Exciting Vacation Ideas

If you want to break out of your usual vacation mold, try on some new ideas and see how they fit your family's sense of fun.
Great Vacation Tips
Man and woman with two kids on beach The beach is plenty of fun
for grownups and kids alike.

The key to a great vacation is figuring out what you want to do or where you want to go. Sure, there's a lot to be said for visiting the relatives, going to the lakehouse, or making the pilgrimage to Disney World. But maybe you want to mix it up a little. Make a family project of coming up with this year's vacation ideas -- you'll build excitement for your upcoming time off. Start by ordering a pizza and having a vacation brainstorming party. Here are 10 great ideas to get your party -- and your summer fun -- started.

Seashelling and Rock-Hunting

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea ... For grownups and kids alike, just being at the shore is enough. You can make the beach even more enjoyable by giving a sense of mission to the sandy proceedings. Go on a seashelling spree -- you'll have treasure-hunting good fun and come home with marine mementos that really tell a story. Your possibilities are as expansive as the miles of public coastline. If you're landlocked this vacation but still want that treasure-hunting rush, try rock-hunting. There's hardly a more hands-on way to learn about the marvels of geology -- and you'll be outside as a family to boot.

River-Rafting, Kayaking, Canoeing

Outfitters all over the country can fix you up with the right kind of craft to get your family out on the water. There's everything from spectacular trips down the rip-roaring Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to quiet canoe excursions on calm lakes. No matter what the craft and where you put in, making a water outing the centerpiece of a vacation ensures memorable family fun.

Dude Ranches and Guest Ranches

Want to see how the western half lives? Dude ranches give city slickers the chance not just to see but to do. The American frontier's no longer a place where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play, but ranches retain a lot of rustic charm that's worlds apart from the usual. Boots, chaps, and a welcoming "Howdy, pardner" are just the beginning of authentic ranching fun. Trail rides, cattle roundups, and good chow come with the dusty territory -- so do lifetime memories.

Houseboating

You can't get closer to the water than this. Make your temporary home on a lake, bay, or swamp and discover a different way to live off the land. A houseboat can be your base of operation for fishing, boating, water-skiing, or just being. Your neighbors are birds and fish, and your clock is the rising and setting sun. Run the generator if you want power for the TV. Better yet, leave civilization behind and power your family life with the quiet joy of just being together out on the water.

Hiking/Backpacking as a Family

A scenic trail, a good map, a backpack full of supplies, good weather, and enough gorp to go around. What more could a hiking family need? A couple of tents or a cabin to keep you sheltered at night, a fire to eat and sing around, a starry sky to contemplate, and all of Mother Nature to enjoy. That's what backpacking is all about -- and you can take advantage of it almost anywhere there's a trailhead.

Continued on page 2:  Five More Unusual Ideas