Getting teenagers to take some time away from their devices and engage in the non-digital world can be a serious challenge. Travel can help. Pick the right destination and with a little luck, you’ll be able to catch a minute of bonding time—maybe even five!
We selected six spots where even your big kid can have a blast. From archery to horseback riding to hiking to kayaking, these destinations offer outdoor thrills that might just have them wanting to unplug.
The Resort at Paws Up
For a ranch vacation full of adventurous activities as well as pampering, look no further than the Resort at Paws Up in Montana, a family-friendly resort that encompasses 37,000 acres of wilderness. Don your best country garb and go horseback riding—teens will love the Foundational Horsemanship guided activity, fly fishing, river rafting, rappelling, or ATV riding. Your kids can learn about the Lewis & Clark expedition as well as other explorers that have wandered through the area as they’re immersed in nature. Stay in a lavish cabin, fully stocked with everything you’ll need while on vacation, or opt for luxury glamping and access to chuck-wagon dinners. pawsup.com
Denali National Park
If the highest peak in North America doesn’t impress your teen, we don’t know what will. Plan a family trip to Denali, to see the 20,310-foot, snow-covered mountain, glorious scenery and extensive wildlife. Here, you can see the Big Five: moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and grizzly bears. Park transportation, the only way to get into the heart of the park, along Denali Park Road, and a seasoned guide will educate you and your family along the way. For a deeper look into Alaska and the interior, employ the expertise of Pursuit, trip architects who can design a whole Alaskan vacation, including hiking excursions, kayaking, air taxis to see the glaciers from above, a visit to Talkeetna (where a cat is the mayor), a ride on the Alaska Railroad, and overnights at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, Denali Cabins, and Denali Backcountry Lodge. nps.gov
The shoreline in South Walton, along Florida’s panhandle, has some of the softest, whitest sand you’ll ever see. Beyond the stunning beaches, there are 16 diverse beach towns that offer a myriad of kid-friendly activities. There’s kayaking with dolphins, beach bonfires, shoreline fishing, hiking in state parks and food trucks that sell every type of food and beverage a family could ask for at Seaside’s Airstream Row. Book a vacation rental or stay at WaterColor Inn, which has three swimming pools and plenty of dining options. You’ll be within biking or walking distance to much of what the area has to offer.
The Langham Chicago
Have a kid who appreciates the finer things in life? Or maybe there’s an upcoming occasion worth celebrating with an urban escape? The Langham Chicago, a five-star hotel located on North Wabash Avenue—near the Chicago Riverwalk, Navy Pier and the Centennial Wheel, Chicago Children’s Museum, Maggie Daley Park, The Art Institute of Chicago, 360 Chicago, Millennium Park and Cloud Gate. It also has a wonderful Afternoon Tea program. Bring the whole family, or invite some of your teen’s friends and listen to live music while you nosh on fancy sandwiches and flavorful tea—pinkies out, of course. Teens will feel grown-up, and parents can finally snap some photographs with well-dressed kids. langhamhotels.com
Zion National Park
Zion is full of exciting outdoor adventures seem tailor-made for teenagers. From easy, yet beautiful, hikes on the Pa’rus Trail, the Grotto Trail, or Lower Emerald Pool to moderate experiences on the Watchman Trail, Sand Bench Trail, or Kayenta Trail to the more difficult and strenuous romps on the Angels Landing via West Rim Trail or the Narrows, your kids will have the best time exploring in nature. For exciting—and well-located— accommodations, book a covered wagon at the Zion Wildflower Resort and sleep like a pioneer from days of old. Furnished with a comfy king-sized bed and bunk beds, it lets the family have an outdoor adventure without having to bed down outside. nps.gov
Vermejo, A Ted Turner Reserve
With wild game drives, bison and elk sightings, noteworthy archaeological sites, horseback riding, archery, fishing, geocaching, and down-home dining experiences, Vermejo offers a chance to get back to nature and bond with your family in a way that sticks. Explore 550,000 acres of land, with the Southern Rocky Mountains in view, and stay in a private guest cottage, the expansive Turner House, Costilla Fishing Lodge, or Casa Grande. This Beyond Green property is a wild retreat like no other, one that will generate special bonding moments between you and your teen. tedturnerreserves.com