Explore the English countryside along the newly inaugurated Great West Way, following an ancient route stretching from London to Bristol by the order for King Charles I. Customize your own itinerary along the 500-mile route and build in experiences along the way, such as The Wave inland surfing park or tours of Blenheim Palace.
There’s even a Great West Way Rough Guide to help plan stops with practical local information and insider tips. You can even choose a theme such as Houses & Gardens, Family Fun, City Culture Breaks and National Trust sites — or mix it up so everyone in the family gets to fulfill their own personal vacation dreams.
There’s even an option to travel along the Great West Way aboard a traditional “narrowboat” and float along the Kennet & Avon Canal adjacent to the Great West Way. Multiple outfitters provide boat hires, and visitors navigate 105 locks along the length of the waterway. Boats typically sleep four people and come equipped with a bathroom with shower, and small kitchen galleys with stovetops and refrigerators.
Family Fun attractions include Longleat, a safari park offering the new Koala Creek VIP Experience animal encounter, including opportunities to hand out snacks to graceful giraffes and playful sea lions, or offer nectar to the Rainbow Lorikeets who live in the Adventure Park’s Monkey Temple. Kids can also meet tigers, aardvarks and gorillas. A Safari Drive takes in Wolf Wood, Lion Country and the Cheetah Kingdom, plus the Big Game Park, Monkey Mayhem and the African Village & Walking Safari.
There’s also Legoland Windsor Resort close to London, with Lego-centric rides and attractions; and STEAM Museum in Swindon, located within a restored railway building. Along with historic locomotives, kids can conduct a train via a simulator, and operate the signals using an interactive signal box.
Numerous National Trust sites can be enjoyed in locations like Wiltshire, Bath, Bristol, Berskhire, the Thames, the Cotswolds and the neighboring villages. Highlights include Dyrham Park, Berkeley Castle, Tyntesfield estate and gardens, and Newark Park — a Tudor hunting lodge and estate near the village of Wotton-Under-Edge. Nature lovers should be sure to include Westonbirt The National Arboretum in Tetbury, Iford Manor Gardens near Bath, Prior Park Landscape Garden and Stourhead, complete with an 18th-century garden, lakeside paths, grottos and classical garden temples.
While urban wine country might sound like an oxymoron, it’s actually a reality at the stunning City Vineyard in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. The water-side venue is the perfect host for your next event — whatever that may be, from 20 to 200 guests and from cocktail party to plated dinner.
As a fan of train travel, I often choose a ride on rails over a drive or flight, especially in Europe, where I always relish the high-speed trains. In Tokyo, I once appreciated a speedy, efficient and easy-to-understand experience; but, speed isn’t the only appealing aspect of train travel. From Venice to London, on the Venice Simplon Orient Express, we traveled through the coastal cliffs of the Cinque Terra and dined in formal opulence; from Whistler to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer, we sipped tea while viewing the spectacular scenery.
While considering dreamy destinations for a romantic rendezvous, Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo immediately came to mind. I convinced my late husband, Bob, to take me there after a solo trip to Monaco (via helicopter from Nice-Cote d’Azur) on my first trip to the South of France. Our stays together left such an indelibly delicious memory that I’ve returned multiple times, including in 2018 and 2019. It’s a venue I recommend at any time, especially Valentine’s Day.
When considering a new destination for your family’s vacation list, solo trip, romantic getaway or just something to watch between trips, this list of wanderlust-inducing films should help. Watch a few of the family-friendly options with the kids and make it a movie night: