Teenagers are a notoriously tricky group to please, especially on family vacations. Increased togetherness, unstructured free time and unfamiliar surroundings can create a breeding ground for conflict. Fortunately, many vacation destinations offer amenities that take the needs of this picky age group into account. With a little planning and foresight, parents can plan a vacation that's truly fun for the whole family.
High-adrenaline activities keep teenage complaints at bay. If you're a family of nature-lovers, consider vacationing at a place such as Out'n'About Tresort (treehouses.com) in Takilma, Oregon, where visitors sleep in tree houses, swim in a tree-top pool and get around on a mile-long system of zip lines. Families that prefer horses to zip lines might want to check out a dude ranch such as Triangle C (trianglec.com) near Jackson, Wyoming. Its teen program includes overnights and rafting trips, discos and cowboy classes. If your budget's tight, a camping trip to a nearby state park is a fine way to find adventure on the cheap.
A family friendly resort will prevent your teenager from raining on your sand and sun dreams. Junior Club Med, at Club Med resorts (clubmed.us) in Florida, Mexico, Guadeloupe and the Dominican Republic, provides structured activities for type-A teens and relaxing hangouts for those who prefer to chill with their peers. The massive Atlantis Resort (atlantis.com) on Paradise Island, the Bahamas, is an aquatic playground for all ages, incorporating marine habitats, dolphin encounters and a water park with an amazing slide that plunges teens into shark-infested waters -- inside the protection of an acrylic tunnel.
Teens love returning to school and telling their friends they spent summer break in a place such as the Big Apple or Hollywood. Big cities are a excellent vacation options for families with older kids. Teen-friendly attractions in New York City (nycgo.com) include bike tours, Broadway shows, Central Park, live TV tapings and the Museum of Modern Art. If you prefer to go west, the Los Angeles area is overflowing with attractions for star-struck teens, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Wax Museum (hollywoodwaxmuseum.com), Paramount Pictures (paramountstudiotour.com), Santa Monica Pier (santamonicapier.org) and Malibu.
Try a sports-themed vacation for active and athletic teenagers. A ski destination such as Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort (skiutah.com) in Utah might be the place for you. Snowbird Resort offers ski lessons and slopes for all ages, along with snowshoeing, luge sledding, ice skating, and snow tubing. If your family prefers warm weather activities, they can learn to surf in Hawaii. Moana Surfrider Resort and Spa (moana-surfrider.com) in Waikiki offers surf lessons from expert wave shredders and canoe trips for those in search of quieter ways to enjoy the waves.
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