Are you looking for an exciting and memorable way to get back into travel? Why not plan an active family adventure? Families that sweat together stay together, right?
Whether you’re after natural thrills, learning experiences, or quality family time, the best trips pack in plenty of fun and unusual activities. After all, a vacation is the perfect time to try something new.
In the process, these kid-approved ideas allow you to create plenty of unforgettable family memories. From France to Japan, Mexico to Patagonia, check out these fantastic activity options for an active family adventure.
1. Cycling in France
Did you know a German invented the first functioning two-wheeler in 1817? Even though the French didn’t create it, that hasn’t stopped them from embracing cycling as a national sport. Not only did the French market the first two-wheelers, but they even gave the contraption its name of “bicycle.” The Tour de France started in 1903, a five-stage round-trip race passing through Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Nantes.
Bicycle tours are among the best ways to explore the French countryside at a leisurely pace. Imagine venturing out on your own mini-Tour de France (no racing required!), past the manicured gardens and fairytale castles of the Loire Valley. Or head to Provence where you’ll tour the countryside enveloped in lavender and sunflower blooms. In Burgundy and Chablis, travel the Route des Grands Crus, visiting iconic towns like Chassagne-Montrachet along the way.
2. Sumo Wrestler Training in Japan
The national sport of Japan, sumo wrestling boasts a rich and storied past. In ancient times, athletes performed to entertain Shinto deities, and many of the religious traditions surrounding these events continue. For example, the ring is still symbolically purified with salt, and only men practice the sport professionally.
On a custom trip to Japan, take a peek behind the scenes of Japan’s most beloved sport by spending a morning at an authentic sumo stable. The stable is the building where wrestlers live, train, eat, and sleep. You’ll get the inside scoop on daily life as one of these professional athletes as you watch them go through their daily rituals and activities. You’ll also have the chance to watch higher-ranked wrestlers prepare for their next matches and get your own lesson.
3. Paddle Boarding on Piuray Lagoon in Peru
Everyone associates surfing with Polynesia, but recent archaeological evidence from Peru shows otherwise. Peru’s five-time surfing champion Robert Meza and a team of researchers have dedicated more than 20 years to researching his nation’s 5,000-year-old surfing tradition. Their hypothesis claims that Peruvians introduced the marine pastime to the inhabitants of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). From there, the sport diffused across the Pacific to Polynesia.
You and your family can ponder this fascinating history while engaging in a paddle boarding experience in Peru. Lake Piuray provides the perfect location to learn, against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. The lake’s calm waters mirror the mountains and periwinkle sky, providing the ideal location to hone your skills. Spend a few hours on the water, leisurely floating, taking photos, and learning essential board and paddle techniques.
4. Zip Lining in Costa Rica
Few destinations prove more family-friendly and filled with adventure than Costa Rica. You’ll be amazed by this little nation’s lush rainforests, picturesque waterfalls, and gorgeous beaches. Whether you’re hiking through cloud forests and national parks or soaking in hot springs, you and your family will find plenty of great ways to enjoy local landscapes and culture.
What’s one of our favorite ways to appreciate Costa Rica’s rich and varied landscapes? A zip line adventure at Arenal National Park. Enjoy a breathtaking 20-minute gondola ride on the Sky Tram to an observation platform, offering expansive views of Arenal Volcano, Arenal Lake, and the park’s verdant mountain ranges. From there, you’ll coast 600 feet above the canopy on the 3,280-foot-long Sky Trek zip line system.
5. Diving with Whale Sharks in Mexico
After seeing the abundance of marine wildlife found in the Sea of Cortez off the shores of Baja, Mexico, famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau declared it “the world’s aquarium.” Your family will be captivated by the vibrant ecosystems thriving in these Pacific waters, from brown pelicans to California sea lions, orcas, dolphins, and gray whales. The Sea of Cortez also offers refuge to more than 900 species of fish and five of the seven endangered species of sea turtles globally.
The 60,000-square-mile gulf contains a temperate zone north of La Paz and a warm-water “Panamic” zone southward to Cabo San Lucas. The mixing of these two ecosystems attracts some of the world’s largest sea life to the area, including humpback whales, right whales, and grey whales, and whale sharks. Massive whale sharks travel vast distances to the area, making seasonal appearances. The Sea of Cortez provides the perfect opportunity to swim with these gentle giants while learning more about local ecology and conservation efforts.
6. Hiking in Patagonia
Patagonia is so synonymous with hiking and outdoor activities that there’s even an iconic brand of athletic apparel bearing its name. Located in Chile and Argentina, this vast South American region boasts unique flora and fauna, waterfalls, glaciers, and rugged mountain ranges. The landscapes of this region invite visitors to go trekking.
Fortunately, Patagonia contains many incredible hikes perfect for families on the go. The Fauna Trail is an easy 1.5-mile walk that will introduce you and your kids to Patagonia’s stunning landscapes, plants, and animals. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for foxes, condors, guanacos, Andean deer, and puma. Besides the Fauna Trail, you’ll also find many family-friendly paths that let you check out rushing waterfalls, scenic vistas, and awe-inspiring glaciers.
Active Family Adventure
Whether you choose to swim with whale sharks in Baja, bicycle through the Loire Valley, or get the inside scoop during a sumo wrestling lesson in Japan, an active family adventure should connect you and your family with nature or local culture. It should lead to the creation of wonderful memories you’ll treasure forever.
Are you ready to be active in 2021?