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12 Unique Summer Vacations With Grandparents That Aren't Disney World

The Spruce

1. Visit a Chocolate Factory

I can't think of many kids who would say no to this kind of vacation! If you're looking for a simple holiday destination that's both kid and adult friendly, a chocolate factory is where to go.

Hershey's Factory in Pennsylvania is a sweet and welcoming environment where you can go on a tour to see how your favorite candy bar is made. You'll also get a free chocolate sample included in the admission price! Plus, you can make a multi-day trip of it by staying in The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge, or Hersheypark Camping Resort.

Days Inn Hershey
escapehere.com

2. Go on a Wildlife Safari

No need to buy an expensive ticket to Africa. There are plenty of wildlife reserves in the U.S. that will allow you and the grandkids to enjoy an authentic safari.

For example, Safari West is located just a short drive or plane ride away in California. You can book spots in an open vehicle and view giraffes, antelopes, gazelles, zebras, wildebeests, cheetahs, flamingos, and much more. Plus, it's located in the center of wine country, so you can enjoy a glass while the kids explore.  

If you choose to stay overnight or even for a week, you can rent a luxury tent imported from Africa that includes private bathrooms and rustic-looking furnishings.  

Safari West
Safari West

3. Take a River Cruise

Although an ocean voyage might seem a little extreme, if your grandkids are over the age of 8, you might consider taking them on a river cruise.

UnCruise, a family-friendly cruise company based in Seattle and Alaska, provides exciting 7-21 night Alaska adventure cruises with sightseeing and more. Other tours offered are: Costa Rica, Galápagos, Hawaiian Islands, and Mexico.

Each voyage includes family activities such as games in the lounge area, nature hikes, snorkeling, and paddle board races. Also, you save $500 for each child ages 8-13!

Natural Focus Safaris
UnCruise

4. Get Away to a Dude Ranch

A guest ranch holiday isn't all horseback riding and campfires. Take adventurous kids to the wild west this summer and don't forget to pack a plaid shirt and a cowboy hat!

Flathead Lake Lodge in Montana is one of the best family-friendly dude ranches with activities for all ages, including arts & crafts, kids rodeo, biking, junior wrangler program, and pony rides. Do grandma and grandpa like to relax? Enjoy canoeing, sailing, or western fine dining.

The cozy atmosphere also provides ample opportunity to chill out by the fireplace, read a book, visit the horses, or take a nap in one of the luxury wooden rooms.

MiniTime
MiniTime

Go to the next page for more fun trip ideas!

5. Experience a National Park

Chances are, you've never been to all of the national parks in the U.S. If you are a fan of the great outdoors, you might want to spend your summer holiday in a natural setting. Share, explore, and learn about nature with your grandkids with activities such as guided hikes, scenic drives, camping, and lake kayaking. Kids can also enroll in the junior rangers program to earn badges and learn about the environment.

Accommodations vary, but it's a good idea to rent a house or cabin while you're exploring. If you prefer a more rustic option, camping is plentiful.

Some family-friendly national parks you may want to visit:

  • Yellowstone National Park - Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming
  • Yosemite National Park - California
  • Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Zion National Park, Utah
  • Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Backroads
Parents Magazine

6. Explore a City

Maybe hiking and camping isn't for you. That's okay! Take the kids off mom's hands for a few days and bring them to an exciting new city with day trips to museums, science centers, and zoos.

Portland, Washington, and Orlando are all great cities to visit while you have kids in tow, but San Diego has everything you could need for a multi-generational holiday. An Explorer Multi-Day Pass will grant you admission to the famous San Diego Zoo, Natural History Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, The New Children's Museum, SeaWorld San Diego, and more attractions.

Plan my Getaway
Travel Portland

7. Go Glamping

A popular summer vacation for families is camping, but most grandpas and grandmas don't fancy sleeping on the ground. Thanks to glamping, you won't have to. "Glamping" is a term used to describe camping that doesn't involve pitching a tent and sleeping in a bag. It includes a luxury tent already set up for you, complete with floorboards, electricity, a full bathroom, and a comfy bed.  

If you'd like to try a getaway with fancy camping, Paws Up has 2-bedroom tent available for up to 4 people. You'll be able to enjoy all the fun things about camping, s'mores included, without the bugs or the lack of running water.

Laura Davidson Public Relations
The Resort at Paws Up

8. Book a Group Tour

Maybe planning a trip isn't your thing. Let a tour company plan it for you! You'll have memories to last a lifetime without the added hassle of researching accommodations, activities, and transportation. Choose to visit a location within the country or somewhere across the pond like Paris or London.

Companies like Road Scholar specialize in intergenerational getaways with a set itinerary of activities and easy transportation from place to place. The options are endless. You can go to Hawaii, Eagle River, Plymouth, Flagstaff, and more.

Taking The Kids
Road Scholar

Turn the page for 4 more amazing holiday options!

9. Rent a Luxury Tree House

Haven't you always wanted to live in a tree house? Your wish could come true thanks to unique accommodation options. Believe it or not, you can rent tree houses all over the country for a luxury camping-style holiday. These aren't rickety wooden structures - they're made to be among the treetops with all the amenities, including kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and sitting area.

Rent a property similar to Out 'n' About Treehouse Treesort in Cave Junction, Oregon, which can house up to 4 people!  

Uniq Hotels
Mpora

10. Relax at a Family-Friendly Resort

A summer without trips to the beach is a summer wasted. If you're set on going to the beach but want to go with your grandchildren, choose a relaxing all-inclusive resort with family-friendly options. While you're gazing out on the deep blue sea, the kids can stay occupied with activities provided by the resort.

Coconut Bay Resort in St. Lucia is one example of an award-winning resort that offers a built-in water park, paintball, and Cocoland Kidz Club for younger children.  

TripAdvisor
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa

11. Enjoy a Water Park Getaway

One vacation that's sure to make the grandkids happy is one that includes a water park. Slides, wave pools, and diving boards are some of the best things about being a kid. And thanks to the wonderful invention of hot tubs, adults love water parks too.

Wings and Waves Waterpark in McMinnville, Oregon is one of the best because it not only includes a wealth of slides and a giant wave pool with a TV screen, but it also includes a slide that begins at the top of the building - right next to a real Boeing 747 airplane!

Tourist Attractions and Parks Magazine
Visit McMinnville

12. Have a Staycation

Ultimately, spending time with your grandchildren shouldn't have to include spending a ton of money on travel. Forming a bond with your grandkids can be as simple as having them stay with you for a week. I'm sure mom and dad need a break anyways!

Plan a few activities before the grandkids show up. Bake cookies together. Go get ice cream. Take them fishing. Find a local beach and see who can build the biggest sandcastle. Even the tech-savvy kids of today will appreciate the little things in life.

Huff Post
Trilogy Life Blog

Which vacation would you like to go on with your grandchildren? Leave us a comment and SHARE this post with anyone who could use holiday tips!