Grand Vacations – A Destination Guide for Traveling with Grandchildren
By JG Walker. Previously published in the 2015 Summer Issue.
Now that you’re a grandparent, wouldn’t it be a fantastic time to create lasting memories with your grandchildren? Now that you have more time to travel, it’s a great opportunity to share some special moments with your loved ones. In each issue of ideal-LIVING magazine, we’ll provide you with some great destinations to share with your children and grandchildren.
The Biltmore Estate in the North Carolina mountains just outside of Asheville may not be the first vacation-with-the-grandchildren destination that comes to mind, but the Biltmore staff has added a number of great kid-friendly activities in recent years. Best of all, visitors ages 16 and younger are admitted free all summer long, and many local hotels offer complete family packages that are easy on the vacation budget.
The historic Biltmore House features audio tours for adults and kids, while the Biltmore Gardens include the impressive Conservatory greenhouse, a butterfly garden and more than two miles of florid paths to explore. Bikes, horse-drawn carriages and Segways are also available for a wider tour of the grounds, or you can be even moreadventurous with a river float trip or a guided horseback trail ride. There’s also a Fly-Fishing School, with equipment and instruction provided for two-hour, half-day or full-day fishing excursions. And the Land Rover Experience Driving School not only offers off-road lessons and drives for adults, but also has a special Kid’s Course for the youngsters.
Biltmore’s Antler Hill Village is all about family fun, including romps on the Pisgah Playground and hands-on activities at the Farmyard like the petting zoo, daily participation crafts and demonstrations by the estate’s blacksmith, beekeeper and others. Seasonal live music on the Village Green is best enjoyed with a fresh-churned treat from the Creamery. All of the Biltmore restaurants have kid’s menus, and they’ll enjoy complimentary grape juice if they join you on a tour of The Winery.
Go to Biltmore.com for more information about admission prices, on-site and area accommodations, vacation packages and special events.
Once a private playground for the rich and famous, Georgia’s Jekyll Island is a unique vacation destination that offers history, nature and summer fun in equal measure for you and the grandkids.
The 250-acre Historic District is a faithful recreation of the island’s late 19th-century heyday, including the authentic luxury of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, designated as a National Historic Landmark. In addition to shops and museums, the Historic District is home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where your future marine biologists can learn about endangered species preservation. And the 4-H Tidelands Nature Center offers hands-on exhibits, guided kayak tours and expert-led nature walks.
With more than 20 miles of island bike paths, a tennis center and 63 holes of family-friendly golf, plus two miniature golf courses, Jekyll has plenty of outdoor recreations for kids of all ages. Take a trolley or horse-drawn carriage tour of the island and be sure to schedule some time for surf fishing from the beach or enjoying an off-shore charter excursion from one of Jekyll’s two marinas. The Summer Waves water park is a real activity bonus, with several big water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool and thoughtful shade pavilions for sunburn-free supervision.
In addition to the historic hotel and more than 200 full hook-up campsites with Wi-Fi, Jekyll Island accommodations include seaside villas, private beach homes and five oceanfront hotels, including a new Westin that just opened this summer. Whether you stay on the island or in nearby Brunswick, plan a day trip to the waterfront town of St. Marys and a ferry ride to the awesome Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Go to JekyllIsland.com to get more information.
Kennedy Space Center
The world-famous attractions in the Orlando area will always be a popular destination for vacations with the grandchildren, but if you want to put some “wow!” in this summer’s trip, take the short drive over to the Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast.
The Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral are working hubs for space exploration and research, but they’re also welcoming vacation destinations with a mission to educate and entertain the wide-eyed kid in all of us. You and the grands can explore the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit and then enjoy the hands-on excitement of 60+ simulators and activities with the Shuttle Launch Experience program. There’s more interactive fun at the Exploration Space site, and the Rocket Garden offers a unique outdoor stroll amidst real and replica space vehicles. There’s also an IMAX theater, a space-exploration history museum and an astronaut hall of fame, as well as daily opportunities to meet and even have lunch with real NASA astronauts to learn about their past and future adventures.
Want them to get a real feel for space travel? The grands can test their space legs at the half-day Astronaut Training Experience or go all-out with the five-day Camp KSC for students entering grades two through 11. Best of all, if you time your visit just right, you may get a chance to witness an actual rocket launch, a powerful memory that you and the grandkids will be talking about for years to come.
More than a dozen area hotels, some located on the Space Coast oceanfront, have partnered with the Kennedy Space Center to offer family-friendly accommodations and vacation packages. For launch schedules and to sign up for e-mail updates about other future events, go to KennedySpaceCenter.com.
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