When kids are young, basically the only requirement for a fun vacation is choosing a hotel that has a pool. But it can be a lot more challenging keeping teenagers happy on a family vacation. Here are vacation ideas that will please both you and your teen…
Learn a sport: If your kids were busy with, say, soccer growing up and missed out on learning the basics of tennis, the last thing they want to do is be a beginner in front of their classmates. Solution: Take them for a family vacation at a tennis camp. A good resource about the various tennis programs (for adults as well as kids) is www.TennisResortsOnline.com. Other sports vacation options: Learn to play golf (check out www.USGolfSchoolGuide.com)…ride horses (http://DudeRanch.org)…and ski (most ski resorts have ski schools for all levels and ages). Of course, focusing on one sport doesn’t have to take over the entire vacation. For example, in Hawaii, sign your child up for a two-hour surfing lesson. That will magically turn the vacation into the trip of a lifetime.
Scuba diving/snorkeling: You’ll find top-notch snorkeling and scuba courses at many tropical resorts, including in the Caribbean. Before committing to plans, make sure that the dive operation is affiliated with a certifying agency, such as the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (www.padi.com/scuba) or National Association of Underwater Instructors (http://naui.org). Good bet: Beaches Sandy Bay in Jamaica (www.Beaches.com/main/sb/sb-home.cfm).
Seaside towns and islands: Small resort towns are ideal for teens. One example is Cape May, New Jersey. Pick a hotel near the boardwalk, and let the kids come and go to the beach and arcades as they please. There’s plenty of history in this Victorian town, as well as a variety of restaurants and shops to keep everyone in the family satisfied. Other seaside towns for family getaways: Provincetown on Cape Cod in Massachusetts…Carmel, California…Seaside, Oregon…and Port Townsend, Washington. As for islands: Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, off the New England coast…San Juan Island, off the Washington coast.
Big, famous cities. You can’t go wrong by visiting New York or San Francisco. There are so many distractions in these cities that your kids will be too preoccupied to complain. At hotels in both places, you can find reasonably priced family suites. Examples: In midtown Manhattan, try the superhip Pod Hotel (230 East 51 St., New York City 10022, 800-742-5945, www.ThePodHotel.com). Family suites—called Townhouse Studio pods—start as low as $209 (depending on availability) and include one queen-size bed and two singles. In San Francisco, try the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel (2500 Mason St., 415-362-5500, www.SheratonAtTheWharf.com).