Are amusement resorts or nature sights better for vacationing with children?
|Are amusement resorts or nature sights better for vacationing with children?
Opinion article posted on Helium.com
Nature sights provide a great way to bond with your family. For me, nothing can compare with arriving at the ocean. My family and I would fling open the car doors, take a deep breath of salty air and race to the edge of the waves, tearing off shoes as we went, so as to be ready to run right into the water. I always wanted to dive in and swim off into the sunset, like a seal. In Ireland, they call them the Selkies: a man on land and a seal in the sea.
As you can see, I am biased toward nature vacations, because I have always enjoyed them myself. I'm not exclusive; mountains are great too, and I have recently learned to love the Sonoran Desert. But with kids? It depends.
Take a moment to consider your family. Are your kids under the age of ten? If so, you can probably take them into the natural world for a vacation and enjoy it without too much preparation. However, front-loading always helps. If you and your family are used to exploring the out-of-doors, noticing birds and bugs and plants, and looking at stars, then they and you already are primed for a fantastic time in any natural setting.
If, in contrast, your kids are couch potatoes and addicted to video games, or worse, if they're teenagers, then a strategic plan is indicated. Start with baby steps and put up a bird feeder. Get a bird book and look up interesting facts about your visitors. Spend an afternoon looking for bugs in the backyard. Go to a park, and notice different kinds of flowers together. The younger the children are when you start this, the better! Every kid likes to look at bugs. Your job is to keep it up as they grow, incorporating new places, new terrain, and new organisms to observe. Move on to day trips to the zoo, or a short hike in the woods. Don't forget to encourage individual interests, such as photography or sketching, or music. Maybe your family will discover a special interest, around which trips can be geared.
Do a little research around your area. What natural sights are close by? Get familiar with the local spots, and find out what lives and grows there, or how the area developed. Backyard geology can be a fascinating subject.
See? Now we're planning a vacation. Do your kids like rocks? Take them to one of the great caves of the Southwest, such as Carlsbad Caverns. Do they like to fish? Get a cabin near a good angling spot. And of course, my favorite, go to the beach and look for seashells. Maybe, if you're especially observant, you'll spot a Selkie. If you do, let me know--I'll be on my way to meet you!