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Five Terrific Grandparent, Grandchild Authentic Vacation Ideas – Doing Cool Stuff in the Real World.Family Travel Files Generation Bonds Sharing authentic, one-of-a-kind vacation experiences with the next generation is one of the benefits of being a grandparent. Do the cool stuff with your grandkids and let their parents do the rest.
Here’s the scoop. Want to spend time away with your grandchild or grandchildren but would rather pass on the Mouse or theme park experience? More and more grandparents are opting for authentic vacations with a less commercial twist. They are looking for vacation places and activities not seen on TV unless of course you watch National geographic, PBS or the Discovery Channel. I recently spoke with a group of grandparents about family travel and listened to their ideas about what it takes to vacation successfully with grandchildren. Even though ages and personal interests differed greatly, all agreed sharing real or authentic experiences was the best investment of time and money and the memory-making yield was the bonus. You will find oodles of intersting ideas in our Generation Bonds folder - trips which will last a lifetime.

Create your own free-range vacation. I am including examples of some delightfully authentic grandparent – grandchild vacations. The list definitely includes good stuff worth sharing. If you have any tips I would love to hear from you. The five ideas described below fit into a category I describe as free range.Concordia Language Villages family Week Fun
Share learning together. Give your grandkids passports to the world of cultures and share in the learning at Concordia Language Villages during their unique family weeks and weekends scheduled throughout the year. Comfortable lodging and homemade meals are part of the full-immersion experience. It is an excellent way to prepare for a future trip abroad and an excellent way to learn more about your own family heritage or about an entirely new culture. Grandparents and grandkids spend time together at meals, evening programs, dancing, singing and enjoying outdoor activities but there are also special times just for kids to learn the language through fun songs, games and play while the adults have time to take a language or culture class. The menu of language is tempting. Choices include Finnish, French, Korean, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, and Swiss-German plus the adventuresome French Voyageurs weeks. (Concordia Language Villages 8659 Thorsonveien NE Bemidji MN 56601. Toll-free 1-800-450-2214 or

Stay overnight in a lighthouse. At the Rose Island Lighthouse near Newport, Rhode Island it is possible stay the night or longer at the lighthouse and participate in the responsibilities of tending a working lighthouse. Tasks take no more than one to two hours daily leaving the remaining day for leisure.  What better way to spend an once-in-a-lifetime vacation with your grandkids. (Newport, RI 02840. (401) 847-4242 or

Pigeon Point Lighthouse and hostel fifty miles south of San Francisco also offers an authentic sea connection. It is an ideal spot to watch migrating whales, wander pathways under ancient redwoods at Butano State Park, and observe the antics of northern elephant seals in Año Nuevo State Reserve or join one of the free history walks are held on weekends. (210 Pigeon Point Road Pescadero, CA 94060. (650) 879-0633 or Pigeon Point LighthouseOuAbout Tree Resort Serendipity Treehouse in Oregon

Sleep in a tree house or a tee pee. Out 'n' About Treesort in Oregon is one of the best places in the country for “glamping” – comfortable camping. The complex includes 18 unique treehouses, oodles of platform pathways, several child-size forts, seven swinging bridges, five swings plus the Giant Tarzan, 20 flights of stairs, four ladders, a bunch of horses and a gaggle of chickens, swimming pool, and a zipline course spanning more than a mile. (Out 'n' About Treehouse Treesort 300 Page Creek Rd., Cave Junction, Oregon. 97523. (541) 592-2208 Out 'N About Treesort)
Les Toits du Monde treehouse not far from Lake Nominingue in Quebec’s Laurentians makes a terrific retreat for grandparents with grandkids. The adventuresome sleeping quarters are is perched in a tree top between two suspended bridges and comes complete with a easy access stairway and a pulley system. Teepee at Les Toits du Monde in QuebecGlamorously rustic, the abode has running water, composting toilet, and a woodstove but arrangements can be made for breakfast to be delivered. There’s also the option of sleeping in a teepee or a yurt and plans are under way for a hobbit house and an igloo. (1777 Hawks Way, J0W 1R0 Nominingue (Quebec) (819) 278-0483 or
Camp overnight with the animals. Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien also in Quebec offers a 36-hour eco-friendly “Land of the Caribou Experience” guided expedition into the Boréalie. It includes a vintage Quebecois lunch at the colonial-era farm deep within the park, sunset canoeing on Lac Montagnais, and a hot meal cooked over an open fire underneath the stars. Accommodations for the night are in a heated prospector tent among a caribou herd. Zoo Sauvage Caribou Camp Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien, 2230, boulevard du Jardin, St-Félicien, Québec, G8K 2P8.  (418) 679-0543, toll-free 1-800-667-5687 or

Safari West in northern California provides the benefits of a safari without the jetlag. The complex has 31 authentic safari tents on high wooden platforms complete with viewing decks, hot showers, private bathrooms, and continental breakfast. Safari West Wildlife Preserve is Sonoma’s version of the Serengeti. It provides close up viewing of giraffes, rhinos, antelopes, and zebras. During your stay there are guided tours by jeep and on foot. (Safari West Wildlife Preserve and African Tent Camp 3115 Porter Creek Road Santa Rosa CA 95404. (707) 579-2551. toll-free 1-800-616-2695 or Farm Farm stay in Texas

Try a farm stay. There is nothing better than sharing a few days on a farm with a child. No two experiences will ever be the same but memory making potential is guaranteed. Greer Farm in Daingerfield, Texas has what it takes for a free range grandparent, grandchild vacation complete with a cabin, private stocked lake, and the potential to help feed the animals including the  working horses, and the pet zebra named Pepper. Depending on the season pick blueberries or blackberries; rental paddle boats, kayaks, Jon boats, paddle boards or canoes. (Greer Farm 1444 CR 1125 Daingerfield, TX 75638. (903)645.3232 or
Bluffdale Farm in Eldrige near Springfield, Illinois offers a classic farm experience on a 320-acre working farm complete with cabins, cozy stone farmhouse, home cooked meals, and the potential for lots of animal encounters. Recreation activities include horseback riding, boating, fishing, swimming, hayrides, bonfires, and sing-a- longs. Depending on the season, hunt morel mushrooms; watch sheep shearing; feed baby calves and lambs; pick strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, apples or pumpkins. (Eldred, IL 62027.  (217) 983-2854 or  

More terrific family vacation ideas browse our Dino Trips at Family Travel FilesDino Trips or Ren Faires folders. And for the latest family travel news follow The Family Travel Files on Twitter (@FamTravelFiles) straight from the homepage.

Content researched and written by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Copyright updated 2017.