|Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
|Best Family Reunion Ideas Combine Something Old with Something New.
The ideal family reunion location offers a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere, interesting activities for three (or more) generations, great gathering spaces, and planning assistance to make it happen.
Here’s the scoop. Family reunions have evolved to meet the needs of the more family. It’s no longer a gathering in grandpa and grandma’s backyard nor an evening at a nearby park. Families often combine vacations with family gatherings and look to locations with attractions and accommodations which make togethering easy.
I have identified a few locations with a high PGAR score – Parent, Grandparent Approval Rating. These are not the only spots ideal for togethering but they are representative of what it takes to be a terrific family reunion destination. Each one offers something old, something, new and something special - the formula for success.
Santa Cruz, California – Beach sunsets and rail power.
The San Francisco Bay area has plenty of spots for a family reunion. I am partial to Santa Cruz because of its eclectic, easy going atmosphere. It’s a beach town with a healthy attitude and definitely is PGA (parent, grandparent approved). Something old:
The iconic Boardwalk is the place to gather for vintage fun. In addition to a classic beach boardwalk complete with shops, benches, and yummy comfort food, there’s the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster (circa 1924) and an oh so beautiful Looff Carousel. Something new:
Scope out the jellies and gaze at the three-story kelp forest at the Monterey Bay Aquarium then arrange for spots on a behind-the-scenes tour to learn sea life secrets about the aquarium. For family members with staying power, it is actually possible to participate in a family sleepover at the aquarium. Something special:
Buy tickets for one of Roaring Camp Railroads 90-minute steam train excursion through awesome redwood forests to the top of Bear Mountain or take the Beach Train route through redwood forests, across a century-old steel bridge, and through an 1875 tunnel. (www.SantaCruz.org
Indianapolis, Indiana – At the heart of it all.
Made famous by the Indy 500, the city has moved on to embrace the arts, and add an urban twist to earth-friendly green space. Home to one of the largest and most remarkable children’s museums - Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Zoo, White River Gardens, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and the NCAA Hall of Champions, the city is a natural draw for a family gathering. Something old:
Spend a day together at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park where costumed staff members recreate life in 19th-century Indiana and provide first-person narratives about life during the 1800s. Something new:
If young children are part of your family gathering, make time for family fun at the award winning Children’s Museum of Indianapolis where actor-interpreters create an inspiring experience for guests of all ages as they engage with science, culture, history, and the arts. Where else can you discover a mummy’s tomb, travel by train, touch a dinosaur or explore a shipwreck with your family. Something special:
Picnic at the Indianapolis Zoo or reserve a gathering space in the Dolphin Adventure Dome complete with catering service. Then arrange to go behind the scenes and share one of the Zoo’s Animal Art Adventures. For the more adventuresome family members there is the option to get in the pool with dolphins. (www.visitindy.com
Tucson, Arizona – Freestyle fun in the desert.
Slightly off the beaten path, Tucson offers dramatic natural beauty, a spunky artistic atmosphere, and plenty of ways to create a terrific family reunion. It’s home to world-class Saguro National Park, Tohono Chul Park, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Pima Air & Space Museum, and the amazing Biospehere2. Something old:
Two places in the area offer natural connections with the past each with its own story and both worth sharing. The first is Colossal Cave Mountain Park, just east of the city along the Old Spanish Trail, which has the largest dry cave complex in the US. And second, a bit farther away Kartchner Caverns State Park, which is essentially an underground nature preserve larger than a football field. Something new:
Add a WOW! to your family reunion experience by spending time at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Activities vary by season but always include interactive ways to share family time and create memories. My favorite experience is the Raptor Free Flight. Something special:
Gather family members in Sabino Canyon for a narrated tram ride into the natural desert oasis populated by thousands of birds, indigenous wildlife, and cactus. On select dates from April to December moonlight rides are offered. (www.visittucson.org
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – Lazy, hazy days and golf.
For families with golfing as part of their vacation personality Myrtle Beach is ideal because it offers not just sun, sand, sea and great live entertainment venues but also more than 100 possibilities to golf with the family. Something old:
Picnic at Myrtle Beach State Park; fish on the pier or head to Huntington Beach State Park home of the Moorish looking Atalaya “castle”, a perfect spot for an awesome family reunion photo. Something new:
For those in your family seeking a thrill, a spin on the East Coast's only 200-foot SkyWheel is a must or try NASCAR SpeedPark and enjoy the Family 500. Something special:
Take advantage of family discounts at Alabama Theatre, Carolina Opry, Legends in Concert, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament or Palace Theatre to create a most memorable time together.
For more family reunion locations arranged by area of the country and advice on how to make your reunion happen view our Family Reunions
Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and A.L. Nelson-Duac. Copyright updated 2017.