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Three Reasons to Create Your Own Family Vacation in the Swiss Alps.Swiss Alps  Canton Flag Marks the Way For active family adventures the Lake Lucerne area is simply the best. Days can be filled with hiking, biking, sailing or swimming and nights offer music under the stars.
 
My daughter and I spent five days in the Lucerne area last summer. Each day – unique, our time was relaxing and rewarding. The best part, the three days we spent with ECHO Trails – a company offering family-friendly guided English-speaking hiking tours in and around Lucerne. Of all places in Europe, why Lucerne you are thinking? Read on. 

It’s a storybook setting not made by Disney. Take an icy cool lake with free form rocky shores and color it shades of cerulean and ultramarine blue then frame it with the Alps and add a medieval walled city with marketplace bridges and cobblestoned walk ways. Line the streets with artsy cafes and clever shops. Top it off with clean, efficient, easy to use public transportation and you have Lucerne.
 
Is it a family-friendly city? Yup. Summer days are magical with music of the street creating a carefree ambiance as the sun dapples the water’s surface caressing passing lake crafts. Swans mingled with lake kayaks, paddle boats, and lake ferries.  Street performers entertain and pedestrians have mastered the art of strolling. Bikes, dogs and strollers are welcome. Divine chocolates, awesome cheeses, yummy gelato, scrumptious Swiss-style strudel and soy smoothies are easy to enjoy. From my notes and interviews with families on vacation I can think of a dozen reasons to vacation in Lucerne with your family but my top three will give you the idea.Mt. Pilatus Bahn ECHO Trails Day Adventure
 
Hear dragon whispers and count ibis. Mt. Pilatus is a magical place for kids and an inspiration place for adults. Just getting to the top and back is an adventure which includes a lake cruise to Alpnachstad – the world’s steepest cogwheel railway which makes the Pilatus Kulm Peak accessible and the option of hiking down or jumping aboard one of the aerial cable car which connects with a string of gondolas. Pilu the dragon may or may not be on the mountain but more than likely ibis will be grazing near the trails. The trails are well-marked and easy for young legs to follow. The view from the top includes the lakes and valley framed by 73 mountain peaks but I lost count after 20. Bonus points: If hiking and dragon tales are not enough, along the mountain slope is an adventure park with a rope challenge, zipline, and Alpine toboggan run waterslides. Wait for it! For tykes there is Pilu Land at Krienssberg about 2/3rds of the way down the mountain. (Pilatus-Bahnen Schlossweg 1 6010 Kreins. +41 900 41 329 1111 or www.pilatus.ch)

Assemble a Swiss Army in person. Not far from the lake ferry dock in the picturesque town of Brunnen is the Swiss Knife Valley Centre (a.k.a. Victorinox Knife Museum). The modern museum and gift shop offers facility houses some things old and some things new. The history of the world’s most famous knife is conveyed with a short, informative video. On display is the smallest knife in the world and according to the Guinness Book of World Records - the biggest knife. On the day of our visit the facility was populated with shoppers securing not just knives but assorted logoed products. Swiss Army Knife Assembly in Brunnen with ECHO TrailsBonus points: With an appointment it is possible to assemble a knife on the spot. The cost is CHF 30 and it includes a personalized knife with "self-assembled" on the blade, along with an engraving of choice on the handle making it one-of-a-kind. Wait for it! Look for the 5000-year-old stone knife with exactly the same shape of blade and handle as the most modern Swiss knife version. (Swiss Knife Center Bahnhofstrasse 3, 6440 Brunnen. +41 41 820 6010 or www.swissknifevalley.ch)

Sample fresh-made cheese on a mountain meadow. The combination of fresh air and exercise makes all the difference in attitude. On one of our days began with a swift gondola ride to Furenalp - a mountain meadow landing above Engelberg. Our launching spot for a terrific day of hiking began with coffee and delightful pastries at Luftseilbahn. Children frolicked on the nearby playground oblivious to the world-class mountain views and exquisite cuisine. From the restaurant there are several trails worthy of investigating but we took the one to Abnet passing through flowered meadows and grazing cows each with their own bell.Best Swiss Cheese Ever with ECHO Trails Hike to Furenalp Bonus points: Our route included a visit to a cheese making co-op and time with the cheese maker himself. Yes, sampling was part of the experience of course. Wait for it! There is also a chance for more cheese making demonstrations at the Engelberg Monastery where Engelberger Klosterglocke is made. (Luftseilbahn Engelberg-Furenalp CH -6390 Engelberg. 041 637 39 49 or www.fuerenalp.ch)
 
To fill more days follow in the footsteps of William Tell in Altdorf; walk the streets and arcades of Old Town with its picturesque bridges and beautiful swans; travel by boat and then gondola to Mount Rigi or ride over the glacier on Mount Titlis and almost touch the sky.

Make it happen.
Our time in Lucerne was made easy by the efficient planning provided by ECHO Trails. While all of our excursions were relatively easy having an English speaking guide navigating the transportation and translating the menus made all of the difference for us. It was obvious to me after the first day that outside of Lucerne proper most residents do not converse in English so knowledge of Swiss German is essential to avoid disappointment. ECHO Trails scheduled day tours start from the Lucerne train station. And they offer custom family vacation adventures as well. Rene the founder is skilled at managing the needs of three generations and his flexibility and attention to detail during our days out made all of the difference in our trip.  Get the details at www.echo-trails.com

Here’s the deal. Look for the Lucerne Discount Card - a city transportation discount card available for durations of 1, 2 or 3 days. It offers visitors free public transportation within Lucerne plus provides benefits to museums and attractions. 

Location on the planet. The city is less than an hour from Zurich and an easy rail connection directly from the airport. Tourist Information Lucerne's tourist office is under the train station complex: Zentralstrasse 5 CH-6003 Luzern. +41 (0)41 227 17 17 or www.luzern.com.

Content and images byNancy Nelson-Duac,Curator of the God Stuff for the Family Travel Files.  Copyrigh tupdated  2018.
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