No matter what the naysayers may tell you, having kids doesn’t mean that you have to put an end to your days of adventure. Simply plan to bring your young ones along, and you’ll make memories that last a lifetime on an action-packed, fun-filled family adventure vacation.
Whether you want to get your adrenaline racing in the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, or beyond, there are countless experiences to choose from. Perhaps you’re seeking out unforgettable wildlife encounters or a trek to exotic natural wonders; whatever your passion, the possibilities range from excursions deep below the sea to hikes up soaring mountain peaks—and plenty in between.
Options for family adventure vacation ideas abound, no matter your age or interests. Try snorkeling with marine wildlife in azure Caribbean seas, hiking to rugged mountaintops in off-the-path Europe, or sledding with dogs in Alaska,
Just make sure to capture the magic of adventure travel together now while you still can – after all, it won’t be long before your kids are old enough to set out into the world and seek out adventures on their own.
Here are seven incredible family adventure vacations for an inspirational getaway with the gang that’s sure to instill in your kids a unique appreciation for the world around them.
Snorkel in Cozumel Reefs National Park
Located in the Caribbean waters off of the southern tip of Mexico’s Cozumel island, an underwater dreamscape beckons divers and snorkelers from around the globe. The protected marine reserve at Cozumel Reefs National Park (or Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel, in Spanish) offers a rich coral reef and vibrant marine life where families can experience an ocean adventure like no other.
Visitors can swim and dive in the cerulean, crystal-clear waters, while snorkeling offers the best of both worlds, giving kids an amphibious means of exploring and appreciating the tropical marine life all around.
Head out to a prime Cozumel snorkeling site via a guided boat tour on excursions that are led by expert divemasters. You’ll dive around the best spots of the park’s nearly 30,000 acres of coastline and sea, which are filled with more than 100 different types of coral varieties and over 260 species of fish. If you’re really lucky, you might even come upon a sea turtle, giant moray eel, or whale shark.
Cozumel Reefs National Park is part of the second-largest coral reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef, which is beaten out in size only by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
The area, which has been preserved by the Mexican government since 1996, remains an important center for scientific research and social education. Just keep in mind that due to the sensitive nature of the preserve, you’ll have to remind your kids not to stand on or touch the reefs or to disturb the marine life in any way. Be sure to pack sunscreen that is biodegradable and reef-friendly, as well.
Also, if you are planning on spending some time exploring the reef, make sure that you and your brood are proficient swimmers. Snorkeling excursions around the reef are recommended for ages eight and up.
Go Dog Sledding in Alaska
If your kids love pups and have a need for speed, Alaska has the perfect family adventure vacation opportunity for you. Dog sledding may seem like an Alaskan pastime from the past, but it’s a genuinely popular sport among the locals today.
You don’t have to brave an Alaskan winter or train in the big leagues to experience a taste of Alaskan dog-sledding. Throughout the year, there are numerous opportunities across Alaska to hop on a sled pulled along by powerful pups.
In the small, seaside city of Seward, for instance, you can meet real-life Iditarod racers and their sled dogs and hear firsthand accounts about the demands of the race. You’ll also get to tour the racing kennels and cuddle some of the puppies, too.
When there isn’t snow on the ground, the two-mile-long sled rides are conducted aboard the custom, wheeled sleds that the dogs use for training. In Seward, expansive views of Resurrection Mountain only complement this exceptional adventure.
Trek Up Montserrat
Embark on a popular day trip from Barcelona, where you and the clan will climb the rugged terrain of Montserrat mountain, a symbol of Catalonia that’s known for its distinctive rock formations, as well as its (name-sharing) monastery and national park.
A trek through Montserrat Natural Park (or Parc Natural de la Muntanya de Montserrat, in Spanish) will bring the family past babbling brooks, deep ravines, lookout points, and signature rock turrets and pillars. Keep your eyes peeled for numerous species of birds and reptiles, as well.
You might want to start at the top and work your way down. Kids of all ages will appreciate the glass-enclosed funicular ride up top, with its aerial views over the mountain and surrounding scenery. From this lofty perch, on a clear day, you can take in views that stretch out to the Mediterranean and on to the Pyrenees. It’s a splendid spot to spread out a picnic.
The perch here also overlooks the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery, which is home to the shrine of La Moreneta, also known as the Black Virgin of Montserrat. This revered icon has been deemed a pilgrimage site within the Catholic world. Queue up for a closer look and while waiting, you’ll find opulence abounds: Be sure to notice the golden stairway leading to the statue, as well as the gilded altar on which she is perched.
Ride a UTV in Aruba’s Arikok National Park
Explore Aruba’s rolling, cacti-covered hills in the Arikok National Park, which protects the Southern Caribbean nation’s flora and fauna in a landmass that spans nearly 20 percent of the island.
One of the best ways to explore the nearly 8,000 acres of dramatic and rugged terrain is on a UTV, or Utility Terrain Vehicle. (A UTV is similar to an ATV, but passengers can be seated side by side.) These guided, off-road adventures allow you to see the arid beauty of Aruba and offer just the kind of family adventure vacation that you’re after.
Cruise past aloe plants, twisting divi-divi trees, and several varieties of cacti. There are dozens of species of birds, lizards, and even wild donkeys and goats, too. Plus, there are plenty of natural attractions that include massive caves, dry river beds, secluded bays, and unique rock formations. There’s also Mt. Arikok and Mt. Jamanota; the latter is Aruba’s highest peak (at 620 feet).
One of the biggest highlights of the park is the pool-shaped Natural Pool, a rock-enclosed formation near the surrounding sea’s powerful waves.
There are a variety of cultural heritage sites to seek out, too, including ancient Arawak petroglyphs and the remains of an old gold mine.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to sign activity waivers for yourself and the kids, and that you must be a licensed driver (age 23 or over) to hop behind the UTV’s driver’s seat.
Kayak in Malta’s Golden Bay
The under-the-radar European island of Malta is home to some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. Sure, you can simply beach bum on them, but adventurous families won’t want to miss the chance to launch a kayak out onto the seas.
The sandy arc of Golden Beach, perhaps the most photogenic one in Malta, is perfect kayaking territory, where paddlers can trace the rocky and scenic coastline, just off the shores of pristine beach. Along the way, look out for a landscape dotted by wind- and kite-surfers, and tucked-away creeks and caves.
The most persistent paddlers will be rewarded with a visit to the wild and isolated Fomm ir-Riħ cove (translating to “mouth of the wind”), where a dramatic setting pairs blue Mediterranean seas against the contrast of soaring alabaster cliffs. It’s a sight that’s sure to take the breath away from even the littlest lungs.
Play with Sea Lions in the Bahamas
North of Paradise Island in The Bahamas, you’ll find the small Blue Lagoon Island, a day-trip destination well worth seeking out. (Only a 20-minute boat transfer will get you there and back.) Beaches and water sports abound at this private tropical isle, but for a proper family adventure vacation, look no further than the incredible encounter with the beloved Bahamian sea lions on view here.
Families can rub elbows and fins with local sea lions via the interactive “Sea Lion Encounter,” which emphasizes both entertainment and education. Dive in with the sea lions in their all-natural marine habitat, a private lagoon where you can frolic with these fun-loving and friendly marine mammals.
Guest encounters—limited to groups of 10 or less—are arranged via waist-deep water platforms, which offer the perfect vantage point to kiss, hug, and feed your new friends on their home turf.
Don’t take off from Blue Lagoon Island before you’ve had a chance to take a peek at the nearby lagoon filled in with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. There you’ll find a cool stingray exhibit, too.
Kids must be at least eight years old to participate in the sea lion encounter, and those ages eight to twelve must be accompanied by a participating adult.
Go Glacier Flightseeing in Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the U.S., dwarfing Texas and California combined. The Last Frontier is also filled with vast swaths of untouched wilderness, which makes it incredibly appealing as a family adventure vacation destination.
For a unique family vacation idea, embark on a “flightseeing” trip and admire the very best of the state from a bird’s-eye view. Some flightseeing planes are even equipped with special skis that permit you to land atop snowy glaciers.
It’s a perfect pairing, given that seeing Alaska’s glaciers is another quintessential experience. The state is known for its expansive ice fields, some of which can stretch for dozens of miles over mountains, before pouring into valleys where they become gorgeous glaciers. Glaciers are not always easy to reach on foot, which is why a flight is often your best bet for an up-close encounter.
Soar into the sky on a plane or helicopter and overlook Alaska’s rugged landscapes featuring winding rivers, virgin forests, rolling tundra, mountain peaks, and glorious glaciers. Look closely and you might even spot a bear in the wild.
If you’re looking for a truly exhilarating ride, try a helicopter tour out of the old Gold Rush city of Skagway, which will take you thousands of feet above sea level to the top of the Denver Glacier. You’ll get to step out onto this icy blue wonder for an intimate family exploration of this otherworldly Alaskan landscape. (Word to the wise: Make sure you and the little ones dress warmly in layers and don’t forget your shades.)
Feeling inspired to book your own family adventure vacation? Learn more about family cruises on our website. Our award-winning ships cruise to more than 300 destinations around the globe, where endless adventure and family-themed excursions await. Browse our itineraries for more family adventure vacation ideas and inspiration.