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Taking the Kids: Making the most of summer vacation

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Be flexible! If the kids love a particular museum, water park or beach, go back another day. If no one is enjoying what you've planned, do something else. I know that's tough when you might have paid a lot for theme park tickets, but it's not worth it if everyone is hot and tired of waiting in line.

The Taking the Kids Summer Fun section, compiled with our friends at Family Travel Forum, offers 51 ideas for summer vacation, whatever your budget and how much time you have. Family Travel Forum also invites teens to blog about their experience in the 13th annual Teen Travel Writing Scholarship. And my Kid’s Guide Series to major American cities and parks can help the kids plan your vacation with you.

Another tip: Consider travel insurance, especially if you are flying and have booked a pre-paid resort or cruise. It only takes one illness or a single tantrum during an already tight layover to send your trip spiraling out of control. The good news is that travel insurance not only offers relief from plans gone awry but in some cases, insures the kids free.

Here are five ideas you may not have considered:

SEE WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM. Well recognized in Europe, farm stays and farm vacations are gaining popularity as more farms offer overnight lodging, meals and the chance to see where your food comes from. The kids can help gather eggs, feed the chickens and more. The Family Travel Forum agritourism vacation guide is a good resource. At the very least, visit a local farmer's market -- you'll likely find them wherever you are -- or spend a morning picking seasonal fruit and then head out on a picnic.

HEAD TO A SKI TOWN. There's as much to do in summer as in winter and even in Aspen, hotels are a lot less. Whether you opt for Park City, Utah, Breckinridge, Colorado, (where my family is gathering in July) or Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, you'll find plenty of hiking, mountain biking, summer festivals, activities for kids (think alpine coasters and junior obstacle courses) and yes, farmer's markets.

CARIBBEAN FLAVOR. Caribbean islands are popular with families in the summer because rates are so much lower than in winter, and the beaches and cultural attractions are just as appealing. This summer, we're seeing a refreshed Bermuda, where activities range from beach to spelunking, marine exploration and dolphin encounters to electric cars. Consider Antigua, where Curtain Bluff is both upscale and kid-friendly. In addition, if your kids are pining to go to Atlantis in the Bahamas, consider staying at the newly renovated Comfort Suites next door where breakfast is free and you have access to all that Atlantis has to offer.


SAIL AWAY on a cruise, especially if you are planning a multigenerational trip. There will be activities for all ages (supervised programming even for preschoolers), you can cruise from a port that's drivable from home, and everyone will know in advance what everything costs. Our Taking the Kids 2019 Family Cruise Guide can give you the rundown on what's new this season, and which cruise lines are best for which ages.

CITY LIGHTS. Check in to a city hotel on a weekend after the business people are gone and you can often snare a good deal. Leave the car at home and then get around like the locals do, on foot or public transportation. Here's the chance to let the kids lead the way, whether you are in New York (a new Statue of Liberty Museum has just opened), San Antonio (the Alamo is America's latest UNESCO World Heritage Site and Texas' most visited historic landmark), Denver (watch the Rockies play right downtown) or Montreal for a taste of Europe and where most concerts are free at the International Festival de Jazz de Montreal. It runs this year June 27 through July 6.

Now, just remember to be spontaneous, as least a little bit!


(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow "taking the kids" on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments.)



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