Easy Days on Aruba
White sand, teal-blue water and an average year-round temperature of 82 degrees—is it any wonder this Dutch Caribbean isle is a favorite with families? Older kids may prefer Conchi, an Instagram-able turquoise pool surrounded by volcanic rock outcroppings. For shallower waters, try Baby Beach, on the southeast part of the island. All ages adore The Butterfly Farm (J.E. Irausquin Boulevard, Oranjestad Zeerovers; 011-297-586-3656; thebutterflyfarm.com), where swallowtails and blue morphos flit about the grounds. Don’t leave the island without stopping by Zeerover’s (270 Savaneta; 011-297-584-2544; lunch for two, $20*) for shrimp and mahimahi.
Wholesome Fun in the Poconos
Pennsylvania’s Poconos region has long been a family destination. Kids love Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark (1 Great Wolf Dr.; 800-768-9653; greatwolf.com), which has a dizzying array of watery fun, including a Hydro Plunge roller-coaster-and-waterslide with a 52-foot drop. There’s also a calmer lazy river. Or check out Mother Nature’s waterpark at Bushkill Falls (888-287-4545; visitbushkillfalls.com), a series of eight waterfalls you’ll hike through forest to see. The Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm (347 Quiet Valley Rd., Stroudsburg; 570-992-6161; quietvalley.org) is fun in spring because you may see sheep being sheared and baby chicks.
Adventures in Cancún
Where else can you snorkel with underwater statues and explore Maya ruins? At the Museo Subacuático de Arte (by guided tour only; 011-52-1-998-887-5501; musacancun.org), some 500 life-size sculptures sit under the sea at Cancún–Isla Mujeres Marine Park. If you’d rather stay close to shore, Playa Caracol and Playa Langosta are prime beaches. For a little action, there’s the zip-lining tour at Selvatica Park (866-552-8825; selvatica.com.mx); you’ll soar through the rain forest canopy like one of the native Yucatecan jaybirds. The Chichén Itzá Maya ruins are on many tourists’ radar, but if you want something different, head to lesser-known, quieter El Meco (Carr. Puerto Juarez), built in the third century. Kids will love seeing its current inhabitants: iguanas.
Parking It in Orlando
For families that love theme parks, there’s no better vacation: Orlando has been all about family fun since Walt Disney World (407-939-2273; disney.go.com) opened there, in 1971. At Universal Studios, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (407-363-8000; universalorlando.com) is every bit as detailed as the movie sets, and the staffers are flown in from the UK for accent authenticity. And La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil (disneyworld.com/lanouba; 407-939-7600) is a world of the extraordinary where people of all ages will be mesmerized by a spectacle that makes the impossible possible. One more site not to miss: the 50-acre Harry P. Leu Gardens (1920 N. Forest Ave.; 407-246-2620; leugardens.org), a leafy break from the theme-park crowds.
Lessons Learned in Vancouver
This west coast Canadian city is chockablock with stuff for kids. Check out Science World at Telus World of Science (1455 Quebec St.; 604-443-7440; scienceworld.ca), housed in the domed former Expo 86 center and filled with eye-popping exhibitions. Follow that with a stop at the Vancouver Aquarium (845 Avison Way; 604-659-3474; vanaqua.org), where you can interact with Chester, a rescued false killer whale, and pet sea anemones and starfish in the touch pools. Get a free walking tour of Granville Island (604-666-6655; granvilleisland.com), a peninsula that has a farmers market and lots of restaurants, when you buy hop-on, hop-off tickets for the Vancouver Trolley (888-451-5581; vancouvertrolley.com). Families eager to get out of the city love Maplewood Farm (405 Seymour River Place; 604-929-5610; maplewoodfarm.bc.ca), 10 minutes from town. Everyone can meet fluffy rabbits, sheep and a horse named Snicklefritz, all lovingly cared for by the Vancouver park service.
Get Inspired in the Berkshires
The rolling hills of the Berkshires have stirred artists from Norman Rockwell to Edith Wharton to James Taylor. Start at Mass MoCa (1040 MASS MoCa Way, North Adams; 413-662-2111; massmoca.org), where kids create their own works of art at Kidspace (after viewing inspiring rainbow-bright wall drawings by Sol LeWitt). There’s something for almost everyone at the Berkshire Museum (39 South St.; 413-443-7171; berkshiremuseum.org). If your tots are 7 or older, they can navigate the aerial ropes course through a hemlock forest at Ramblewild (110 Brodie Mountain Rd., Lanesborough; 844-472-6253; ramblewild.com). Or explore the area on foot at Monument Mountain (Great Barrington; thetrustees.org), whose 1,642-foot Squaw Peak offers a bird’s-eye view of the Housatonic River Valley. If your kids won’t put down their devices, ever, take them by Hancock Shaker Village (1843 W. Housatonic St., Pittsfield; 413-443-0188; hancockshakervillage.org), where they’ll learn about things there are no apps for, like blacksmithing and box making.
Kid-Friendly New York City
Big fun in the Big Apple can be had this year at SeaGlass Carousel at the Battery (State and Water Sts., Manhattan; 212-344-3491; seaglasscarousel.nyc), where you can ride whirling, glowing fiberglass fish. Other city kid classics are the vintage trains at the Transit Museum (Boerum Place and Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn; 718-694-1600; mta.info), the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum (103 Orchard St., Manhattan; 212-982-8420; tenement.org) and a sleepover among lifelike dioramas of African elephants and a 94-foot-long blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th St., Manhattan; 212-769-5100; amnh.org).
Desert Excursion to Palm Springs
There’s plenty for the whole gang in this California town. Start with a 10-minute, 2.5-mile ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (1 Tram Way; 760-325-1391; pstramway.com) to the 8,516-foot peak of Mountain Station for a view of the entire valley. You’ll glimpse area wildlife, coyotes and bobcats included, at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (47900 Portola Ave.; 760-346-5694; livingdesert.org). Or check out creatures that once roamed here at the delightfully campy Cabazon Dinosaurs (50770 Seminole Dr.; 951-922-0076; cabazondinosaurs.com), where you can climb four stories up inside the mouth of a T. rex. And don’t miss the otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park (74485 National Park Dr.; 760-367-5500; nps.gov), where desert tortoises explore Indian Cove in spring.
If Kauai looks like a set for Pirates of the Caribbean, that’s because it was: Many scenes were filmed here. Family fun starts at Kilohana Estate (3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy.; 808-245-5608; kilohanakauai.com), including a train tour that wends through pineapple fields. And at Smith’s Family Garden Luau (3-5971 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa; 808-821-6895; smithskauai.com), you’ll find a party complete with drums, fire-knife dancing and a pig roast. Kids will enjoy hiking along the two-mile Kawaikoi Stream Trail, at Kokee State Park (dlnr.hawaii.gov); and all ages love strolling Lumahai Beach, on the north shore.
Fairbanks for Families
One reason to make Fairbanks a jumping-off point: Running Reindeer Ranch (907-455-4998; runningreindeer.com), where you can book a guided hike through birch forests thick with reindeer. You can also make a day trip of Angel Rocks Trail, taking the loop through spruce forests to Chena Hot Springs Resort (Chena Hot Springs Rd.; 907-451-8104; chenahotsprings.com). You’ll be rewarded with a piping-hot mineral lake in which you can ease your sore muscles. The adjacent Aurora Ice Museum is made entirely of ice. Hand-carved ice sculptures in the form of medieval jousters, horses and even a life-size chess set await you here.
RCI® affiliated resorts in some of the featured destinations include:
RCI® TipNeed help deciding where to travel this spring? RCI® TV provides you with great travel tips, in-depth resort and destination videos, previews of local attractions and much more to help you plan your next vacation. Visit RCI.com/RCITV today!
For member reviews and additional resort listings, visit RCI.com or call 800-338-7777 (Weeks) or 877-968-7476 (Points). Club Members, please call your specific Club or RCI telephone number.
Non-RCI affiliated resorts in these areas include:
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa1571 Poipu Rd., Koloa, HI; 808-742-1234; kauai.hyatt.com; doubles from $509 a night
Pike’s Waterfront Lodge1850 Hoselton Rd, Fairbanks, AK; 877-774-2400; pikeslodge.com; doubles from $102 a night
L’Hermitage Hotel788 Richards St., Vancouver, B.C.; 888-855-1050; lhermitagevancouver.com; doubles from $269 a night
Library Hotel299 Madison Ave., New York, NY; 212-983-4500; libraryhotel.com; doubles from $304 a night
Villa Carmelita—Sonny and CherPalm Springs, CA; 760-778-7832; vacationpalmsprings.com; from $1,199 a night (sleeps 12)
Midcentury MartiniPalm Springs, CA; 760-778-7832; vacationpalmsprings.com; from $325 a night (sleeps six)
- *Prices have been converted to U.S. dollars. Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax, or tip.
- NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
- Published: Spring 2016