4 Vacation Destinations That Are Perfect for Family Reunions
Family Fun for Everyone
In his 1893 play A Woman of No Importance, Oscar Wilde wryly wrote, “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” Indeed, filling your belly in a delightful setting make it almost easy to stomach Aunt Betty’s inveterate gossiping, Uncle Leroy’s overindulgence at the open bar, and the twins’ rowdy shenanigans.
Perhaps that’s why family reunions have remained popular even in the age of instant online communication.
Of course, a mediocre venue or a middling city can sour even the most genial multi-generational family gathering. After all, planning a group trip comes with its struggles! Having a variety of activities that appeal to multiple age groups and great places in which to enjoy them is the key to a successful reunion. Hence this article about four great destinations across the United States for family reunion vacations.
You might be surprised to find the Show Me State topping this list of family reunion destinations. But set your incredulity aside for the moment and consider the charms of Branson, the so-called Live Entertainment Capital of the World.
Golfing. Horseback riding. Amusement parks. Shopping. The easy availability of fine dining and family-friendly grub. And, of course, lots and lots of live music and shows, everything from country favorites such as the Charlie Daniels Band and Sara Evans to magicians, acrobats, religious reenactments and variety shows.
No, your group certainly won’t get bored in Branson, and given the state’s central location, it’s a natural gathering place for at least three geographic regions. It doesn’t hurt either that venues such as the Welk Resort can handle large groups at the drop of a hat and that its rates are reasonable.
Add in a 10,000-square-foot pool area, as well as a 2,300-seat on-site theater, and you have a site that can keep all ages entertained. Other resorts worth considering include the Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Country Inn, and (for those who like roughing it a little) the Bar M Resort.
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Remember Katy Perry’s slightly raunchy 2010 hit “California Gurls”? That song cemented the idea that Southern California is a place of palm trees, sun-kissed skin, sandy beaches, and itty-bitty bikinis. But travel 2.5 hours north of Los Angeles to the hamlet of Solvang and you’ll find and entirely different side of The Golden State.
Founded by Catholic missionaries in the 18th century and populated by Dutch immigrants 100 years later, Solvang is undeniably quaint. Shops couched in gingerbread house style storefronts dominate the main strip, and a giant windmill soars above the downtown area.
In addition to historic places of worship and local Danish sites, Solvang boasts lots of quirky boutiques, not to mention great wine and beer with some 20 tasting rooms serving up bottles from over 120 area vineyards. And speaking of the broader area, Solvang is perched right next to Los Padres National Forest, making it a great staging ground for bicycling and horseback rides.
The nearby Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort provides perhaps the best blend of town and country for family groups. Adults can unwind at the tennis courts, pool, or spa, while children will enjoy gathering eggs in the barnyard, honing their lassoing skills, or practicing archery. Stand-alone cabins allow visitors to take a break when the bustle gets to be too much.
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Sanibel Island, Florida
Located on Florida’s slower, sleepier west coast, Sanibel Island is the Jekyll to Miami Beach’s Hyde. Primarily known for the abundance of shells scattered on its beaches, Sanibel is a haven for anyone who enjoys subtropical climates.
It’s the perfect beach destination in Florida for those who are looking for an easy-on-the-budget and family-friendly stretch of coast. Swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, spying on the fauna in the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge — any and all of these are at your group’s proverbial fingertips.
There’s more to do than just beachy stuff, though. The island contains several golf courses, and the 130-year-old Sanibel Lighthouse is always open to the public. Schoolhouse Theater serves up art exhibits, independent films and live concerts aplenty.
Sanibel Sea School provides engaging educational programs about the surrounding environment for adults and kids alike. But don’t expect the same options as an urban setting: a family reunion will make most of its own fun in Sanibel.
Still, it’s pretty easy to enjoy yourself when staying at Casa Ybel Resort, a beachfront hotel with over 100 suites. A pair of on-site restaurants, a spa and a recreation concierge who can arrange for babysitting, bicycle rentals and tennis lessons from a local pro take the effort out of finding entertainment.
If Casa Ybel doesn’t meet your needs, know that Sanibel is fairly teeming with rentals. Other options include Ocean’s Reach, Sanibel Arms West and Island Inn.