Here are some of the most exciting holiday activities that you can do together on a family vacation — whether you travelling with tots, teenagers, or elderly parents. Magic, adventure, nature and thrills—there’s something for everyone.
20 ideas for a wholesome family vacation:
1. Hit the slopes at Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, Austria
Seasoned skiers believe that it’s never too early to start skiing with children! Obergurgl is a small ski resort in Tyrol, Austria that is known as the ‘Diamond of the Alps’. There’s a choice of hotels that are four-star and above, and the best part is that snow is guaranteed and many of the hotels offer kids activities and are close to the ski school and lifts. Obergurgl-Hochgurgl is especially well suited for family vacations as it offers children-specific activities, fun slopes, and a family park, which means that children can be safer and have space to practise away from the crowds. There are some children-specific lifts as well, so the older kids can manage to get around by themselves. All through ski season, there is a weekly ski show, night skiing and tobogganing. You can up the luxe quotient with a scenic helicopter ride or a champagne gondola lunch.
2. Ride a century-old wooden cable car in Pittsburgh, USA
We all seem to be racing against time towards a future that is changing at lightning speed. Needless to say, the current generation of children is the fastest ever. That is why this historical tour is even more special as it offers a ride in a century—old cable car where you can soak in the best views of downtown Pittsburgh including the three rivers of this city. Opened on May 20, 1877, this cable car has been restored to its original splendour and elegance. The venue also has a museum of Pittsburgh history, with old newspapers indicating the existence of such a conveyance as early as 1854. It may sound rather mundane, but it leaves children wide-eyed, marvelling at the technology that was available even a century back.
3. Learn surfing at Bondi Beach, Australia
If surfing is on your bucket list, there’s no better place than Bondi Beach to learn it from the pros. Going with the flow gets a whole new meaning as you learn to navigate the waves, add to that some speed and the experience is exhilarating and addictive. From simply catching a wave to learning how to stand up, paddle, and duck-dive, you can learn it all. But first things first, choose the right board and the right beach. Bondi Beach is the only beach in Australia that is open through the year and is ideal for beginners as well as seasoned surfers wanting to hone their skills further. Laidback cafes and casual pubs make for the perfect hangouts after a strenuous day in the water.
4. Go whale watching in Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is one of the best locations in the world for whale watching, an activity that can be enjoyed on a multigenerational family vacation. Thousands of whales migrate through the nearby waters and several pods of orcas live here year-round. During the peak season—April through October—there’s a huge chance of spotting whales, including both migrating and resident orcas, humpback, minke, and grey whales. With an increase in humpback whales along the Pacific Northwest coast, it is now possible to see them almost all through the year. A whale-watching tour is usually for three hours and also offers children a great opportunity to learn about these marine creatures in a fun and interactive way. You may take your pick from a sightseeing boat or a sea kayak or a Zodiac boat that gets you much closer to the water, making the entire experience more thrilling.
5. Set sail with MSC Cruises
A luxury cruise packs in all the fun and excitement of hopping from one destination to the other besides all the on-board activities, musical shows, glamour and gastronomic extravaganza. MSC Cruises puts the icing on the cake by allowing kids aged 18 and under to sail for free as long as they stay in the same cabin as a parent. With a choice of 24 itineraries and five different ships, including two brand-new flagships, MSC also offers transatlantic cruises for the 2023-2024 season with the chance to explore more than 80 ports across more than 50 countries on four continents. The cruise line even offers an ‘all-in-one’ pricing option for single parents or guardians travelling with up to three kids.
6. Explore the Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis The Royal, Dubai
The swankiest hotel opening of 2023 has been Atlantis The Royal in Dubai. And the underwater kingdom at this luxe resort is quite exciting for a family vacation. The Lost Chambers Aquarium is home to 65,000 marine animals. You and your little ones can embark on an under-the-sea adventure and discover hundreds of incredible marine species. The Ambassador Lagoon is ideal for snorkelling and there are various diving options too. Certified divers can experience the single tank dive amidst the underwater ruins while the Predator Dive is the scariest one that includes feeding fourteen gigantic sharks that thrive deep down at the Ambassador Lagoon. This is also a fabulous venue for hosting haunted underwater parties!
7. Embark on a safari in Tanzania, Africa
Get up close and personal with the wildlife as well as local tribes in Tanzania. A nine-day wildlife and cultural safari is an immersive experience that is guaranteed to be memorable for a family vacation. Adventures in Africa offer bespoke experiences where you may customise your safari with accommodations to fit your style and budget. The highlights include exploring the natural African bushland, walking safari with a local ranger, enjoying stunning views of the Ngorongoro highlands, learning bush skills from Masai warriors like how to make a fire, use a bow and arrow, and throw a spear. There’ll also be plenty of time to go mountain biking or swimming and canoeing. This is a great way for families with children to experience great game viewing, visit local tribes to learn about their culture, and have lots of fun.
8. Take a road trip from Udaipur to Jawai, Rajasthan
The road from the City of Lakes to Jawai is smooth and scenic and promises a thrilling adventure on the other side. Jawai is an emerging destination with the highest density of leopards in India, and in recent years it has become very popular for leopard safaris. But safaris in Jawai are unlike anywhere else in India. To begin with, there is no jungle! There are about 60 leopards living in the granite caves surrounding villages like Bera, Bijapur, and Sirohi. To spot the leopards, one has to drive over granite boulders, albeit at a safe distance from the spotted cats. During your family vacation, if you choose to stay at any of the handful camps or hotels in this area, it is commonplace to see a leopard or two right outside the hotel. This destination offers a unique glimpse into how animals can live in harmony with man and vice-versa.
9. Learn pasta making in Southern Tuscany, Italy
It is one thing to eat pasta when you’re in Italy, but an entirely different level of indulgence to learn how to make pasta from scratch over four luxurious days in Tuscany. Besides master classes for pasta, your customisable family vacation itinerary will include visits and tastings at an olive farm, a local producer of buffalo mozzarella, and a vineyard, perfect if you are travelling with elderly parents. Using fresh produce and learning green practices is part of the package as sustainability is at the core of this programme. Available from June to September, accommodation for this gastronomic holiday is in beautiful apartments by a pool, and near olive groves and vineyards.
10. Enjoy a picnic in Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir
With lush rolling meadows, gurgling streams, and verdant valleys surrounded by snow-covered mountains, Pahalgam in Kashmir is picture perfect for a family vacation. Picnics in Pahalgam are legendary and have often been picturised in the most romantic movies across ages. Welcomhotel Pine and Peak is the most luxurious hotel in Pahalgam. Right from the exquisite walnut wood carvings, rich Kashmiri carpets to the warm service, it epitomises everything Kashmiri. They also organise the most memorable picnics for families, especially by the Lidder River. Since the river abounds in fresh trout, you can indulge in fishing and their team will be happy to cook your catch of the day, in any way that you like. So, catch your fish and eat it too!
11. Celebrate 100 years of Disney at Anaheim and Orlando, USA
The ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ is promising a whole lot of fun and frolic all through the year—the Walt Disney Company is celebrating 100 years in 2023. The biggest event ever in Disney history, Disney 100 Years of Wonder has already kickstarted at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California and the party is spreading to Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando and other international Disney Parks. There’s special decor, character outfits, food, drink, and merchandise to mark the celebrations. The most exciting though is the brand-new nighttime entertainment, including new fireworks show and a new version of World of Color. Across Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, you’ll find platinum statues and medallions that make great photo opportunities for this celebratory year. The grand celebration will last all through 2023 and is likely to continue through the first half of 2024.
12. Hike in the majestic Redwood Forests, California
The woods are enchanting, and the majestic, gigantic redwood trees in California make for a perfect playground for an outdoorsy family. Redwoods grow along a wide and long stretch of Northern California’s coast, from the Oregon border to the Big Sur, south of San Francisco. With 27 trails in Redwood National Park, it is ideal for hiking, camping, cycling and even holidaying in an RV with an entire family. Redwood National Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park also offer comfortable facilities for backpacking as well as drive-in camping. A popular getaway in the summer, the shaded trails are cool, wide, smooth, and easy to walk. An additional benefit of forest bathing makes it an equally thrilling and therapeutic holiday.
13. Feed Roos and cuddle Koalas in Kangaroo Island, Australia
Despite its name, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park in Parndana, South Australia, offers much more than kangaroos. Koalas, meerkats, wallabies, penguins, pelicans, reptiles—there are 600 exotic animals that are native to Australia. A short ferry or a 30-minute flight from Adelaide gets you to this natural wonderland. Especially suited for younger, animal-loving kids, there are plenty of activities with fascinating animals to choose from. Cuddle the koalas, get up close to dingoes and penguins, or get to know kangaroos—grey kangaroos, albino kangaroos, red kangaroos, and so many more. The park also has dozens of colourful birds ranging from local parrots to large emus, little penguins, and vibrant rainbow lorikeets. If this is not enough for an enjoyable family time, the laughing kookaburras will be sure to leave you and your folks in splits!
14. Experience Van Gogh’s Art at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore
This one’s for art lovers, and also a great way to introduce children to one of the greatest artists—Van Gogh. This unique multi-sensory Immersive Experience has come to Southeast Asia for the first time ever and is super fun and captivating with classic art meeting technology. While on your family vacation, you can surround yourself with over 300 artworks by world-renowned artist, with 60 projectors bringing them to life. The projections animate the floor and the walls around making it a 360° immersive experience. If you’re inspired, you may even try your hand at creating your own masterpiece. It is imperative to book your tickets in advance as tickets sell out for weeks ahead. The exhibition is on till October 1, 2023, at Resorts World Sentosa.
15. Be part of a Musical Adventure in Chail, Himachal Pradesh
The magic of camping comes alive when an evening campfire is accompanied by singing and strumming the guitar. Inme-Youreka is the pioneering company to introduce adventure-based summer camps to thousands of children across India. They have now introduced a musical adventure in the woods, combining adventure activities such as rappelling, ropes course, archery, and rifle shooting in the day and live performances by musicians in the evening. The third edition of LETS Unplug – Pine Forest Acoustic is scheduled for the Easter weekend in the pristine wilderness of Chail. Singer-songwriter Kamakshi Khanna will belt out heartwarming melodies and contemporary Indian folk and classical duo Maati Baani will get the groove going. These camps are limited to 75 guests, and there are six more events spread across the year with other musicians at exotic wilderness venues.
16. Night snorkelling in the Maldives
If you find the Maldives beautiful in the day, wait till you see the magic after dark. Night snorkelling is an enthralling experience and is especially recommended for families with older children. While it is not safe to venture into the ocean after sunset on your own, many resorts like COMO Cocoa Island and Hilton Amingiri Resort and Spa offer guided night snorkelling trips with in-house experts. Special UV torches and mask lenses will reveal the stunning hues of fluorescent greens, yellows, reds, and oranges emitted at night by various coral species such as tube coral and brain coral. Absolutely magical, this experience opens up the underwater world in all its glory like you could not even have imagined. If you’re lucky, you may even enjoy the rare experience of spotting nocturnal sea creatures on their night food hunt.
17. Go white water rafting in the Rhine Gorge, Switzerland
There’s more to Switzerland than hiking and skiing. The UNESCO World Heritage Rhine Gorge is locally known as the Swiss Grand Canyon. The Rhine River has Class III-IV rapids thus white water rafting here is ideal for beginners. The 20-kilometre ride amidst steep limestone walls and high rock towers will take you through wild rapids and calmer river runs. This half-day adventure activity usually ends with a small aperitif, or you can opt for a BBQ by the side of the river after the wild rapids and before continuing with the more relaxed second half of the tour. This family adventure sport is available from May to October and the minimum age requirement is 12 years.
18. Join a volunteering trip in South Africa
Get into the wild but with some responsibility. Embark on a family volunteer vacation with baboons in South Africa. You will get the important job of undertaking conservation work at a highly-renowned monkey rehabilitation centre, nursing and preparing baby monkeys and making them fit for eventual release back into the wild. Besides working hands-on with primates, younger kids will enjoy feeding other animals at the centre including rabbits, guinea pigs, and chickens. The older lot, and those who love reptiles may even take up feeding snakes and lizards! While volunteering in itself is a fulfilling opportunity, there’s also fun involved via safaris in the Kruger National Park, sundowners at the Picnic Spot, and river trips for wildlife spotting.
19. Play Box Cricket at Alma Resort, Vietnam
Located on the east coast of Vietnam between the cities of Nha Trang and Kamran, Alma Resort is perfectly poised to become the best family resort in the country. With 12 swimming pools that cascade down to the pristine beach, an active kids club offering a plethora of activities for all age groups, extraordinary dining options, and almost 17 kilometres of soft golden sands with panoramic ocean views from all luxury suites and pavilions, it is indeed ideal for a beach holiday. Now here’s the clincher for cricket-loving Indians—the resort offers a facility to play Box Cricket. Rules are simple: all six players playing the game must be from the roster of six provided at the time of registration, and the game can be played even when you’re in a small group.
20. Go on a beer tour with Older Teens in Munich, Germany
Families with older teens understand the thrill of being eligible to drink beer at a pub! Since Germany has determined 16 years as the minimum age for purchasing beverages containing less than 1.2 per cent of distilled alcohol, it makes it possible to take them on a beer-tasting tour at some of the iconic breweries. Munich is particularly famous for its beer gardens and breweries such as Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten. Signing up for a brewery walk can thus be a fun family activity where you get to experience different breweries and sample some of their signature beers while on vacation. You can even indulge in some Bavarian food during the walk, besides learning the history of beer making and how it is intertwined with the cultural fabric of the city.