Family Vacations
Published Mar/Apr 2006

Above: For a family’s first-time trip to Europe, a tour package may be the best route for seeing the highlights.

Below: Alaska has enough natural beauty and interesting sights to satisfy everyone in the group.

It may be time to move beyond amusement parks
for your family’s annual getaway.
By AAA National

A discussion of top family vacation spots normally lists those destinations drawing the most visitors, predictably highlighting major theme parks populated by cute, oversized cartoon characters.

Those places certainly have their appeal, but there’s an alternative “top” list that includes destinations offering an engaging mix of fun and enrichment. For parents interested in travel experiences that engage children 10 years and older with the real world, AAA offers these suggestions:


America’s early roots can be traced in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region during visits to Colonial Williamsburg, historical Philadelphia, and Mount Vernon, the former home of George Washington. The first president’s namesake, Washington, D.C., offers an incredible array of national monuments and museums, and Gettysburg National Military Park is a poignant, 3,000-acre memorial to the 158,000 Americans who fought in that pivotal Civil War battle.

The American West conjures images of cowboys, Native Americans, pioneers, and outlaws, and many seminal events in our nation’s history occurred on our western frontiers. The region is also home to some of our most inspiring national treasures, including Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, and the Grand Canyon.

From ancient ruins to medieval castles to 20th century battlefields, Europe offers centuries of history and culture. Visitors to Italy can still experience the grandeur of Rome at the Coliseum, while a visit to the French beaches at Normandy recalls the momentous events of D-Day and World War II. England and Ireland share a special appeal, with historic castles evoking images of centuries gone by.


Our 49th and 50th states, Alaska and Hawaii, respectively, could hardly be more different. However, each offers a variety of scenic wonders and cultural heritage sure to delight children and parents alike.

The Galapagos Islands are an increasingly popular destination (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), with incredibly diverse wildlife that helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Flora and fauna also abound in Costa Rica, where visitors can experience rain forests, dormant volcanoes, tropical rivers, and beautiful seashores.

Finally, Africa offers some of the most compelling wildlife viewing on the planet, where families can share the thrill of seeing lions, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, hippos, and more.

Once the decision of where to go is made, the question of how to go arises. A growing number of families are discovering the wonderful benefits of organized tours. With a tour, all the stress of planning and taking a trip is eliminated. Tours also offer outstanding value, allowing travelers to save up to 40 percent off the price of an identical, self-booked itinerary. And savvy tour operators are often able to provide “insider access” to places that are unknown or unavailable to families traveling on their own.

One of the travel industry’s leading tour operators now offers trips designed specifically for families. Tauck World Discovery has more than a dozen itineraries in its Bridges family travel collection, including trips to each of the destinations highlighted above. Best of all, each Bridges itinerary emphasizes shared enrichment. Rather than segregating the children away in their own “kids’ club” or special section of a cruise ship, Bridges trips let families bond by sharing their travel experiences together.

For more information on Tauck’s Bridges family vacation packages, contact your local AAA Travel office or visit aaa.com/travel.

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