I guess you could call it travel guilt. It kicked in big time last year, when a number of friends were planning trips to Yosemite National Park. At some point, someone asked me what my kids liked to do in Yosemite.
I started to talk about the Mist Trail then realized, though I love Yosemite, I’ve never taken my kids. We live in Northern California. Yosemite is practically our backyard. I got out the calendar and picked a weekend. It was still winter, I had months before I needed to get organized … or so I thought.
Late April and May is Narcissus season around Lake Geneva (Lac Leman) in Switzerland. The Paper White varietal cover the fields in the mountains above the lake — they smell and look amazing. The best way to view these flowers is to go on a hike so you can get into the thick of them. I have a few favorites kid-friendly hikes around Lake Geneva that provide wonderful views of Narcissus blooms.
New Hampshire’s White Mountain range provides a natural escape from summer’s heavy heat. With the cooler nights and an abundance of outdoor family-friendly activities, it is the perfect backdrop for an active family vacation. Within the area, Bretton Woods, is known for its creative use of the mountain landscape to provide all-season entertainment for every age. Once you are used to the somewhat remote area, there’s no need to venture out as you are in one of the prettiest and fun-filled family destinations in the Northeast.
The summer alpine wildflower season is in full swing. We visited Verbier in Switzerland with Mother of All Trips and her kids last week are were greeted with a sea of flowers.
All-family hiking is one of our favorite summer activities in the mountains. Kids of all ages can hike — it’s all about choosing age-appropriate terrain and engaging kids in the experience along the way. Keeping hikes short helps too. Be sure and read our article on tips for hikes with kids for more advice on optimizing the fun factor for all.
I have yet to meet an expat in Switzerland who is familiar with Adelboden at first mention, although I know the resort is popular with Swiss ski fans as it hosts the FIS Ski World Cup in January (2012 dates are January 7-8).
Adelboden is in the Bernese Oberland, a mountainous area packed with natural beauty. I’ve covered Mürren and Grindelwald on the blog; Adelboden is in the valley before the Lauterbrunnen/Mürren/Grindelwald exit as you head down the motorway towards Interlaken.
Our last stop on my recent Jungfrau Region tour in Switzerland was Grindelwald, home to a huge range of summer and fall activities (not to mention world-class skiing).
Unfortunately, mother nature was not our friend for our overnight in here — it absolutely poured almost every minute we were there. The highlight of this area is the epic mountain views, and we saw none of them.
The reality of mountain vacations …
We are avid hikers and took our son on his first trail when he was just a few months old. Now that we live in Switzerland — the land of epic hiking — spending time exploring new terrain is a regular all-family activity.
I get a constant stream of family travel tips from various writers in my inbox every day. I have to admit that many of them are simply too basic to publish or seem written by people who don’t actually have children.
There is no doubt that ski resorts are designed for winter fun. But when the snow melts and the spring flowers appear, there’s a magical transition from winter wonderlands to summer playgrounds.
Ski trails turn into hiking and biking trails. Meadows become ideal settings for summer fairs and festivals. Ice-skating rinks become fishing ponds and ski programs become summer camps. Best of all, lodging usually is discounted with great off-season rates.
Hiking is a wonderful all-family activity. When kids are very young and can fit in a backpack, any hike is fair game as long as you pack food and don’t overestimate your endurance to carry the extra pounds. When kids start walking, selecting kid-friendly hikes is essential, although it’s amazing how far motivated school-age kids can go.
I’ll never forget the Dutch family we ran into in Banff National Park a few years ago with 5-year-old twin boys who were hiking the same 6-mile-loop we were with some serious vertical.
I have a confession to make: I have been engaged in a love affair for over a decade. It was truly love at first sight, and now I can’t ever seem to get enough. The object of my affection? Our country’s National Park system. I have yet to find a park that I didn’t absolutely adore.
As a matter of fact, I have made it a personal goal to visit every single National Park (yep, all 58 of them) with my children. Last summer, I took my kids to the original National Park, Yellowstone.