Friday, May 11, 2018

When several generations vacation together

Multi-generational travel—often to celebrate a special anniversary or family reunion-- is one of the fastest growing segments of the vacation industry. But if cruising on a mega-ship or visiting large theme parks with thousands of other people doesn’t meet your idea of quality togetherness, there are other options.

You can quickly replace technological connectivity with personal connectivity when family members bond over shared experiences—and everyone benefits. While travel companies have developed new offerings to appeal to multiple generations traveling together, you can also plan your own fun vacation around excursions such as these:

Cumberland Lake is the houseboating capital of the U.S.
 Love water activities—but hate sticky saltwater at the beach?  Rent a houseboat on Cumberland Lake in southeastern Kentucky.  Cruise on your private resort, and park in a secluded cove.  Large, luxurious houseboats can easily sleep 12, and several boats can be moored together to accommodate larger groups.

With a little instruction, driving a house boat is easy to learn.
Surprisingly simple to operate, rented boats come with hands-on learning time and two-way radios for help if you have questions.  With fully equipped kitchens, TVs, back-end slides, and gas grills, houseboats offer ready-made entertainment literally right outside the door.  Kids, parents, and grandparents enjoy whiling away the hours with swimming, fishing, and relaxing—then cooking up the day’s catch.

Advantages include only unpacking once (bedrooms have more storage than a typical cruise ship cabin), water and sunshine all day, and clear, star-lit skies at night.  Beautiful scenery is unspoiled by development, since land surrounding Cumberland Lake is owned by the U. S.  Corps of Engineers.  There is no better place to build or maintain family relationships than in your own aquatic paradise.

Llamas follow a lead without threatening
hikers and carry supplies.

If you love the outdoors but not water wings, try a llama trek. Learn how to lead a llama and how not to invades his personal space. One of the oldest domesticated animals on the planet, llamas are more docile and compliant than horses and make wonderful pack animals.  They are agile, social, and non-threatening for inexperienced trekkers, including children.

Llama treks in Carson National Forest near Red River and throughout northern New Mexico are a terrific multi-generational adventure, with half-day to multi-day excursions (including gourmet organic meals) designed according to weather conditions and needs of the hikers. Enjoy the sights and sounds and feel the peacefulness of the woods while gaining affinity for llamas, knowledge about ecology and the environment, and an appreciation for nature to apply later at home.


Holland, Michigan is a town for all seasons and all reasons, especially if windmills, wooden shoes, and Dutch treats are on the agenda.  An unmistakable Dutch influence permeates the town, and Main Street has a decidedly European flavor even though it’s near the shore of Lake Michigan.
Sure, there are windmills in Holland, MI.

Named an All American City, Holland makes a delightful weekend getaway or vacation destination.  Whether you’re looking for beaches and parks in summer, fun festivals and special events such as the weeklong Tulip Festival in spring, farmer’s markets overflowing with produce and flowers in fall, or cross-country skiing in the winter, Holland has it all.  Abundant biking and hiking trails, an active arts community, museums, and shopping in the revitalized downtown area (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) are some of the activities appealing to various family members. 

Take in unique Dutch attractions such as Windmill Island, where you can climb up the last authentic windmill to leave the Netherlands—a working structure built in 1625.  Visit the Dutch Village Theme Park, and listen to the beautifully carved street organ play melodies derived from authentic brown punched paper.  

Houses proudly reflect the Dutch influence in Holland, Michigan.
Watch wooden shoe carving or purchase a traditional blue and white souvenir at DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory.  Then head to Lake Michigan’s shoreline to see Big Red, Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse, and stop to savor bayside cuisine and a harbor view at nearby Piper Restaurant.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides many family activities
and beautiful scenery 
Another destination full of family fun is Gatlinburg,Tennessee, a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Waterfalls are abundant, with some right on the highway’s edge for easy viewing and others a leisurely walk away. Summer programs and camps provide hands-on discovery activities for all ages.

Check out the aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN.
Scenic drives throughout the region, nearby white water rafting in summer and zip lining year round, old fashioned hay rides and harvest festivals in fall, and celebrations marking the extensive arts and crafts community throughout the year (especially around Christmas) mean there’s something for everyone. 

Gatlinburg is also known as the nation’s wedding capital after Las Vegas, so there’s another reason to bring the family together.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

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