LONDON: As baby boomers hit retirement and generation Xers become soccer moms, more and more families will be looking for vacation spots that work for a wider agegroup.
With this in mind, the members and editors of VirtualTourist.com compiled a list of the top multi-generational destinations.
The aim was to find locales that will provide stimulating activities and a multitude of options for children, parents, and grandparents while on vacation. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1. Florence, Italy
In addition to being the center of Renaissance culture and one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Florence provides a compact, easily walkable destination for families of all ages.
What’s nice about Florence is that even if some family members have visited the city before, there are always more things to see, and many of it’s masterpieces are just as thrilling on the second or third visit. Architectural landmarks include the Duomo, topped by Brunelleschi’s dome, and the Bapistry, with its exquisite gold doors. No trip to Florence is complete without a visit to the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria della Accademia, which houses Michaelangelo’s David.
VirtualTourist members suggest getting timed tickets for both of these museums in advance of your trip, otherwise the line can be quite atrocious. Women of all ages will enjoy strolling the Ponte Vecchio, the bridge over the Arno River that is lined with gold jewelry shops, and VT members also noted that the Palazzo Medici and the Chapel of the Magi, though not a usual tour stop, is definitely worth the extra few euros.
For those who’d like to explore other Tuscan towns, Lucca, San Gimignano, and Siena are all picturesque and very different from the bustle of Florence.
2. Washington, D.C.
Washington is an ideal place for a multi-generational gathering. The variety of culture is amazing – from monuments and museums to interesting culinary experiences.
Children will be astounded by the airplanes hanging from the ceilings at the National Air and Space Museum, and adults can marvel at the details of James McNeill Whistler’s opulent Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. No matter their age, all visitors to the National Gallery of Art will be amazed at both the collection of works, and the Concourse walkway, where sculptor Leo Villareal’s light project, Multiverse, glitters and glows. If walking between the monuments is too much, perhaps try the paddle boats at the Tidal Basin; they provide a great view of the Jefferson Memorial.
A great advantage to Washington, D.C. is the amount of free cultural experiences: the Smithsonian Museums and national monuments are free to the public.
If your trip allows for a short jaunt out of town, you can check out Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, located just under three hours south of the Capitol in Williamsburg, Virginia.
3. London, England
London has always been a great spot for family members of all ages. There are high culture activities, like the Tate Modern or the National Portrait Gallery, as well as more hands-on diversions, like the London Eye and the Royal Observatory, where you’ll find the Greenwich Meridian Line.
Thanks to London’s fantastic “tube,” it’s very easy to see multiple areas in one day. Visitors might start at Trafalgar Square, visiting the National Portrait Gallery, Leicester Square, and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, then hop on the tube to Westminster, where Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the House of Lords are all located.
Other venues not to be missed are the British Museum, which houses the Rosetta Stone, and the Tate Modern in the Southbank area.
Another great treat in London is the theater – visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, also along the Southbank, or catch a show in the city’s West End. Like Washington, London is a great place to soak up culture, as entrance to most of the city’s large museums is free, though tickets must be purchased for most special shows and exhibitions.
4. Banff National Park and Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Skip the Alaskan cruise that all your friends are taking and go explore the true wilderness – the kind that isn’t readily available anywhere nearby.
Alberta, Canada is home to some of the most beautiful, pristine and well-preserved natural settings in the world, including Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park and the world’s third national park.
The Xplorer Club, which includes a free interactive booklet, provides interactive activities for children, including a scavenger hike and Banff National Park Bingo, so they should be on the lookout for elk, bears and Woodland Caribou.
The area is unique in that it provides equal amounts of activities no matter the season. In summer, there are great hiking trails, rafting excursions, biking trips, or horseback rides; the winter provides ample snow for both downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and enjoying the hot springs.
Another great aspect of Banff & Lake Louise is that there are so many options, any activity can be modified: for example, the number of hiking trails provide for any difficulty level, length of hike and time, so people of all ages can participate in activities. For those who aren’t up for seriously steep hills, a simple stroll around Lake Louise or Moraine Lake provides some exercise and beautiful scenery.
5. Barcelona, Spain
While many European cities are difficult for an entire family to visit, Barcelona is ideal. While small children can enjoy the amusement park on top of Mt. Tibadabo, they’ll also admire the Modernisme architecture of Gaudi’s Casa Batilo, La Pedrera, and Park Guell.
Kids will likewise enjoy strolling Las Ramblas and watching street performers, with a short break at La Boqueria, Barcelona’s famous market.
The town’s music culture and fantastic shopping will keep teenagers and young adults plenty occupied, as will its fun neighborhoods like El Born and El Raval.
For older family members, the compact Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) is great for exploring on foot, with the Cathedral, the archway on Carrer del Bisbe, and Museu d’Historia de Barcelona all within a few blocks of each other.
VT members have noted the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona is a unique find – underneath the Placa del Rei, there is an archaeological site showcasing what the Roman colony of Barcino was like, giving visitors the opportunity to walk among the ruins beneath the square.
A short train ride takes the family to Sitges, a beautiful beachside community, for a different view of Catalonia.
6. Costa Rica
While arts and architecture might excite some families, visiting the rainforest on an eco-tour might be just the ticket for families with both plant and animal lovers.
Since 25 percent of the nation’s land is protected conservation areas, Costa Rica is an ideal spot for this type of travel. For the more active in the group, there are zip lines and suspended bridges throughout the rainforest canopy, perfect for spotting animals and the country’s unique fauna.
There are numerous ways of exploring the terrain, from hiking and mountain biking, to more unique means of transport like ATVs or horseback.
For those who are looking for a more relaxed travel experience, Costa Rica has beautiful beaches on both its Pacific and Caribbean shores, though travelers interested in surfing and waves might prefer the beaches along the Pacific.