As summer ends, it’s time to plan that last hurrah before the kids get fully invested in their academic year. But do you head to the beach, an art town or somewhere that’s geared toward the younger crowd? Chances are you’ll want a bit of everything, and these five destinations more than fit the bill. Prepare to splash and swim, go on a culinary adventure, dive into history and tap into your creative side, all with your young ones in tow.
Natural splendor and classic luxury make for an ideal family escape at Five-Star The Broadmoor. Situated on 3,000 acres, the iconic Rocky Mountain property was made for little explorers, as were the additional 2,000 acres of The Broadmoor Wilderness Experience properties that include The Ranch at Emerald Valley, Cloud Camp and Fly Fishing Camp. Tiny travelers can enjoy junior tennis lessons; an 11,000-square-foot, infinity-edge swimming pool complete with water slides; a zip line; golf for kids; and more.
Aside from great spots to rest your head, Colorado Springs is also packed with family-friendly adventures. Take in the stunning red stone structures of Garden of the Gods during a rock climbing, electric bike, open-air jeep or Segway excursion. The site also just debuted a Geo-Trekker theater experience that takes you on a time-traveling trip through the rock formation’s history.
Another must-see attraction, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, is the highest menagerie in the U.S. and home to more than 750 animals representing nearly 150 species — the giraffes are particularly popular here.
Your group can also book a ride on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad for a historical journey on a 100-plus-year-old train through the Colorado Rockies and Royal Gorge canyon. Enjoy the scenic views along with a tasty lunch or book an early morning ride to savor a Western-inspired breakfast with a spectacular sunrise.
San Luis Obispo
While most people choose Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco for their California vacation, it’s time to give San Luis Obispo a chance. Located between Tinseltown and the City by the Bay, this municipality features the best of the Golden State with sun, sand, vineyards, farms and a unique cowboy culture that make it a fun spot for families.
Start your adventure with a day of play at the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum before heading to Avila Beach to check out the Central Coast Aquarium. While you’re here, make the 10-minute trek to Avila Valley Barn to pet and feed baby goats, ponies and chickens (plus an emu) while munching on fresh vegetables, fruit and baked treats.
Gather goodies from the farm stand (or pick your own) for a picnic and head inland to try some Central Coast wine at a kid-friendly tasting room — Wolff Vineyards and Baileyana, Tangent & True Myth (which has two bocce ball courts by the vineyard) are both excellent options in Edna Valley.
If you decide to visit in the fall, make sure to stop by Pismo Beach to check out the famous monarch butterfly migration starting in late October.
Though there’s a lot to do in SLO Cal, there aren’t many luxury accommodations, which is why taking the time to drive an hour or so south to Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Hotel Corque is well worth the trek. Located in the Danish hamlet of Solvang, this charming property features a pool, alfresco dining at Root 246 and gorgeous views of the surrounding wineries. Nearby, you will also find the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area and Ostrichland USA, where your youngsters can feed the giant birds and watch them wander around, cage-free.
If you’d rather stay a little closer to town, book into Allegretto Vineyard Resort, a European-inspired hotel on a 20-acre winery in Paso Robles. Opt for the property’s Splash and Stay package to make the most of your end-of-summer escape with complimentary passes for the whole family to The Ravine Waterpark, which closes for the season after Labor Day.
Break out of your usual vacation routine by heading to this south-of-the-border cultural gem. Begin with a visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum, where your little ones can explore exhibits dedicated to one of Mexico’s most famous artists.
Follow the art theme with a stop at Coyoacan Market to pick up handcrafted souvenirs that will make their next show-and-tell even more fun. Be sure to fuel up with coffee and churros at one of the charming cafés in and around the shopping area — dipping chocolate is optional, but highly recommended.
A visit to Chapultepec Castle should also be in the cards — not just for its rich history (this is the only North American castle built for actual royals), but also so you can take in the beautiful surrounding park and the stunning view of the city.
Make your trip extra memorable by taking advantage of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The St. Regis Mexico City’s Family Traditions package. Right in the heart of the action, the high-rise hotel offers an array of cultural experiences for all ages, such as organized bike tours to Papalote Museo del Niño (Papalote Children’s Musuem) or a chef-led shopping excursion to San Juan Market that’s followed by a cooking lesson and dinner.
Get a dose of European charm without wading through huge throngs of tourists by heading to Ireland’s capital for a late-summer escape. Wander through St Stephen’s Green Park and then check out the nearby Iveagh Gardens with its yew maze, abundant rose bushes and wonderful fountains. Get your kids excited for the school year by visiting Trinity College, a historical institution that houses centuries-old texts (most notably the famous Book of Kells) in one of the most amazing libraries your little scholars will ever see.
Fuel the body at Benburb Street’s Fish Shop (the Queen Street location serves only a multi-course menu) with classic Irish dishes such as quality fish and chips, scallops and mussels. Or go for a traditional charcuterie platter and a blaas (a soft white roll stuffed with local meats, cheeses and vegetables) at Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen, located downstairs in The Little Museum of Dublin.
After a jaunt around this enchanting city, little ones can rest their weary feet at Four-Star The Merrion, a cozy, art-filled 18th-century stay. Tiny travelers are welcome to splash around in the indoor pool, partake in a classic afternoon tea and sip specially shaken mocktails after a long day of sightseeing. And when your brood is ready to hit the road again, simply ask the concierge to book you a cycle tour on the property’s fashionable bikes — and don’t forget to request a picnic lunch to enjoy in one of Dublin’s many gardens.
Kids of all ages can live out their Wild West dreams in Wyoming, where trains, cattle ranches and natural splendor still thrive. Tour the capital city aboard a Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley, but be sure to hop off for a visit to the Cheyenne Depot Museum, where you can have a history lesson on the area’s trains and a bite at the venue’s brewpub restaurant.
Explore the region’s wild side with a trip to Curt Gowdy State Park. There you’ll traverse 35 miles of hiking and biking trails; fish at one of the three reservoirs; and camp under the stars. For the full cowboy experience, book a horseback tour with Pine Ranch and follow the park’s scenic trails aboard your noble steed.
For a tamer interaction with Mother Nature, visit the 28,000-square-foot Grand Conservatory at Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, a new attraction that features a Baroque-style orangery, bonsai garden and a view of the city through the Navy submarine periscope.
After perusing the plants, kids can visit the Paul Smith Children’s Village, a play area for all ages with giant Jenga, wetlands, a secret garden and more outdoor fun to explore. Get lunch or an early dinner at the kitschy but tasty Bunkhouse Bar & Grill before saddling up and heading in for the night.
Continue the frontier theme with a stay at Nagle Warren Mansion, a historic bed and breakfast built in 1888 by famous local businessman, Erasmus Nagle. The 12-room inn boasts an authentic Victorian-Western vibe with wooden sleigh beds, patterned wallpaper and clawfoot tubs. Try to reserve The Francis E. Warren Room — not only is it the most opulent unit, but it can be connected to the adjoining Clara Warren Room so parents and kids can have ample room to kick up their cowboy boots.