Shares
41
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit

With the holiday season now etched in our rearview mirrors, perhaps you’re already lamenting that the doll or video game Santa brought your little ones is about to take a permanent position on a shelf in their room among other forgotten holiday gifts. Maybe it’s time to think beyond the latest gadget or toy and give your family a trip focused on a unique experience that will create a lifetime’s worth of incredible memories. Whether it’s for their birthday, a special occasion or a 2018 holiday gift, here’s where to go if you want to give the gift of a travel experience they’ll cherish forever.

RELATED: 7 Tuscan farm stays you can book now

Helmet dive in Orlando

Who wouldn’t want to take a walk on the wild side and view the amazing world that thrives undersea? If your kid or even you aren’t ready for snorkeling, helmet diving is ideal. The helmet allows you to breath normally. Your whole crew can try it at Discovery Cove’s Grand Reef, where you’ll put the helmet on, and then climb down a ladder to get to floor. Take the 20-minute walking tour that your adventurous child (10 or older) will never forget. They’ll be talking for days about the colorful fish, stingrays and other sea life that swim right by, or the thrill of peeking at sharks through the huge, panoramic window. In the all-inclusive park, you can also feed stingrays, swim with sharks and interact with dolphins.

Flickr CC: Amy Meredith

Go back in time

Make like it’s yesteryear with a trip through one of America’s oldest cities, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Each year, the Strawberry Banke Museum enthusiastically introduces kids to American history through the eyes of families who lived in the Portsmouth waterfront neighborhood of Puddle Dock. Kids try on historically-accurate clothing, try their hands at hearth-cooking, barrel-making or loom weaving and meet costumed role players who explain what daily life was like at various times over the past 300 years. Explore 32 historic buildings and 8 gardens while meeting traditional craftspeople and costumed role players on the 10-acre site.

Stay on a houseboat in the Netherlands

How cool is this? Forget a run-of-the-mill hotel and instead, take part in an age-old Amsterdam custom by renting a houseboat on Amsterdam’s famous canals. Authentic Houseboats Amsterdam makes it easy, offering 27 rooms with family-friendly kitchenettes complete with refrigerators and stoves. The kids will be happy with the flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi, and you’ll love soaking up the culture and cuisine of the city. Gain a new appreciation for art by visiting the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh and Stedelijk museums.

Hand-feed a red panda

The San Francisco Zoo and IfOnly, an online marketplace for experiential gifts, have teamed up to offer this opportunity to come face to face with a red panda, a rare, endangered species that’s more raccoon and skunk-like than a traditional panda. Meet these adorable critters at their habitat custom-designed by Discovery Channel’s Treehouse Masters for a 20- to 30-minute tour. Watch them in action and hand-feed them bamboo. The tour includes full-day zoo admission, parking pass and one Adopt-an-Animal Red Panda Friend that comes with a certificate of adoption and more. The nearly 100-acre zoo by the Pacific Ocean is home to 2,000 animals, a historic carousel and the “Little Puffer” train.

 

ALSO: Looking for unforgettable rewards? Join Orbitz Rewards today!

Create the next king or queen of comedy

Give the gift of laughter. The Second City Kids Comedy Camps in Chicago give children ages 6-18 a chance to learn improvisation and comedy writing. Even if your child doesn’t become the next big funny gal or guy, the experience is likely to help fuel their creativity, boost self-confidence, loosen them up and become more spontaneous. While the kids are at camp, there’s plenty else in Chicago to keep mom and dad busy, from catching a critically acclaimed theater production or shopping the Magnificent Mile, to exploring Millennium Park and the city’s world class museums—we’re looking at you Art Institute!

Live the salt life in Bolivia

Looking for a good excuse for a South American escape? Plan a visit to the bucket-list worthy (and Instagram golden) Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat nestled in the majestic Andes. Then, kick it up a notch by booking the family in a hotel made totally of salt—even the furniture, if you can believe that. The Hotel Palacio De Sal features a dry sauna, steam room, a saltwater pool and whirlpool baths; take advantage of it all, but just don’t lick the walls—there’s a formal hotel policy against that! Once you’ve gotten all your great photos of the Salt Flats in, be sure to enjoy nearby sites like the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum of the Southern Andes, the Clock Tower, Plaza Arce and the Train Cemetery.

Live with a local tribe in Kenya

Take a four-day African adventure in Kenya with the ME to WE organization, a non-profit offering volunteer trips. Your family will have a chance to live in a village in the Maasai Mara. From fetching water to helping build a village school, you and your family can participate in the everyday life of the the Maasai and Kipsigi people. You’ll learn beading, visit a local market, medical clinic, medicinal garden and more. You’ll likely always remember the sunrise hike with a Maasai guide and the trip to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage. Come night fall, rest in the Bogani Cottages and Tented Camp, dressed in local fabrics and traditional Kenya décor. Don’t worry, you won’t exactly be roughing it: There are beds, a private veranda, hot running water, basins and flush toilets.

Sandboard at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Taking a family vacation to a national park is a time-honored tradition. And while your kids will have to wait until late spring or summer to cash in on this gift, it will be worth the wait. Take the fam to Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, where you can add a thrilling element to your park visit with a day of sandboarding (think snowboarding but on a humongous dune). Just rent boards and start your speedy slide down the sand, and when you’re done be sure to play around in Medano Creek and check out the park’s wildlife.

Explore jungle caves like Indiana Jones

Ka’ana Resort in San Ignacio, Belize is all about adventure. It’s close to archaeological assets like the Aktun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave experience. It was formerly used for Mayan sacrifices, so when you check out the artifacts there, don’t be surprised to see skeletons. Nearby, you can hike the Tikal Maya Ruins and Xunantunich (a former Mayan city). Keep the cultural buzz going with a Mayan cooking or ceramics class, and visit a cacao farm or the Belize Zoo.

Tagged: Africa, California, Chicago, Europe, National Parks, San Francisco

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl is a writer and editor, specializing in travel, personal finance, business and career topics. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Money, DailyFinance.com, Forbes.com, ABCNews.com, Upscale Magazine, Essence, Black Enterprise and others.
Sheryl Nance-Nash

Latest posts by Sheryl Nance-Nash (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *