There’s lots to do on the water besides stepping onto a cruise ship that still caters to kids and grown-ups alike. Boating vacations require a little planning and research to make sure they meet your children’s needs, but are a rewarding way to see more of the world. From pirate adventures to medieval Croatia, here’s where to take your family on a boating vacation.
Gulf Shores has long attracted family visitors to its shores for its affordability and kid-friendly fun like go-karts and mini golf. But it’s not just a great boating vacation because it’s on the water with opportunities for boating and sailing. The renown Orange Beach Pirate Adventure takes families out on the Alabama Gulf Coast area for a swashbuckling pirate adventure. Young pirates get to defend their ship in a faux battle, sing pirate songs, get their face painted and hear stories of real-life pirate attacks.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Stretching along 40 miles of the eastern Caribbean, the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are known for white sandy beaches, reefs, fishing and boating. Give the kids a history lesson on this island nation made up of 32 islands, with its largest being St. Vincent, featuring unusual black-sand beaches and a 4,000-foot active volcano. Guests can charter a boat or sign up for a tour and island hop to explore everything from botanical gardens to beaches.
Croatia welcomes visitors to glide along its turquoise waters and explore the country’s 1,100 miles of mainland coastline and 1,200 nearby islands. A cruise along Kvarner Bay on the northern coastline is perfect for families looking to get away from the crowds and enjoy some dolphin watching and see uninhabited islands. Or take a history-based cruise with Voyages of Antiquity to learn more about the castles and cathedrals of Croatia to turn your trip into an edutourism opportunity.
Located in Southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park features the deepest lake in the United States and offers volcano boat cruises for physically fit families. Hiking about one mile down (and back) to a boat dock is required before embarking for an afternoon boating inside a volcano full of water to see a totally unique geological experience. You’ll also get an overview of Wizard and Ghost Ship Islands where hikers are rewarded with a glimpse of Witch’s Cauldron.
The Danube and Rhine Rivers
Whether you adore big-brand cruises or avoid them altogether, a small river cruise is the perfect way to view the Danube and Rhine Rivers to see more of Europe. You can book your own river cruise or opt for Adventures by Disney River Cruise that takes care of every detail and knows exactly how to anticipate and cater to family’s needs. Families get a cultural immersion experience including ziplining in the Black Forest, touring apricot farms and visiting medieval castles in an all-inclusive experience. Although you won’t see Mickey and Minnie on your adventure, you do get that ridiculous attention to detail that Disney offers.
Chances are you know South Beach or have heard about the southernmost section of Miami Beach — 23rd Street to South Pointe Park. It’s the historic Art Deco district with stunning white and pastel buildings lining Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and beyond.
By Hainan Airlines
Tucked into the central coast of California is a trail of history waiting to be found by your kids. The Highway 1 Discovery Route through San Luis Obispo County snakes along the winnowy Pacific Coast Highway, CA-1, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The more than 100 miles of mostly protected coastline begins after a four-hour drive from San Francisco at Ragged Point, or about three hours from Los Angeles at Nipomo. The trail features 10 cities, connected by cliffs, carved by a moody ocean, and a slower pace of life. There are plenty of reasons to stop and walk into the past, preserved by those whose hearts still live there. Nature lovers will linger on the many trails to hike and picnic areas. We drove from Los Angeles with two 9-year-old boys to explore this part of the state.
Raising a budding Julia Child or Jacques Pépin? Or just looking for a more interactive family activity? Register your family (or kids) for a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America.
The coastal city of Dubrovnik, in the south, is perhaps the most popular destination in Croatia for families. The red roof tops of the white buildings are a strong contrast to the jewel-toned Adriatic Sea surrounding the city, making it a picturesque stop for many cruise ships. The city is known for being affordable for families looking for a seaside vacation.