By Sea 2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations


You make the memories. We’ll take care of the rest. Before you know it; school is out, the weather is warming and you are left thinking, how in the world is it summer already? How do you create moments your family will remember? Easy: By making them unforgettable. Our travel advisors know which beach resort has the best food, which cruise ship has the best kids’ program, and which tour will make your teenagers voluntarily put their phones down. We do all the heavy lifting, so all you have to do is sit back, enjoy, and reconnect.

To book your next family vacation, please call our trusted travel advisors.


Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021

2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations


As we are reaching the tail end of Covid-19, the silver linings of such a difficult and unprecedented time are coming to light—none more important than how much our relationships and connections with family and friends really mean to us. Parents and kids sat down at the dinner table more frequently. Siblings looked to one another to be their playmates and friends, and family movie nights accompanied by big bowls of popcorn were events we looked forward to. The pandemic also gave us a chance to reminisce about past adventures—the first time everyone dipped their toes into the Pacific Ocean, that camping trip where s’mores by the fire became a nightly ritual, and the group selfies you’ve taken in front of some of the world’s most iconic attractions, from the Eiffel Tower to the Acropolis and Big Ben. It’s those memories that kept us going in the darkest of times. They were reassuring and comforting, like a warm blanket wrapped around you on a cold night. Those recollections also represented hope—hope that we would travel again and add to our mental repertoire new experiences, moments that made you giggle and inspired you.

Editor' s Letter Michele Sponagle

The time has come to make travel plans for your next family vacation. The world is slowly opening up with fresh opportunities to explore. Where will you go? What will you do? Those are two very important questions and not easily answered quickly. That’s where this magazine comes in… Remember when you used to get a thick Sears catalog just before Christmas and how you’d flip every page and say, “I want that, and that, and that”? Our newest issue of Ultimate Family Vacations magazine has been created in the same spirit. Think of it as a wish book full of great ideas, travel tips, dynamic destinations, and unforgettable experiences for everyone, whether you choose to travel domestically in your intimate family bubble or you’re ready to venture abroad. Plan now, book and travel in the near future with confidence. In the pages that follow, you’ll discover a wide range of family vacations showcased. You’ll find features about hiking in Switzerland, exploring Belgium, France and Germany, surf and turf fun in Turks & Caicos, adventures in space close by in Florida, cowboy culture in Texas, waterparks in Wisconsin, Iceland’s natural wonders, history and culture in Croatia, and the onboard joys of cruise ships. The best part is that the wishes you’ll make when reading our writers’ stories can all come true. It starts by contacting your trusted travel advisor. It’s a perfect first step that can lead to some pretty fabulous places. Let’s create some new memories together—ones we’ll cherish with a new appreciation.


Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021





8 Destination: Cruise Ship

The all-inclusive floating resort

13 Best of the West

From cattle drives to video game museums in Fort Worth


3, 2, 1… Lift Off! Exploring NASA

20 Splish Splash Family Fun

Wisconsin Dells, the waterpark capital of the world

22 Surf and Turf

The Turks & Caicos by land and by sea

25 Playing It Cool

Iceland, the land of fire and ice

28 Bound for Europe

Three countries, two teens and one trip of a lifetime

32 Go Ahead and Jump

Explore Croatia’s Adriatic coastline


35 Peak Performance

Hiking the Swiss Alps

Publisher Ensemble Travel® Group Creative Director and Managing Editor Kimberly Buerkle Editor Michele Sponagle


Editorial Coordinator Isabelle Labrosse



Look for this interactive video icon

Advertising Kimberly Buerkle LEUKERBAD,




Art Direction Cherry Ann Valles, Cinzia Cammisa Foxx Advertising & Design Inc. Production Management Joe Viecili, Danielle Ranieri Foxx Advertising & Design Inc.

throughout the magazine to inspire your next family vacations

Ensemble Travel® Group. All rights reserved. 2021 Ensemble Travel® Group is a registered trademark of Ensemble Travel® Group. No part of this publication maybe reprinted or otherwise duplicated without written permission of the publisher. Photos by Getty Images unless stated otherwise. Ensemble Travel® 256 West 38th Street, New York, NY 10018

2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations


CONTRIBUTORS CYNTHIA J. DRAKE Cynthia is a freelance travel writer who lives in Austin, Texas, and loves traveling with her three cowboys (a.k.a. husband and two sons) every chance she gets.

ROSALIND STEFANAC Rosalind is a journalist and travel writer whose work can be found in numerous publications, including Travel Life. Itching to get back on the road as soon as possible, she is filling her family’s wanderlust these days with lots of local excursions.




Heather is the author of the nonfiction What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? A long-time journalist, editor and translator, her work has appeared in Quill & Quire, Style at Home and more. Originally from Montreal, she now lives in Toronto, Canada.

Fiona’s work has appeared in National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure, The Guardian, The Independent, The Globe and Mail and many more. She has traveled to more than 30 countries across six continents and loves writing about her adventures.



Miriam is an award-winning journalist who writes about travel, social justice issues and veganism. Her articles have appeared in Washington Post, Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Toronto Star and many more.

Diane is passionate about cruising since it’s such a fun and easy way to see the world. She’s been on 71 cruises to more than 45 countries and had hundreds of cruise articles published in media outlets in Canada and the U.S.



Claudia enjoys writing about adventure, family, and sustainable travel for online and print outlets worldwide, including enRoute, Lonely Planet, Saturday Evening Post, Fodor’s, and Explore.

Shel is a journalist by trade and an adventurer at heart. She is always collecting stories, whether on assignment or not. She loves to explore the unexpected places filled with surprising discoveries.

Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021

TA K E B O N D I N G UP A NOTCH Ready for your next great family vacation? Start packing for what may just be your greatest one yet — a cruise to the private destination Perfect Day at CocoCay. It’s an action-packed island in The Bahamas that seamlessly blends thrilling activities with plenty of ways to chill in Caribbean comfort. And you can only experience it with Royal Caribbean.

Daredevil’s Peak


poolside cabanas at Oasis Lagoon (the

The day begins with an easy walk off the ship right to the action, no tender boat required. After a short walk down the pier, you’ll come to the only difficult choice to make all day — what to do first! For those looking for an adrenaline rush, head straight to Thrill Waterpark. You can’t miss the tallest waterslide in North America, Daredevil’s Peak, standing at 135 feet tall, this addicting adventure will test your bravery. And that’s just one of several slides you’ll find at Daredevil’s Tower. At the neighboring Splash Summit, take on six more slides. And be sure to grab a buddy — because these multi-person tube, raft, and racer slides will unleash some family-friendly competition.

BIG FUN FOR LITTLE ONES The kids can enjoy another water park just for them at Splashaway Bay, located just outside Thrill Waterpark. They’ll have buckets of fun with five waterslides and two massive drench buckets, plus fountains, pools and more. For even more splashes and giggles, take them for a visit to Captain Jill’s Galleon, where they’ll have a blast firing water cannons and unleashing their inner pirate.

largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean) or at Thrill Waterpark. But for the ultimate in luxury, you can’t beat the first Floating Cabanas in The Bahamas at Coco Beach Club — an exclusive access retreat with its own restaurant, infinity pool and more. Per fec t Day at CocoCay, Bahamas

AN EPIC FINALE CRAVEWORTHY CLASSICS When it’s time to refuel, several restaurants on the island offer tasty fare to get your fix. Among the most popular is Snack Shack, serving up burgers, hot dogs, salads, funnel cakes and more. Or head to Captain Jack’s for some signature wings and settle into one of the rope-swing seats.

When the day is done, don’t miss the chance to capture the most dramatic sunset pic ever on a flight 450 feet above the island. The Up, Up and Away helium balloon ride offers unparalleled views of Perfect Day at CocoCay and the endless blue waters surrounding the island. And it’s an experience you’ll never forget.



Of course, there’s plenty of adventure to be

Sometimes there’s no better thing than your

had before and after your visit to the island

own slice of private paradise. Luckily,

onboard the world’s most incredible ships — like

Perfect Day at CocoCay delivers a variety of

the ocean’s largest ship, Symphony of the Seas,

cabanas that all dish out tropical luxury. Enjoy

the newest in the Royal Caribbean fleet,

attendant service and beautiful views no

Odyssey of the Seas, or the Amplified

matter which you choose — the beachfront

Independence of the Seas. Whichever you

cabanas of South Beach or Chill Island, the

choose, get ready for the vacation of a lifetime.


NOTICE: Prior to booking, please consult all applicable U.S. Centers for Disease Control travel advisories, warnings, or recommendations relating to cruise travel, at If a certain threshold level of COVID-19 is detected onboard the ship during your voyage, the voyage will end immediately, the ship will return to the port of embarkation, and your subsequent travel, including your return home, may be restricted or delayed. Health and safety protocols, guest conduct rules, and regional travel restrictions vary by ship and destination, and are subject to change without notice. Due to evolving health protocols, imagery and messaging may not accurately reflect onboard and destination experiences, offerings, features, or itineraries. These may not be available during your voyage, may vary by ship and destination, and may be subject to change without notice. Images and messaging for PerfectVacations Day at CocoCay may include 7 2021 | Ultimate Family artistic renderings. All features are subject to change without notice. Perfect Day and CocoCay are registered trademarks of Royal Caribbean. ©2021 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships’ registry: The Bahamas. 21075962 • 04/28/2021


CRUISE SHIP Cruise ships are such fun, all-inclusive floating resorts that they’ve become destinations themselves for families By Diane Tierney


How would you like to go on vacation with your kids and never hear, “I’m hungry,” or “I’m bored,” or the dreaded, “Are we there yet?” It’s almost guaranteed if you choose a cruise for your next family vacation. Ships are fun for kids of all ages — from toddlers to teens and everything in between — that the ship itself is the destination. There’s so much to do (and even more to eat) that a ship is like an all-inclusive floating resort with a theme park, so where it sails is a secondary consideration. Incredible features amuse all ages such as waterparks, slides, go-karts, laser tag, rock climbing, ropes courses, zip-lining, bumper cars, skating rinks, aerial bicycles, sports courts, trampolines, arcades, 3D and 5D movie theaters, surfing and skydiving simulators and more. Aside from fancy features, ships also have spacious childcare and teen centers stocked


Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021

with toys, games and computers. They are staffed with caring counselors who lead age-appropriate activities from treasure hunts to talent shows. And babysitting is available. For meals and snacks, there are a dozen places to dine, with pizza and ice cream available almost anytime. Spectacular entertainment ranges from laser shows and outdoor movies under the stars (popcorn included), to musicals and magicians. Family cabins have connecting doors and suites have multiple bedrooms that can sleep up to six passengers. Many ships also have dedicated family areas where a dozen or more cabins have their own private family lounges, game rooms and snack areas. You can feel confident that your cruise neighbors are also families with similar interests and your kids can make friends easily.

Here’s a look at some of the family perks on top destination ships. Carnival Cruises is a leader in kid-friendly cruising and has welcomed an estimated 900,000 children annually. Its waterparks are huge and cleverly designed with fast slides for teens and splash pads for younger kids.


The company upped its game by announcing that it is building the first rollercoaster at sea on its Mardi Gras ship launching in 2022. The coaster, Bolt, will feature an 800-foot-long track with twists, turns and drops, and is built 187 feet above sea level. Riders sit on electric vehicles that resemble motorcycles and can reach speeds of up to 40 mph. There’s so much going on that Carnival Cruises helps guests keep track of programs with the industry-leading HUB app. With the app, you can be sure not to miss comedy performances, Build-a-Bear workshops, Hasbro game shows for families, and more.


Royal Caribbean International caters to all ages, however, its ships are well-suited to tweens and teens because they have more challenging amenities like skydiving simulators, trampolines, skating rinks, zip-lining and more. Its newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, is scheduled to make its North American debut in November 2021, sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is built for fun with SeaPlex, the largest indoor/outdoor activity center at sea, the FlowRider surf simulator, SkyPad, a virtual bungee/ trampoline experience, and an all-glass observation capsule for 360-degree views, plus two open-air pools and four whirlpools. Several of Royal Caribbean International’s ships carry more than 5,000 passengers, so there’s simply a lot more of everything. Ask about Royal Caribbean International’s family suites on Symphony of the Seas with two-story lofts and a slide from the bedrooms down to the living room.



an Alaska adventure for all ages!

discover alaska with Princess


There’s no better way for a family to discover Alaska than with Princess®. On this iconic cruisetour vacation, you’ll experience glaciers and have oy your time sailing along Alaska even more the chance to witness the majestic scenery and wildlife. You’ll also be h the perks of Princess Plus and explore the immersed on in the Great Land with activities for all ages through Princess’ e-open wilderness an inland adventure. North To Alaska programs. Dine on fresh Alaska seafood, cuddle sled-dog bark on a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers in the ship’s Piazza, meet National Park Rangers, and hear tales ise plus apuppies four-night land tour including exclusive ® from lumberjacks, storytellers, even from Discovery Channel’s ect-to-the-Wilderness rail service, two nights fishermen at ® Deadliest Catch. And now you can experience it all with your family on a Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, a Natural ® tory TourMedallionClass into Denali National Park, one night vacation. he Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge® d one night in Anchorage. Sale ends 3/31! Receive Princess Plus including drinks, Wi-Fi and crew incentive PLUS an exclusive offer of $60 onboard credit per stateroom and up + drinks to $400 in Cruisetour + wi-fi CA$H for your family + gratuities included2 to spend on land! Exclusively through us

11 nights 5 ports 1

2 glacier viewing experiences

Grand Princess® May 25, 2022

Denali Explorer DA4 Vancouver, B.C. to Anchorage

other departures1: Majestic Princess ® May–Sep 2022




Receive up to

fares from *

Cruisetour CA$H per stateroom2

+up to $60 to spend on board 2,899 per stateroom



*Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses of up to $276 are additional.

10 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021

Princess is currently assessing enhanced health and safety protocols in light of COVID-19 anddon’t how they may impact future offerings. offerings pre-paid may vary from what is forget to its ask about anActual optional displayed in our marketing materials and communications. Contact us for updates on 1 meal plan for and land tours that includes: $2,899 fare is based on category current Travel Advisories health & safety protocols. ® 6/1/22 sailing, BF on for a CruiseTour DA4 departure of 5/25/22 and Grand Princess 2 3 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 3 dinners on a space-available basis at time of booking. Fares for other dates may vary. 2Certain restrictions apply, please refer to your travel advisor for full terms, conditions and definitions that apply to Cruisetour CA$H, Onboard Spending Money, Optional Meal Plan, Military Benefits and Princess Plus. Inclusions are subject to change. Server gratuity (15%) and taxes are included in the package price. Alcoholic beverages are not included in meal packages. ©2021, Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. Ships of Bermudan and British registry.

ur Trusted Travel Advisor to Learn More

ON A PRINCESS ® M EDALLION C LASS ® CRUISE YOUR VACATION IS EFFORTLESS AND PERSONALIZED, THANKS TO THE O CEAN M EDALLION™ QUARTER-SIZED WEARABLE. > Contactless Boarding – With MedallionClass® technology, your journey begins before you step aboard. Download the MedallionClass app and complete the OceanReady® steps before you go. You’ll enjoy effortless check-in, free of crowds and long lines. > Whatever You Need, Delivered – With OceanNow® service on demand, enjoy the convenience of delivery for free anywhere on board. From your morning latte to your balcony, extra sunscreen to your deck lounger or coat hangers to your stateroom. Wherever you are, Princess can deliver food, drinks, retail items and even stateroom amenities. > Locate Friends and Family – with the MedallionClass® experience, it’s easy to locate your friends and family without an internet plan using the ShipMates™ function within the MedallionClass app. > Events On Board – Don’t miss a moment of all the incredible events with the JourneyView® planner. At a glance, look ahead to all the upcoming events on your ship, reserve your spot and create your family’s own itinerary to fit your schedule. > Keyless Stateroom Entry – Step into the future (and your stateroom) with keyless entry. Automatic locks ensure your room is always safe and sound and your family will be welcomed with a personalized greeting every time you return. > Fun and Games – Your MedallionClass app can unlock a world of interactive family-friendly games, like Games Under the Stars and exciting scavenger hunts on board. You can even create an OceanTagalong® avatar, your virtual fishy friend to pop up and visit you throughout your cruise.

Safe at Sea

Keeping passengers healthy is of utmost importance to cruise lines, especially in the COVID era. They have stepped up their cleaning and hygiene protocols for added safety and peace of mind, plus instituting new ways to maintain social distancing. Passengers may also find traditional safety drills streamlined. For example, Princess’s MedallionClass app allows you to watch the required safety drills anytime and anywhere on embarkation day, or view the video in your stateroom. Check in with a crew member to locate your nearest muster station. Safety first!

Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, Encore


(launched in November 2019), has a 1,100-foot go-karting track that’s longer than three football fields. It has four high-speed curves that extend 13 feet over the side of the ship, so you’ll see the ocean below. Spectators can also get in on the action. From a viewing area in the middle of the track, you can use laser guns to turbo-boost your favorite racer to win the race. An enormous laser tag area covers the entire back of Encore and is designed to look like the lost city of Atlantis. While trying to complete your mission, you can hide behind ruins and run past the tentacles of giant sea creatures. A new twist is that you can also uncover hidden treasures using augmented reality. Norwegian Cruise Line also launched daring waterslides 159-feet high that hang 11 feet over the side of the ship. The initial drop is so steep and fast that you might be completely airborne for a few seconds inside the clear tube. There are also double loops where you can view the ocean. Norwegian Cruise Line is also known for some of the most extensive ropes courses at sea, including a walk-the-plank feature extending over the side of the ship.

Princess Cruises

offers a variety of family-friendly cruise activities so you and your loved ones have plenty of ways to spend quality time together. Book a Princess MedallionClass Vacation™ and see how effortless your family vacation can be! Enjoy TrulyTouchless™ embarkation, have beverage, food or almost anything be delivered wherever you are onboard. Stay connected, text chat and stream shows with MedallionNet® wi-fi, and so much more. On board the Caribbean Princess, the Reef Family Splash Zone is the perfect place for younger ones to have fun and enjoy the water. An interactive splash pad with giant whale feature will entertain kids with showers, sprays and a water jet from the whale’s spout! There is also a wide range of activities for the whole family. There’s top-deck stargazing, an indoor planetarium, expert insights through Encounters with Discovery at SEA, and Hollywood blockbusters you can watch on a giant poolside big screen with Movies Under the Stars®. And when you’re ready for some grown-up time away from your travel group, Princess offers adults-only areas so you can enjoy some quiet time while your kids are having a blast at its youth and teen Camp Discovery centers.


2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations



EXCLUSIVE OFFER — Early Saver Rates* — Up to $50 Onboard Credit* Book by June 18, 2021

Plan for a vacation your family will be talking about for years! On a Carnival cruise, you can have fun spending time together, as well as doing your own things. Enjoy amazing food, spectacular entertainment, comfy accommodations, and something different to entertain you every day. Plus, with a whole range of activities for everyone, you can relax, have fun, enjoy every minute – and make a ton of wonderful new memories to take home.

Onboard Credit offer is non-transferable and non-refundable. Onboard Credit is provided as a non-refundable credit to your Sail & Sign account of $12.50 per person up to $25 per stateroom on 2-5 day sailings. Onboard Credit is provided as a non-refundable credit to your Sail & Sign account of $25 per person up to $50 per stateroom on 6+ day sailings. Onboard Credit may not be applied to cruise fare or Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses. The Early Saver fare is subject to availability and is capacity controlled. Changes made to the reservation may result in the assessment of cancellation penalties or service fees. Full names are required for each guest. Carnival reserves the right to withdraw and/or change offer at any time without prior notice. Price Protection applies to the cruise fare only and does not include Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses. Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses range from $63.14 to $427.64, and are assessed on a per guest basis for all guests according to the itinerary. Early Saver fare is backed by a unique price protection policy (only available to bookings made in USD currency) that allows you to adjust your cruise fare to the best available fare for a like category stateroom (no downgrades allowed) advertised by Carnival and available to the general public. Price protection will be subject to the prevailing Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses and/or fuel supplement if applicable. Carnival will honor your request for price protection if the reduction on the total amount paid for your booking results only from a lower cruise fare and not from the booked ancillary services, such as air, transfers, pre-paid gratuities, or Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses. The guest is responsible for increases to ancillary services such as air, resulting from changes to ship and/or sail date, or adjustments to cruise fare. Early Saver price protection does not apply to group rates, membership programs, charters, select promotional fares, travel agent rebates, or other travel agent promotions not offered by Carnival to the general public. When re-pricing to a new promotion, guest assumes all terms and conditions of the new promotion and may forfeit any or all features associated with the original fare, such as cabin assignment, onboard credit, an upgrade, special deposit and payment terms, etc. A $50 change fee per guest will be assessed for ship and/or sail date changes made prior to final payment due date. Remaining funds are nonrefundable/nontransferable and will be held as a future cruise credit (FCC). FCC issued in USD & must be used to book a new cruise within 12 months of cancel date. Guest may select the stateroom, but a minimum purchase of category 1A is required. Offer is applicable on new bookings made between May 18, 2021- June 18, 2021. Offer is applicable on sailings between

12 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021

January 2022 through September 2023 where Early Saver is available. Request rate code OIJ. Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas, Panama & Malta. ©2021 Carnival Corporation. Carnival and the Carnival logos are trademarks of Carnival Corporation. All rights reserved. Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas, Panama and Malta



Best of the

By Cynthia J. Drake

Giddyup for some fresh fun in Fort Worth, from cattle drives and stetsons to a museum devoted to video games Fort Worth, Texas, has been known for years as “Cowtown,” dating back to its origins as a stop for cattle wranglers along the Chisholm Trail. Today, a whole new boomtown is developing in the fifth largest city in Texas, with a touch of cowboy swagger along with a heaping helping of family-friendly fun for a new generation of visitors.

And get some fresh air and exercise hiking or biking the more than 100 miles of Trinity Trails running alongside the Trinity River, near attractions such as the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and the Fort Worth Zoo, regularly named as one of the top five zoos in the U.S.

TOP MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS Start your visit at Fort Worth Stockyards, an area that has just undergone a multi-million-dollar redevelopment, bringing in fresh, new dining spots and boutiques (in case you need a new pair of cowboy boots or a hat). Be sure to catch the twice daily longhorn cattle drive, which takes place down East Exchange Avenue at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. In the mood for more cowtown inspiration? Grab some tickets for an evening rodeo at Cowtown Coliseum (also in the Stockyards district) or explore John Wayne: An American Experience, which explores the life and legacy of a true Western movie legend. The Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum is also nearby, showcasing the bold spirit of the women of the American West. For indoor fun and education, the city also boasts some of the best art museums in the state, including the Kimbell Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, all in the Cultural District.


2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations


WHERE TO STAY Continuing with your cowboy themed vacation, check in to the new Hotel Drover in the Mule Alley area of the Stockyards, a luxe-Western themed Autograph Collection hotel full of vintage cowboy memorabilia. Your kids will want to spend the entire day in the hotel’s backyard, a tree-canopy oasis overlooking the Trinity River with a stunning pool and oversized hot tub (Mom and Dad can order up a cocktail to enjoy on the plush pool lounges or daybed swings).



WHERE TO EAT There are several new options in the Stockyards district, including Provender Hall for steaks and burgers and Biscuit Bar for biscuit-based sandwiches and over-the-top tater tots. Joe T. Garcia’s is a legendary Tex-Mex restaurant in the city with a stunning outdoor dining space and Flying Fish is another super casual seafood hotspot (be sure to check out the collection of mounted plastic fish on the walls). For dessert, grab a scoop at Melt, a local ice cream shop with lip-smacking flavors like lavender honeycomb and blueberry cheesecake.



DAY TRIP If kids (or parents) are into video games, add on a day trip to the suburb of Frisco, a 45-minute drive from Fort Worth where you’ll find the National Videogame Museum. Play on vintage consoles, explore old-school memorabilia, and snag the high score inside the arcade on-site. Order a gamer-themed entrée or dessert at Nerdvana, where you can order up a tasty meal while playing your favorite retro video game. You’ll also find the country’s first KidZania, a fully immersive kid-centered town where children can try out different careers and even earn special currency to spend. No matter what your family’s style is, Fort Worth has a full range of kid-friendly attractions, plus a great sense of community and a unique small-town feel that makes it ideal for an exciting escape from daily life. Your travel advisor has even more suggestions to help you plan your summer vacation. Make sure to reach out.

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FEEL FREE TO IMMERSE YOURSELF IN HISTORY. Come aboard Europe’s Leading Cruise Line, unpack once and wake up to a new European city nearly every day. Explore the sights, sounds and flavors of different cultures — all on your own terms. Envision the ancient battles that once took place as you enter the Colosseum in Rome. Sit down, or dance around at a restaurant in Santorini and experience traditional Greek cuisine, wine and music. Step back in time visiting the ruins of Pompeii from Naples, or browse shops in Old Town in Palma de Mallorca. With award-winning ships to choose from including some of our newest ships, this will be a history lesson you won’t want to skip.


©2021 NCL Corporation Ltd. Ships’ Registry: BAHAMAS and USA


38715 05/21



2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations


3, 2, 1… LIFT OFF! Exploring


is an out-of-this-world experience for kids and grownups alike By Miriam Porter


While visiting Orlando, my son, Noah, and I took a road trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. We love all things space themed and this was the perfect adventure to explore the past, present and future of America’s space program. From close-up looks at the Space Shuttle Atlantis to discovering what a visit to Mars might hold, this is an attraction suitable for a wide range of kids who have a curiosity about what lies beyond our Earth.

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TAP INTO YOUR INNER ASTRONAUT Though not included with the regular admission tickets, the Astronaut Training Experience is worth the extra dollars for anyone ages 10 and up who really wants to go behind the scenes and see how astronauts prepare for a mission to Mars. This 4.5-hour program allows you to practice docking skills, navigate the surface of the Red Planet and feel what it’s like to do a spacewalk in a microgravity environment. You never know… You may inspire a youngster to pursue their dream of becoming an astronaut in the future. WATCH A ROCKET LAUNCH Plan your trip accordingly to be part of a live rocket launch viewing at the Space Center or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Watch in amazement as the countdown to lift off starts with the rocket engines igniting and the world around you rumbling as it soars toward space. Check the Kennedy Space Center website for upcoming launch dates.

GET THE NEWS FIRSTHAND There are always new missions being planned. At the Mission Status Briefing, you can hear about them right from the source in a multimedia presentation. You’ll get a glimpse at the next generation of American spacecraft, find out more about what preparations are being made for the future of deep-space exploration and about current experiments being done on the International Space Station. Check out the daily schedule for show times. EXPLORE SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS A close-up view of the iconic Space Shuttle Atlantis — which transported astronauts to space and back for 30 years — will leave you wide-eyed. There are also more than 60 interactive exhibits about the history and technology used in the space shuttle program. You’ll love the astronaut training simulators, shuttle launch experience and Hubble Space Telescope replica. You can also pay your respects at the Forever Remembered Memorial honoring astronauts who lost their lives during space missions. TOUR A GARDEN UNLIKE ANY OTHER Where do rockets go when they’ve outlived their usefulness? You’ll find many examples from past decades here in the Rocket Garden, one of the most photographed attractions at the Kennedy Space Center. Walk just feet from legendary rockets like Juno I (first launched in 1958), Juno II, Saturn 1B, Mercury-Atlas and Gemini-Titan II. Delta II is the newest addition. With more than 150 successful launches, the rocket is happily enjoying retirement in a garden setting. This spot is perfect for Instagram selfies.



2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations


Unlimited-Luxury.® YOUR DREAMS. YOUR WAY.


Dreams Resorts & Spas are luxurious beachfront havens located in the most popular tropical destinations. Each provides Unlimited-Luxury® — where everything is included, even gratuities. Couples will find romance and relaxation while couples with children can enjoy their own private time thanks to our supervised clubs for kids and teens. It’s everything a family vacation is meant be.


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AMResorts 2021


dreams come true today.

Now’s the perfect time to plan a magical Walt Disney World escape. To see favorite Characters. Whoosh down a wild coaster. Taste your favorite Disney treats. Or take in the smell of freshly popped popcorn on Main Street, U.S.A.® With new and classic magic happening throughout all four Theme Parks, there’s no better time to join family and friends to indulge every craving and celebrate your great big beautiful tomorrow together. Let your tomorrow begin today at Walt Disney World Resort... The Most Magical Place on Earth. ©Disney 1870441

Contact your Travel Advisor Today!

2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations



Take the plunge in Wisconsin Dells, the waterpark capital of the world By Shel Zolkewich You may get exhausted, exhilarated, sunburned, mesmerized and awestruck, but one thing you’ll never get in Wisconsin Dells is bored. Why do millions of travelers head to this Midwest gem? In a word, waterparks. Located about a three-hour drive from Minneapolis, the Dells has laid claim to the title, ‘Waterpark Capital of the World’ for 15 years. While water-based fun is the star attraction here, you’ll also find amusement parks, haunted houses, arcades, shopping, exotic animals, golfing, spas and magic shows to fill in the time between visits to the area’s monstrous waterparks.

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The Kalahari Waterpark is Wisconsin Dell’s largest indoor facility. It features the FlowRider, which allows the brave-hearted to test their surfing skills on a five-foot wave simulator. Orientation and pointers are provided, so you experience the thrill of just getting up on the board. Even if you don’t participate, watching the wipeouts is nearly as much fun. If catching waves is not quite exhilarating enough, try the knee-wobbling Point of No Return at Noah’s Ark Waterpark. Lie down, cross your arms, take a deep breath and surrender to the 10-story waterslide drop that lasts a mere five seconds.


When it’s time to slow things down just a touch, most parks feature a lazy river where a float on a bobbing tube allows you to catch your breath. The Rio Rapids Action River at Chula Waterpark offers a little bit of leisurely fun, thanks to waterfalls and gentle currents. Or stay dry with a wild ride on Hades, a mammoth wooden roller coaster at the Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park. It lives up to its name. While, at one point, it might appear like you’re going to crash into a concrete parking lot, the coaster plunges into total darkness beneath the surface instead after coming off a 140-foot drop at 70 miles an hour. Spend an afternoon with the exotic residents of The Dells at Timbavati Wildlife Park. The safari train ride winds through a pasture filled with ostrich, antelope, and even a rhinoceros. Visit with giraffes and camels, snap selfies with a baby kangaroo or a pride of lions. When parents have had enough of the waterparks, they can escape to the Sundara Spa for a signature body polish and massage. It uses ingredients indigenous to the Wisconsin Dells area, like fine sandstone used to buff your skin smooth. Meanwhile, the Shirodhara massage concludes with soothing oils trickled on the forehead to transport you into a blissful state. Continue your pampering with a nap on a poolside lounger. FAMILY FUN AT KALAHARI WATERPARK © WISCONSIN DELLS VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU

To start planning your next wave of family fun, contact your travel advisor today.




Surf and Turf Families have plenty of ways to discover Turks and Caicos by land and by sea By Fiona Tapp

People come to the Turks and Caicos to swim in impossibly clear waters and walk along white-sand shores. But there’s so much more to do on and off the beaches than just soak up the sun. Not just for honeymooners, the islands are an ideal family-friendly vacation spot. Away from those gorgeous beaches, check out these fun-filled activities and attractions to keep the whole family entertained.


RIDE WITH PROVO PONIES Provo Ponies, located in Providenciales, or Provo as locals call it, started out as a rescue operation for abused and malnourished horses. It now offers visitors the chance to ride them through the surf and on trails during a three-hour excursion. This is an incredibly popular tour so you will need to book in advance. Children aged seven and up are welcome.

VISIT IGUANA ISLAND Also known as Little Water Cay, Iguana Island is a great place to get an up-close look at rock iguanas. It’s easy to arrange a boat tour from nearby Grace Bay Beach to Little Water Cay where you can spend a few hours or enjoy a picnic. There isn’t anything else on the island except iguanas, which you’ll spot as you wander along the boardwalks, so bring any beach toys or snacks you may need. Don’t forget these creatures are endangered and it’s forbidden to feed them. 22 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021


ATTEND THE THURSDAY FISH FRY Every Thursday night at Bight Park, musicians, vendors and food merchants gather for a big outdoor party. While currently on pause because of COVID-19 restrictions, this is usually a great family-friendly event where you can pick up souvenirs, enjoy some great food and mingle with locals. TURKS AND CAICOS FISH FRY

GO SNORKELLING The islands offer so many opportunities for scuba divers to see a huge array of marine life, but by taking a snorkeling trip, even kids can experience the same sort of underwater wonder. Most boat tour companies in the Turks and Caicos allow children to come along at a reduced price. Some even have boats equipped with slides and include a snack and a drink. At the Bight Reef (Coral Gardens), expect to see colorful reef fish, stingrays and turtles. Those with young children may prefer to just simply swim out into the ocean with a mask and flippers and see what they can all find. SNORKELLING


KAYAKING AND WILDLIFE SPOTTING The Turks and Caicos have more than 40 islands and cays to discover, but some are best seen by kayak. Local tour operators take guests on tours near Princess Alexandra National Park. The only sound you’ll hear will be the gentle slap of water against the blade of your paddle as you navigate quietly through the mangroves. Even small children are lulled into silence as they search for turtles and fish while learning all about this unique environment.

2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations



MAKE YOUR NEXT FAMILY VACATION A CRUISE BEST IN ALASKA Cruise Critic Destination Awards 2019 AFAR Travelers’ Awards 2020 BEST IN MEXICAN RIVIERA Cruise Critic Destination Awards 2019 BEST PRIVATE ISLAND Porthole Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards 2020 BEST SHORE EXCURSIONS Porthole Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards 2020

From the stunning glaciers of Alaska to the sunny beaches of the Caribbean and Mexico, the timeless traditions of Europe and the rugged coastlines of Canada & New England, Holland America Line offers a world of unforgettable experiences for the entire family. Enjoy endless ways to discover, explore and connect. With a variety of onboard activities, world-class dining and the best live music at sea, everyone – kids, parents and grandparents – can pursue their passions their way. Spacious staterooms and suites come in an array of sizes and configurations, including connecting rooms. With reduced fares for kids or extra guests and our Have It All premium package of amenities, make your next family vacation a Holland America Line cruise.


We are staying atop health and safety protocols in our continuing effort to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19, which may impact our voyages and offerings, including amenities and itineraries. AllFamily U.S. voyages are subject Ultimate Vacations | 2021to CDC Cruise Travel Advice which is available at Ships’ Registry: The Netherlands. 24


Playing It

Any time of year is the right time to visit Iceland with kids By Fiona Tapp Known as a playground for adventure sports and heart-pumping activities, Iceland, dubbed the “Land of Fire and Ice,” surprisingly, makes for an excellent family-friendly vacation.

Given its name, you would expect Iceland to experience frigid weather, but the temperature in winter averages 32 °F in the south — and for some people, it will feel balmy compared to back home. In summer, temperatures usually get up into the mid-seventies. But sunny or cold, it’s a destination worth visiting regardless of the time of the year.

2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations





Most visitors fly into the capital city and join a tour or discover the island independently. Plan to spend at least some of your trip there since it has evolved into a trendy and kid-friendly break destination among Europeans. Start as we did, by exploring on foot. Reykjavík is compact and you can easily walk between most attractions, even with a small child. Head up to the top of the tower at the striking Hallgrímskirkja church for views across the city and of the mountains in the distance. My son thought it looked like a rocket ship! Reykjavík has plenty of child-friendly activities, including the Maritime Museum and the Whales of Iceland exhibit. In the Grand harbour district, you’ll find restaurants, shops in fisherman huts and one of the city’s newest and best attractions, FlyOver Iceland. It is an immersive ride with a 65-foot curved screen and cutting-edge technology that allows visitors to feel like they are flying over Iceland’s landscapes. Kids must be three-feet tall to ride and will particularly enjoy the preshow which features an ancient troll guide. Once you leave the city, most people stick to the south coast for tours. Although you can visit the major sites in all seasons, it’s more practical with smaller children to go in the summer months. Plan to see the dramatic Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls and marvel at the black sand beach at Reynisfjara.


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There is plenty for kids to enjoy, including hiking along the shore, collecting volcanic stones, and stomping through the jet-black sand. Take the kids for a dip in one of the country’s hot springs, including the world-famous Blue Lagoon. If you have children aged eight and up, come in winter and consider booking a tour to walk on the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and going inside the ice caves. It’s an otherworldly experience to be underneath the glacier surrounded by the varying shades of ice from volcanic ash dark to every blue your eye can detect. Children will love nearby Diamond Beach where chunks of icebergs have been deposited, appearing as glittery gems on the black sands. Also, on your road trip, stop at the LAVA Centre in Hvolsvöllur, where you can learn more about the geological features of the country and warm up with a hot chocolate and a snack. The landscapes change so drastically with the seasons that it can feel like visiting two completely different countries in winter and summer. Whatever time of year you come in, you’ll want to visit again to see what you’ve missed in another time of year.


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Bound for

EUROPE Four agendas, three countries, two teens and one trip of a lifetime

28 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021 MONUMENT OF THE BERLIN WALL

By Heather Camlot


My husband and I had our own reasons for traveling to Germany. I was doing research for a new novel and he wanted to show our teenagers where his parents were born and raised. Both agendas left the kids rolling their eyes, so we sweetened the deal—pick what you want to do and we’ll do it. Planning a trip with teens isn’t exactly easy, but giving our teenage son and daughter the opportunity to add to the itinerary before and during our time abroad gave them destinations to look forward to and made our necessary stops more bearable and, dare I say, more fun.

GAME PLAN IN GERMANY We began our trip in Berlin, hitting all the highlights you’d expect, from the Reichstag parliament building (book ahead), Brandenburg Gate and scenic boulevard Unter den Linden to the Berlin Wall Memorial, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and Museum Island. Berlin was where the parental agendas met, me needing to visit the Olympiastadion, home of the 1936 Olympics, among others, and my husband wanting to take us to his mother’s one-time home and neighborhood. The teens wanted to visit the Berlin Zoo, founded in 1844 and housing 1,200 species – more than any zoo in the world. I have to thank them. At the zoo I learned about the aquarium’s bombing during the Second World War and included the story of staff eating the dead crocodiles in their soup in my novel. Other teen highlights included the interactive DDR Museum, which explains the life in East Germany their grandfather lived, the Rausch store, billed as the world’s largest chocolate house, the colorful ChocoWorld Ritter Sport flagship store and the Mauerpark Sunday flea market packed with second-hand clothes, vintage goods and street food. My daughter also scooped up some spaghettieis, Germany’s famous ice cream made to look like a plate of spaghetti. 2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations


Next, we were off to Leipzig, where my father-in-law was raised. The Monument to the Battle of the Nations is a must. The grandiose stone temple, the largest war memorial in Europe, commemorates Napoleon’s defeat in 1813. The interior is ringed with giant stone statues of warriors and death masks, massive sculptures symbolizing German virtues and hundreds of life-size cavalry statues on the inside face of the dome. Some 500 narrow steps took us to the observation platform for a panoramic view of the city. The Renaissance-style Old Town Hall, now the Museum of City History, at the grand Market Square was also a plus for the teens, especially when they learned that their grandfather accidentally got locked inside as a teenager and had to climb out through an upper-story window and scale the building to get home. My son’s pre-trip pick was to see his favorite soccer team, Borussia Dortmund. Even though the games at the largest soccer stadium in Germany are consistently sold out, we were able to book a package that included a hotel stay, tickets to the home opener, food vouchers (pretzels as big as your face!), BVB scarves, gift cards for shopping on-site, a stadium tour and, little did we know until we arrived, a meet and greet with former goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller – my son’s soccer idol. Dortmund is also home to the German Football Museum. Its motto, “One Ball – 1,000 Stories,” is spot on. It’s a must for soccer lovers.


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ALL’S FAIR IN FRANCE With my son fulfilling his soccer dream, it was only fair that my daughter got hers, too. Paris wasn’t part of our original plan, but a dip south while driving across Belgium to meet family was doable—a one-hour high-speed train ride from the charming French border city of Lille. With only 24 hours in the City of Light, we had to be tactical. From our hotel in the Marais district, we set off the first morning to the city’s oldest square, Place des Vosges, a beautiful park enclosed by red-brick buildings and funky art galleries both teens enjoyed. With croissants in hand, we headed to my daughter’s first pick - the picture-perfect pastel rowhouses of Rue Crémieux. We then zigged and zagged along the Seine, taking in top attractions like Notre Dame, a ride on the Ferris wheel at the Jardin des Tuileries, Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe. The walk allowed us plenty of time for aimless wandering, dining (with crêpes, baguettes and cheese never far away) and shopping, from the famed Shakespeare and Company bookstore to the market stalls along the Seine to the European clothing brands my daughter had researched. We capped the day with our pre-booked late-night visit to the Eiffel Tower to view the city lit up. After a morning meandering the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, we headed to Belgium.




BEACH DAYS IN BELGIUM When traveling with teenagers, downtime is essential. Staying in the town of Koksijde on the North Sea gave us the opportunity to do just that. Half our stay we hit the beach, walked the dunes, visited with family, played mini-putt, and ate too many warm waffles from Koksijde’s weekly market. The other half we day-tripped. Destroyed during the First World War, the buildings of Ypres were faithfully rebuilt in their original medieval and Renaissance style. The charming town is now an emblem of lives lost, from In Flanders Fields Museum, to memorials, cemeteries and Last Post bugle ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing held nightly. In medieval Bruges, we took a boat trip through the canals and wandered the narrow, winding cobbled lanes around the historic Grote Markt, lined with shops, restaurants and gabled guild houses. When in Ghent, Gravensteen Castle is tops. The audio guide is perfect for teens, featuring dry, potty humor that balances the fortress’s horrific history of torture, executions and battles. Belgium is known as the comic strip capital of the world, the birthplace of Tintin, the Smurfs, Lucky Luke and Asterix to name a very few, and Brussels is home to the Comics Art Museum. After our visit, we purchased a guidebook to follow the comic strip route, a great way to take in the city by foot while searching for comic murals. A visit to the Belgian capital isn’t complete without an evening at the Grand-Place, considered the most beautiful square in Europe with its decorative guild houses and buildings, the über-popular Manneken-Pis, a two-foot statue of a boy peeing, along with a stroll through the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert with its myriad chocolate shops. Because, when in Belgium, the first rule in dining is chocolate and waffles. Although work and family history were our primary reasons for traveling to Europe, giving our teenagers a say in the day-to-day planning and ensuring there was enough wandering and downtime meant we all came home happy—and longing to do it again. 2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations



Go Ahead and


Explore the Adriatic coastline of Croatia, the perfect backdrop for a family adventure By Rosalind Stefanac



I can feel my heartbeat quicken as I watch my teenage sons climb the jagged rocks that lead to a tiny ledge 16 feet up. As they hesitate near the top, I hear words of encouragement coming from the local kids waiting their turn (many of whom seem barely school-aged themselves). With some prodding, the boys eventually step onto the stone and take their first leap into Croatia’s Adriatic Sea – and then there’s no turning back. By the end of this trip, my sons, ages 13 and 16, will have catapulted off the tops of boats and rock cliffs that look much scarier. They’ll even convince me to jump a couple of times and I’ll understand the appeal. Croatia’s translucent, turquoise waters look so inviting, it’s no wonder people jump in whenever the opportunity arises. Located between Central and Eastern Europe, Croatia is replete with charming towns, ancient monuments, picturesque parks and mountains. But what I’ve discovered after several visits here is that Croatia’s ultimate jewel is its coastline. Stretching more than 1,100 miles from the Istria peninsula in the north to Dubrovnik in the south, this coveted stretch of 32 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021

seaside has been drawing tourists from European countries and further for centuries. Add in the country’s more than 1,200 islands and islets and there’s another 2,500 miles of coastline to explore. We land in the capital city of Zagreb, claim our rental car at the airport and start the first of many scenic drives along the coastline. We skip the crowds of Dubrovnik entirely and spend our time in the central and northern regions. Our first stop is my husband’s hometown of Šibenik, an historic city dating back to 1066 located in an area called Dalmatia. Only a 15-minute drive from the beautiful Krka National Park, and a mere 54 miles from the popular city of Split, it’s an ideal base from which to explore numerous towns, parks and beaches. We don’t find many sandy beaches along the coast, but we quickly acclimatize to the paved and pebbly rock variety where, for a nominal fee, we get comfy chairs with umbrellas – and sometimes coffee and bar service, too. (Water shoes, available from local shops, are a must to avoid hot stones and the occasional prickly sea urchin.) We rent paddleboats by the hour and the boys revel in finding their balance while windsurfing or jumping off water trampolines. In addition to typical fast-food fare, beach vendors sell hot corn and crêpes filled with jam or chocolate. Freshly grilled squid served with crispy fries becomes another of our favorite seaside snacks. Now that we’ve found our sea legs, our next stop is Kornati National Park, which is comprised of 89 uninhabited islands,

islets and reefs. This sailors’ haven is also accessible by helicopter for a stunning panoramic view. But we arrange for a motorboat tour where our captain, Marko, entertains us with tales from his wild youth. At one point, he anchors the boat and invites whoever is willing to jump off the roof. The water is so clear I can see the sandy bottom. Soon, we’re all stripping into our bathing suits to take a mid-morning dip. We stop at an island restaurant to feast on freshly caught tuna and sea bass, grilled over a wood fire. During lunch, two donkeys wander over to investigate and my city slicker sons are completely enraptured. Eager to continue our island hopping, we head north to Cres, one of Croatia’s largest islands near the Istria region. We settle in a place called Mali Lošinj, dubbed the “Island of Vitality” because of its more than 200 days of yearly sunshine, superb air quality and 174 miles of footpaths and bike trails. While there, we hike or bike a different path which takes us through fragrant pine forests and bustling campgrounds every day. We stop when the mood hits to take a dip in the sea or grab an ice cream on the way. The island is also home to several hundred bottlenose dolphins and one morning we’re lucky enough to spot several in the distance. On our last day, we wake up particularly early to get on the road toward home. Only it’s a lovely sunny morning already and my oldest has a request I can’t refuse. I watch as he makes his way towards the Adriatic nearby to take one final dip. 2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations




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Peak Performance The highs and lows of an overnight Alpine hike with kids in Switzerland By Claudia Laroye


Planning an overnight Alpine hike with our sons during a family holiday in Switzerland, we knew we needed a journey that would energize their bodies and ignite their imaginations – along with a healthy number of snacks and luck with fickle mountain weather. Fortunately, the country’s extensive national hiking network of more than 40,000 miles of trails is perfect for planning experiences of nearly any length and difficulty. There is always a charming restaurant around the bend, or a cable car to save tired legs from a final descent down a mountain. We’ve done many family hikes and day trips throughout the Swiss Alps. For this particular sleepover hiking adventure, we settled on the Gemmi Pass. This high mountain pass connects

two Swiss cantons, Bern and Valais, across the Bernese Alps. It’s graced with excellent hiking terrain, cable cars, a fascinating touch of Roman Empire history, and a fabulous, kid-friendly spa finish. Most importantly, it’s not so long as to produce calls of ‘are we there yet?’ or turn the kids off of hiking completely. It was the ideal choice for a comfortable overnight journey in the mountains. We began our hiking trip on the Bernese side in the small scenic village of Kandersteg. After ascending up the steep rock face on the Sunnbüel cable car, we headed along the trail in a southerly direction with the sun high overhead.

2021 | Ultimate Family Vacations




This was the opposite course that Roman soldiers walking the pass over 2,000 years ago would have traveled as they headed north on route to Gaul. That the Gemmi Pass had once been used by Roman legionnaires gave the hike priceless credibility with our sons. They felt like they were back in the Roman Empire period and eagerly searched in vain for long-lost coins along the trail. The hike’s length of almost five miles with a small uphill grade was a perfect distance, allowing for coin scavenging, some adventurous bouldering, and time to enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch, including Swiss chocolate sandwiches for dessert. The high Alpine landscape was rocky and populated by sheep who spend the summer high in the mountains, grazing on delicate wildflowers and grass. After passing the Daubensee, a sizeable lake whose shoreline hosts an annual shepherd’s festival in July, we celebrated our successful hiking day with bowls of ice cream on the expansive patio of our clifftop accommodation. The spectacular panorama of the Swiss Alps stretched out before us. But our journey was only half over. After a delicious three-course dinner and fitful sleep, we rose early the next 36 Ultimate Family Vacations | 2021

morning to undertake the 2950-foot descent into the small village of Leukerbad in Valais. The steep decline and cliff edges presented no issues to the boys, who skipped down the trail like mountain goats while I carefully stepped around switchbacks and veered away from vertigo-inducing drops. Walking into the spa town, we headed straight for its famed bad, thermal hot springs that had also been enjoyed by Romans in their day. Soaking sore legs in the healing waters of this family-friendly spa, we contemplated the success of our Swiss trekking adventure, our minds already planning our next family hiking quest.



As countries start their slow reopenings, our wanderlust and desire to venture beyond our immediate neighborhoods will grow, too. Yet, we still must be hyper-conscious of the current situation. With enhanced safety and health measures, thoroughly trained cleaning staff, distanced group arrivals, sanitization packages and more, renting a villa is an ideal option to enjoy an intimate vacation with your family, safely away from the crowds. For more information about the various cleanliness and safety protocols, or to book a stay at one of these villas, contact your trusted travel advisor who is always there for you – before, during and after your travels.

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