Though Spain’s weather is pretty amazing any time of year, spring is especially lovely, and the perfect time to immerse yourself in magnificent landscapes with visits to some of Spain’s best outdoor destinations.
Spanning the towns of Daimiel and Villarrubia de los Ojos south of Madrid, Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park is an excellent place to view the large number of aquatic flowers and the numerous bird species that winter within, or make their home year-round, in this natural wetland ecosystem. Species include multiple types of Iberian ducks, great crested grebe, common grebe, black-necked grebe, herons and egrets.
At Casa de Pilatos Gardens in Seville, a palace built by the first Marquis of Tarifa in the 16th century, you can wander around a shimmering pond and along peaceful pathways bordered by greenery. Water from a central fountain splashes in the center of a Renaissance patio and the Great Garden — refurbished in the 19th century — boasts two loggias with a triple-arched arcade. The grounds also include the Pretorio, a smaller formal garden featuring a rectangular-shaped pond.
Designated as Spain’s largest protected natural area, the Sierras de Cazorla y Segura Biosphere Reserve is comprised of mountains, forests and rare species of plants — including one that’s carnivorous. All told, there are 1,300 cataloged species, with two dozen found nowhere else in the world. Visitors can also keep an eye out for Spanish ibex, wild boar and mouflons, a sub-species of wild sheep with flamboyant, curved horns.
Nearly 40 acres of flora and fauna are on view at the Atlantic Botanical Gardens of Gijón. The gardens are a sort of living museum, divided into zones displaying native species from specific national regions, the history, purpose within the natural environment and how humans utilize each. The Atlantic Path showcases landscapes found in the North Atlantic, while the Cantabrian area houses plant collections from northern Spain. Other zones include the Island Garden and the Vegetable Factory.
Within the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, Sierra de Guadarrama National Park provides habitat to around 1,000 types of plants, along with about 40 percent of all the animal species found in Spain. Popular as a destination for hikers and mountain climbers, the park offers a variety of terrains, including granite rock fields, pine forests, lakes and glacial cirques — natural valleys that resemble an amphitheater, formed through eons of glacial erosion. Hikers may pass what’s left of traditional shepherd’s cabins or the ruins of sheep-shearing stations found along the mountain slopes.
Traveling with young children and, dare we say, toddlers, can often mean packing everything but the kitchen sink. You’ll need all the essentials, from food, clothing and baby hygiene products to travel gear and just-in-case accessories for every scenario under the sun. Sounds like a lot because it is, but companies like Totts can cut out a significant part of the packing process by shipping all the consumables you need for your trip, like wipes, diapers, body wash, detergent, hand sanitizer and more, to your destination. Travel a little lighter and have all the what-if necessities waiting for you at your Airbnb, hotel or campsite.
This summer, family travel at The Peninsula receives an upgrade with the debut of Camp Peninsula, a children’s experience that recreates the spirit of camping right in the heart of Beverly Hills. The journey begins with a special welcome from Peter Bear, the hotel’s lovable mascot, at check-in. After taking a picture with the life-sized teddy bear, kids will be whisked away by a Peninsula Camp Counselor to a luxurious guestroom where a charming teepee awaits. An afternoon of camp-themed games and activities, including a hotel-wide scavenger hunt, rounds off the family-friendly experience, fun for children of all ages. Whether it’s a luxe staycation or an extended holiday, Camp Peninsula is an ideal way to ensure the little ones are happy campers.
There are a lot of creatures rumored to be walking this earth, but no one knows for sure if they are real or mythical. One of these creatures is Bigfoot; you hear about it in stories, see it portrayed in movies and even hear people report sightings from all over the United States. There is no way it can travel throughout the United States, so could that mean there are multiple Bigfoots and they are just extremely good at hiding?
Cruising seems tailored for families. With great deals (and there are a lot right now), endless entertainment and great shore excursions catered to children, it seems like you can't go wrong, but not all cruises are created equal. Choosing a line specially designed to accommodate families with children is crucial when planning a family vacation and Norwegian Cruise Line makes your decision easy.
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.
When you have little ones, every experience can be a teaching moment and travel is no exception. Through travel we learn compassion, tolerance, history, an appreciation for different cultures and cuisines, and the value of having an open mind. But one thing often overlooked is that travel can teach budgeting.