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Ideal Family Vacations: The Ultimate Guide to Beloved Childhood Destinations

My Own Ideal Family Vacations: Lake George, NY

ideal family vacation at Lake George NY aboard the Minnie Ha Ha steam boat
Photo from the 1980s

At the age of 9, my family began vacationing for a week each summer at Lake George. The first few years we spent these ideal family vacations in Capri Village. We joined the families of my dad’s high school friends. Of course we visited tourist attractions like Story Town, (Later known at the Great Escape) and Santa’s Enchanted Forest. My dad still insists to this day that we met the real Santa Claus that day after hearing him speak several foreign languages.

At night, we would drive into the village and see the sights. We always bought salt water taffy and caramel corn. One year I bought one of those invisible dogs with the harness hooked up to a stiff wire. Another year my sister and I picked out monkey puppets that you could maneuver to look real. We spent countless hours playing mini golf and Skee ball at the arcade. Then we used our tickets to get junky prizes. The Frankenstein that wandered out front of the Wax Museum always terrified my little sister.

Later, one of my dad’s friends bought a home in Haigue, NY towards the northern end of the lake. Uncle Marty had 4 daughters a few years older than me. So I gained tons of freedom when I was with them. As teens we would wander down the mountain to hang out at the gas station game room. We spent evenings hanging out with local teens playing Pacman, Space Invaders, and air hockey. The town was so small it only had a general store, a post office, and one or two other shops mainly for fishing supplies now that I think of it.

Childhood Nostalgia

We all have ideal family vacations from childhood that we reminisce about from time to time. Often I become nostalgic about Lake George in upstate New York. Therefore I decided to ask other writers what their ideal family vacations were as children.

Ideal Family Vacation: Monkey Mia, Australia

Rochelle Harrison from Love Family Life Travel writes of her ideal family vacations in Australia as a child.

ideal family vacations at Monkey Mia shows dolphins coming up to be fed
Photo courtesy of Rochelle Harrison

My childhood vacations are the bedrock of my happy childhood. Those trips are some of the best memories of my life. My favorite childhood vacation was in Monkey Mia, a small beach on the north west coast of Australia, on the Shark Bay peninsula. Shark Bay is listed as a world heritage site.

Changes Over Time

Nowadays Monkey Mia has a resort on the beach run and managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife. But when I was a kid, it was remote with just a dirt track leading down to the beach. The dolphins that live at Monkey Mia have been coming into the beach to interact with the people for over 40 years. Today, the DPAW Rangers manage how many fish a select few people are allowed to feed to the dolphins.

When I was a kid, there was a guy who walked up and down the beach with a tin bucket who would sell you fish to feed the dolphins. My parents bought my brother and I a fish each. A pelican promptly flew over to us and ate my brother’s fish, its huge beak appeared to swallow his whole arm. At four years old he started crying, he was so upset. I walked into the water with my fish and a couple of my cousins. The pod of dolphins surrounded us, and we fed them our fish. Then one of the dolphins playfully bit my cousin on the bum. We laughed so hard as she yelped and jumped.


Today, Shark Bay is still my favorite place in the whole of Australia. While I believe it is a good thing that the area is now managed and regulated for the benefit of the dolphins, a part of me is grateful that we were there when it wasn’t. It was such a magical experience to be surrounded by dolphins and interacting with them so closely.

Ideal Family Vacations: The Island of Corsica

Christian Petzold, the managing editor at  Avid Voyagers, creates new ideal family vacations by returning to a favorite childhood spot.

View of Corsica a site for ideal family vacations
Corsica

The island of Corsica is located in the Mediterranean Sea and is politically one of the 18 regions of France. Its regional capital is Ajaccio. Most of Corsica is mountainous. A northwest-to-southeast crystalline massif splits the island in half. 

My husband and I visited this beautiful place with our kids. The truth is, anybody can love and enjoy Corsica regardless of one’s age.

Corsica is my favorite childhood destination, so I was eager to show my kids the reason why by taking them here with us. 

We had an awesome stay at Hotel Villa l’Oriu in Calvi, Corsica. We chose this villa because it was beautifully situated in Calvi, with wonderful grounds and a nice pool area that is ideal for families (our main reason for choosing this hotel – family-friendly). 

What to do There

We got a chance to visit the La Maison Bonaparte Museum and there we discovered about Napoleon, born and devoted to his childhood in Ajaccio. The museum holds countless portraits and medals, furniture, and artifacts of the famous ruler, creating an exciting journey through history. 

People say that Corsica has some of the cleanest beaches in France, not to mention some of the most beautiful shorelines. Our kids loved running on the warm white sand and swimming in azure water on the beach. 

We planned this vacation and visited this island in the month of May. May is a great time to visit based on our research, because the weather is not too hot, the places are not as crowded, and tourists can spend more time mesmerized by the beautiful places during day time. I have to say: it’s all true! 

Parc Naturel Régional de Corse, kids have a great experience here. This is a natural park that protects endangered species. A number of endangered species, including two hoofed mammals and the Corsican red deer, happen to live within the Park. Additionally, Parc Naturel Régional de Corse offers views of the highest mountains on the island, so it’s well worth a visit. 

Fun For Adults Too

Our perfect day will not be complete without going to a vineyard. We picked Domaine Orsini, close to Calenzana which is regarded as among the best. And it doesn’t let us down! Nielluccio is the local grape variety that’s often referred to as Tuscany’s Sangiovese’s cousin. They make white wine from this grape, as well as Sciacarello, a unique red grape to the island.

Old towns situated in mountain passes; unspoilt beaches with mountain backdrops; picturesque ruins of medieval castles decorated with wildflowers and palm trees. That’s why they call it “the Isle of Beauty”, the entire island is a picture-perfect exemplar of natural beauty. No wonder everyone loves it, right? 

Ideal Family Vacations: Borkum in Northern Germany.

Ilona Bicker from Top Travel Sights recounts details of her ideal family vacations as a child.

beach tent on Borkum, part of an ideal family vacation in Germany
“Beach tent on Borkum” photo courtesy of Stefan Liening through Pixbay

When I was a child, I spent many of my summers on the island of Borkum, in the German North Sea. My parents took my brother and me there every year, and I always loved coming back.

While we didn’t always have perfect summer weather on Borkum, we found many things to do. On sunny days, we would build sandcastles and chase crabs on the beach.

My parents always rented a beach tent. These colourful tents, which also come in a variety that resembles a giant wicker chair, are famous all along the German North Sea Coast. My brother and I would build a wall around the tent to “mark our territory”, though, by the end of three weeks, we’d usually have trampled it so much that it was barely recognisable anymore.

On rainy days, we’d splash around in an indoor saltwater pool or try drinking salt water mixed with orange juice. Supposedly, it has healing properties, and many people travel to Borkum for its climate and spas.

Sometimes, we’d walk out to the sandbanks. Here, we’d observe the seals that live just off the island, but we’d always have to be careful to go back in time. When the tide comes in, the sandbanks get cut off from the beach and eventually disappear.

One of the highlights was taking a boat tour to fish for shrimps. The fishermen always hauled in a few kilograms of tiny shrimp, which they would then cook onboard. Finally, we’d all assemble around a table to peel and eat the seafood while it was still hot.

A UNESCO Site

Borkum is part of the UNESCO site “Wadden Sea”, and we never went to Borkum without going for a walk in the mudflats. With a guide who knows the area well enough, it’s possible to explore areas that get flooded with the high tide.

As children, my brother and I would sink in up to the knees, and we’d always get excited about the black mud covering our legs. The guides usually found lots of animals living in these flats, from mussels to birds and worms.

The mixture of beach, exploring and seeing animals in the wild made for perfect childhood holidays that I still fondly remember today.

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Ideal Family Vacations: Galtur, Austria

Where Tristin Sassenberg from Traxplorio went on his ideal family vacations.

Austrian Alps
photo courtesy of Tristan Sassenberg

Today I am very happy to share one of my favorite childhood memories with you! The best part is, this trip is even nowadays mostly hassle-free possible and mostly corona-proof. So let’s get right to it.

We used to drive to Austria very often – to Galtür to be precise. Galtür is a beautiful mountain village in Tirol, in the west of Austria. This idyllic village is surrounded by impressive mountain landscapes and beautiful hiking trails. Not uninteresting for all adults – the world famous ski resort (and party paradise) Ischgl is right next door. My parents traveled here with me especially because of the wonderful air quality and the proximity to nature. Galtür was even the first air health resort in Tirol! Especially recommended for allergy sufferers.

Where did we Stay?

The family-run Hotel Zontaja was our first choice. The owners are particularly warm and I was able to romp around a bit and do some silly things as a little boy 🙂

What is my favorite memory?

I just loved the hikes to the many alpine huts. The Menta Alm, for example, also has its own playground. But the highlight was always the local animals. I can still remember when I played with 8 little puppies in a barn. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I love dogs so much today 🙂

In addition, there are also hikes to beautiful mountain lakes where you could swim in an adventure pool with many great waterslides!

We traveled to this place one more time 2 years ago and I fell in love all over again. Nearby is also the Silvretta Mountains and the Silvretta High Alpine Road, where you have an incredible view of the breathtaking mountain panorama. This time I prepared myself for hiking and explored the beautiful surroundings – by the way, I also drank a delicious beer at the Menta Alm like my father used to.

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Ideal Family Vacations: Road Trip Western USA

Karee Blunt from Our Woven Journeys tells of her ideal family vacations travelling through many U.S. states.

Picture courtesy of Canva

I have such wonderful memories of time spent on vacation with my family when I was a child. Growing up in Texas, most of our trips centered around tent camping in either Arkansas or Colorado. However, when I was a teenager my parents took my two brothers and I on a three week vacation that was chock full of history, national landmarks and many great memories!

Colorado

We started our journey in Dallas and headed northwest toward Colorado Springs. Two things in particular stand out in my memory: the hair pin curves winding our way up and back down the road on Pikes Peak Mountain and riding the Alpine Slide. That’s a 3000 foot ride down the mountain on a bobsled and is definitely something to be remembered!

We spent some time walking through the Garden of the Gods while we were in the area. What a fascinating place! We also had a chuckwagon style dinner at the famous Flying W Ranch in Colorado and oh my goodness, that place made such an impression on me. The after dinner concert was so much fun!

Wyoming

From there, we headed north to Wyoming and spent time exploring Yellowstone National Park. That was the first time I saw Old Faithful. We stayed in a cabin right by a beautiful lake with a gorgeous view of the Grand Teton Mountains. I know somewhere in our family photos, there’s also a picture of me standing in front of one of the Antler Arches in Jackson Hole. 

Montana

We continued on toward Montana, seeing all kinds of wildlife and staying in some of the coolest mountain lodges along the way. It’s funny how some of the seemingly smallest details can stand out, isn’t it? I remember how big the wooden rocking chair was on the front porch of a restaurant we had breakfast at. They served the biggest blueberry pancakes I’d ever seen!

South Dakota

In South Dakota, we visited Mount Rushmore. As I’ve studied American history over the years, I’m so glad we went there and I was able to see it myself. I went again later with my husband and it was just as amazing to see the second time around. 

We also visited the Crazy Horse monument. (Who could have known that all these years later it still wouldn’t be finished?) We journeyed on through the Black Hills National Park toward the Badlands. If you’ve never been there, I’m not sure there’s any good way to describe it! 

As we headed south back toward home, we drove through Nebraska and Kansas, past miles and miles of corn fields. Even with as much as I’ve traveled since then, when I think of the “heart of America,” my mind pictures those fields. 

With three weeks to spend on vacation, my parents could have taken us just about anywhere in the US. I’m so grateful for the itinerary those chose and for the lifetime of memories it created!


Thank you to the wonderful writers who have contributed to this post. I hope these stories of ideal family vacations will inspire readers to create their own unforgettable family memories.

3 thoughts on “Ideal Family Vacations: The Ultimate Guide to Beloved Childhood Destinations

  1. What a great look back at people’s favourite family vacations. As a kid, we did little vacation travel. But when our kids were young, we sure made up for that. They will have a long list of favourite family vacation ideas. I love the range of family vacations shown here – from outdoor adventures to history trips.

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