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Amazing Family Trips
Are you tired of the usual vacations and looking for something the whole family will never forget? Lonely Planet has 10 amazing places that offer the experience of a lifetime.
Safari in Etosha National Park, Namibia. You can drive yourself through this park, which is home to elephants, zebras, lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos, as well as more than 300 species of birds. Accommodations range from camping to luxury digs, and the best time to visit is May to October.
British Museum, London. The museum has a number of programs and exhibits that bring its extensive collections to life. Hands-on programs let kids create projects based on the exhibits; they will have so much fun that they won’t realize they also are learning. And of course, there are many other things to see and do in London.
Sailing the Whitsundays, Australia. You can play on the white sand beaches, snorkel in the beautiful clear water and even camp on the many islands that make up this archipelago. The boat charter company can teach you the basics of sailing on your own. Or if you want to sit back and enjoy the ride, you can get a boat with a crew.
Petroglyphs, Dordogne, France. How cool is it to see images that ancient people painted more than 15,000 years ago? The best petroglyphs here are at the Grotte de Lascaux, which was discovered in 1940. When it became clear that allowing the public in was damaging the paintings, it was closed in 1963, and an exact replica was re-created. Other lovely petroglyphs are at Rouffignac. No one knows exactly why early people painted these images, many of which are signed with handprints, but scientists estimate they are 15,000 to 17,000 years old.
Horseback riding, Wyoming. If the kids – or you – have always dreamed of being a cowboy, Wyoming is a great place to realize that dream. There are lots of options, ranging from staying at a dude ranch or working stock ranch to taking a guided ride through the mountains, where you can get away from the crowds and see breathtaking vistas and wildlife up close.
Elephant sanctuary, Sukhothai, Thailand. You and your family can volunteer at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, which provides a safe home for rescued and retired elephants. You will have a real hands-on experience with these amazing animals, including bringing them food, giving them baths and interacting with them. Accommodations at the sanctuary are not luxurious – think cabins with cold showers – but the money you pay to stay there helps fund the sanctuary’s work.
Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando, Fla. If the kids have read the books – or if you have read the books with them – you can make the pages come alive in this theme park re-creation of Harry’s world.
Snorkelling with stingrays, Cayman Islands. At Stingray City off Grand Cayman, gigantic rays take pieces of squid right from your hands. These are wild and potentially dangerous animals, though, so if you don’t feel comfortable cavorting with rays – or if you have ethical concerns about this kind of people-animal interaction – there are many places in the Caymans where you can snorkel amid a wide variety of colorful fish.
Canopy zip line, Sacsara Valley, Peru. You and a child (over 6) can strap in together for this amazing ride across a gorge in the Sacsara Valley. The company that runs the zip line also can take you and older kids rafting or kayaking on the Santa Teresa River.
Cross-country skiing, Norway. The Peer Gynt Trail is dotted with ski lodges, so you can ski until you feel like stopping. If you are confident in your skiing experience, you can just rent skis – or bring your own – and hit the trail. But if you think you need a little help, you can book a tour that includes a guide and transferring your luggage from lodge to lodge. You also can hike the trail during the summer months.