3 Adventure Vacations for Active Families

Ever heard the saying, “The family that plays together, stays together?”  Well, it’s not just a cute quote or a saying for a T-shirt – it’s true!  Engaging in physical activities with your family has many health benefits, and it’s a great excuse to spend quality time together.

Incorporating play and exercise into your travel itinerary is a sure-fire way to add an element of adventure to your journey. It will also help your crew strengthen their bonds with one another, build trust and create memories that will last long after the trip ends.

Don’t believe me? I speak from experience! One time I dragged my mom on a hike through the arid peaks and valleys of Cappadocia, Turkey. She complained the whole time about the heat, but bragged to her friends afterward about the incredible views. There was another time I traveled with my husband to Scotland to run a half marathon along Edinburgh’s craggy coastline.  At the end of the race we were exhausted, but also buoyed by a huge sense of accomplishment.

With that said, there’s no need to jet off to faraway lands to get the same feeling. After all, there are loads of options for active family vacations right here in the U.S.!  Here are three ideas for family adventure vacations you can take with your loved ones.

The Hudson Valley

A gem of New York State, the Hudson Valley is a 10-county-strong region that extends from the Hudson River in Westchester County to Albany, the state capital. If you’re flying in, you can pick up your Alamo rental car from any of three airports servicing New York City and expect a highly scenic, 2 to 2.5-hour drive to the region. Given the area is so geographically vast, there is a range of active things for families to do, and at all levels of physical fitness. For example, hiking enthusiasts looking for an adrenaline-pumping experience can tackle difficult trails like Breakneck Ridge. (I did this one with my husband and can safely say that it is not for the faint of heart!) For families with younger children, Bear Mountain State Park, found right on the Hudson River, is a great option as it is also home to Trailside Museums and Zoo. This complex has parking, a trail, and a zoo that houses animals like snakes and salamanders. And for a relaxing activity for the whole family, you can pick your own bushels at Fishkill Farm, a relaxing apple and vegetable orchard found in Dutchess County.

Bear Mountain State Park Bear Mountain State Park. Photo credit: Elizabeth Surphlis


Yellowstone National Park

Sprawling across the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park is suitable for families looking for a bit more of a physical and environmental challenge. Flying in? Families can pick up their Alamo rental from airports in nearby Billings or Salt Lake City. The majestic 3,500-square-mile park is perched atop an active super-volcano! With a location like that, it comes as no surprise that there are adventures to be had at every turn. There’s really something for everyone: The hot springs, white water rafting, geysers and wildlife safaris are just the tip of the iceberg. With that said, a visit to see the Old Faithful geyser is an absolute must. After taking in the geyser’s powerful and spellbinding eruptions, you can hike to Observation Point for a panoramic view of the Upper Geyser Basin, and spend a night (or three!) camping under the stars at the Madison or Grant Village Campgrounds.

Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park. Photo credit: Robb Lanum


The Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is for those looking for the ultimate active family adventure vacation. At over 2,600 miles long, this hiking and equestrian trail snakes through three states (California, Oregon, and Washington), seven national parks and is America’s second longest trail. Given how expansive the trail is, there are many airports at which you can pick up your rental car, though San Diego, Reno, and Los Angeles are among the most popular. Families with children will enjoy the relatively short and easy hike from Parks Creek Trailhead into the Deadfall Lakes Basin.  If you’re a hiking enthusiast seeking a challenge, the section of the trail from Lake Tahoe to Shasta might just be for you-- at 400 miles long, more stamina and experience is imperative! The Cottonwood Pass section of the PCT offers hikes of varying difficulty and is a gateway to the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  Whichever trail you choose, the PCT is an impressive physical challenge and provides the perfect opportunity to for families to bonding through sport.

Whether your idea of getting physical includes a multi-day hike through the mountains or a day spent apple-picking in an orchard, active family vacations are the perfect way to spend meaningful and productive time with your loved ones. Getting that blood-pumping through exercise is also a fantastic way to keep your body fit and your heart happy – literally and figuratively.

Vacation Stories

More Travel Hacks & Tips


5 Fun Family Races Across the US

5 Fun Family Races Across the US

If you’ve run in your fair share of color-flying races in your own town, and you’re looking for a way to branch out and see more of the country at the same time, we’ve got the list for you.

Wellness Travel: 5 Relaxing, Renewing Vacations

Wellness Travel: 5 Relaxing, Renewing Vacations

Vacation gives people the chance to disconnect from daily life, but with jam-packed itineraries, long layovers and jetlag, travelers often come home from a trip more exhausted than when they left.

Tell the Kids to Take a Hike (With You)

Tell the Kids to Take a Hike (With You)

Getting everyone up and at ‘em can be hard. Especially when it means sacrificing cell phone signals and Wi-Fi for some good old-fashioned togetherness.

About the Author

Oneika Raymond

Oneika is the voice behind "Oneika the Traveller", an award-winning travel blog dedicated to inspiring, encouraging, and empowering women and people of color to see the world. A thrill-seeker who's always in the midst of planning her next trip, Oneika has bungee jumped over the Zambezi River, fished for piranhas in the Amazon, and climbed active volcanoes in Guatemala and Ecuador.