Time Travel is Possible

Want to have fun in a place that doesn’t revolve around WiFi or a screen? Spend more time together when you travel back in time, whether it’s a few decades or a few centuries.

Ballyfin 3 back in time

© Carley Wade, Ballyfin


Step back into the time of the landed gentry and live the life of a Downton Abbey character at this resort in Ireland’s Slieve Bloom Mountains. A former 20-room Georgian mansion is set on 600-plus acres of gardens easy to zip around in a golf cart, via horse-drawn carriage or fun for exploring at a princess-like turreted tower. Kids can delight in clay pigeon shooting, archery, falconry lessons, horseback riding or indoors in the heated spa pool. There are also costume nights to make a grand entrance a la 1850 in the dining room.

Mackinac Island

This car-less island in Michigan uses horse and buggy, foot or bicycle for all transport and largely escaped the hustle and bustle of time. The living Victorian village features an old-fashioned downtown, historic military complex, Fort Mackinac, and the Grand Hotel, featured in the movie Somewhere in Time. Don’t miss out on taffy or fudge over the summer, when outdoor activities like kayaking abound.

Plymouth Plantation

Live like some of country’s original settlers, learn to shoe horses, play games that involve a hoop and stick instead of a console, feast on corn grown on the land, and meet both “Pilgrims” and Wampanoag “Native Americans” who proclaimed thanks together in 1600s Massachusetts. These historical interpreters interact with visitors by speaking in the first person and answering questions and showing families tasks like cooking and planting. On the plus side, there’s no need to live like a Pilgrim when you stay at nearby Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Plymouth, where the Giverny-inspired environs include charming in-room fireplaces, a relaxing spa and gourmet dining that definitely goes far beyond what was served at the first Thanksgiving.

© Carley Wade, Ballyfin

Williamsburg Area

History’s undergone a revolutionary makeover in Yorktown in the form of a new $50 million American Revolution Museum, where kids can enjoy interactive experiences including “The Siege of Yorktown,” 4-D presentation on a 180-degree screen 71 feet wide where you feel the rumble of the cannonballs, smell the gunpowder and watch the fog of war. Or check out Colonial Williamsburg, and for a break and some balance, Busch Gardens and Water Country are nearby.

Wild West

Live like a cowboy at historic, 150-year-old Tanque Verde dude ranch in Tucson; there are no TVs in guestrooms, but there is 60,000 acres of scenic desert for horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing and more. Or check out The Broadmoor, in Colorado, and learn to herd cattle on a working ranch, enjoy a private gorge with waterfalls, ziplining and golf.

Ballyfin horses Back in Time

© Carley Wade, Ballyfin

Brady Bunch

Hollywood isn’t all glitz and glamour at the Garland, where the hotel’s bohemian, Southern California style reminiscent of the 1970s evokes everyone’s favorite blended-family sitcom. There are dedicated family suites and kids rooms, complete with spacious living areas, king-sized beds for the parents and bunk beds for the kids. Family-friendly activities include dive-in movie nights at the pool, macrame classes, special “made for many” family offerings on The Front Yard menu and board games in the courtyard featuring throwback classics like Backgammon, Sorry and more.

Future fun

Time travel doesn’t always have to be in the past — live the life of an astronaut at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Available for the whole family in shorter and longer time increments, camps are over winter school breaks and the summer, and include eating lunch with astronauts, flight simulators, model-rocket launching and simulated missions.