Written by Michelle Rae Uy. Gather the extended family for a vacation that strengthens bonds and creates lifelong memories.
Perhaps no one is more deserving of a vacation than busy families. Months of early morning alarms, repetitive routines and mundane responsibilities can take a toll on kids and adults alike. Leaving the daily grind to spend a week or two in an unforgettable locale during spring break is just the ticket for a well-deserved system reboot. It also offers the perfect opportunity for family bonding, and not just for parents and their children. According to global luxury travel network Virtuoso, multigenerational trips top the list of travel trends for 2018. Grandparents as well as aunts, uncles and cousins are now regularly joining the fun, whether it be on the beach in California or at a theme park in Florida.
As a result of the growing trend, many popular destinations are offering more experiences that to appeal to all ages. Popular urban locales like San Diego and Orlando feature tours and encounters that cater to everyone from young children to senior adults. Many hotels and resorts enhance multigenerational vacations with indulgent spa packages and exciting gastronomic experiences, in addition to convenient lodging options that accommodate larger and more diverse groups. Alongside much-needed quality time together, it’s a recipe for the perfect springtime trip. The following five cities offer a range of experiences to ensure that every member of the family makes the most of the getaway.
Home to some of the country’s grandest theme parks, including Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, Orlando is top pick for children. However, the city is more than just kid-friendly.
“The parks cater to different ages and offer passes that are flexible for what each family member prefers to visit,” explains Erika Bandy, Virtuoso travel advisor and founder of Lux Travel Erika. The kids can enjoy the theme park rides and soaking up the sun at one of the water parks with the grandparents, who they may not be able to spend time with on a daily basis back home. Meanwhile, mom and dad might take the opportunity to relax with cocktails and conversation by the pool.
For essential bonding time as a group, everyone can visit a museum, like the Orlando Science Center. It offers immersive exhibits for children to enjoy, while also presenting interesting and unique facts so that parents and grandparents can learn as well. Other options that will leave everyone smiling include seeing a show, having dinner at a world-class restaurant, or combining the two with a trip to either Pirate’s Dinner Adventure or Medieval Times.
“There’s also a great airport hub with numerous connections nationwide and internationally,” Bandy says. This makes Orlando an easy meeting point for relatives who live in different cities, states or even countries.
For a family-friendly stay, Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is chock-full of multigenerational offerings. The Omni Kids Crew program welcomes the youngest guests to the resort, while the Mokara Spa rejuvenates adults during their stay. For some competitive fun, on-site golf courses range from miniature to championship so that everyone can get swinging. The resort also boasts several restaurants, three- to four-bedroom suites and several resort activities for the whole family, including a lighted basketball course, an arcade, a lazy river, and Orlando’s only resort wave pool.. To supplement a theme park vacation, Omni Orlando also offers complimentary shuttle rides to Walt Disney World.
The Bay Area city seems to go through a major makeover every few years. Today, it’s known for its thriving tech scene and its effervescing culinary culture. It’s this ever-evolving personality that allows San Francisco to always have a few aces up its sleeve, making it perfect for multigenerational travelers. As Bandy puts it, “San Francisco is a city that is open to anything. It’s adaptable yet it maintains its own identity. Each of its neighborhoods has a specific personality, yet they are all interconnected in some way. Multigen families can appreciate this intricate web.”
There are plenty of ways to keep everyone entertained. Hop aboard a famous cable car, get some exercise walking across the Golden Gate Bridge or visit Fisherman’s Wharf for food, fun and sea lions. For an especially exciting experience, take a ferry to Alcatraz Island for a tour the infamous prison.
“San Francisco is an alluring city because it offers something for foodies, history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts. … It also offers easy access and direct flights from around the country, allowing families to come together,” says Kristi Marcelle, a fellow Virtuoso travel advisor and a family specialist at Ciao Bambino, an award-winning online family travel guide.
Omni San Francisco Hotel, nestled in the Financial District, takes full advantage of the city’s many facets. The property’s recommended itinerary includes a diverse array of activities, from visiting the historical attractions and cultural sites to carving out time to immerse your group in nature or indulge in delicious dishes.
While it may be known as an urban escape, San Francisco is also a great jumping-off point for outdoor adventures, making it more likely to appeal to everyone in the group. “San Francisco is the perfect starting point for a spring break vacation because it’s an urban destination that can easily be combined with a trip to the beach in Carmel or an outdoor adventure in Yosemite National Park, which often has roaring waterfalls in later March and April,” Marcelle says.
Its collection of family-friendly theme parks has earned San Diego a reputation as the Orlando of the West Coast, but the Southern California city offers a plethora of attractions that make it completely unique.
For example, its close proximity to the Mexican border has greatly influenced its culinary scene. The nearby mountains and state parks ensure that active pastimes are a quick drive away, and the city’s location on the coast allows for easy access to beautiful stretches of beaches. There’s something for every taste and age.
“It’s the activities that appeal to animal lovers, beachgoers and theme park enthusiasts,” Marcelle says. “Even the toddler age, the most challenging age to travel with, is well covered well in San Diego attractions. They, alongside the great year-round weather, make San Diego a very popular destination for multigen family travelers during spring break. … San Diego is a wonderful base where families can spend the entire week taking in sights, [both] in the city and daytrips within an hour drive.”
Omni San Diego is the perfect hotel if you are looking to be in the center of the hustle and bustle of the city. Located in the heart of the historic Gaslamp Quarter, families are minutes away from popular attractions include Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. Families can also catch a San Diego Padres game at PETCO Park, which is connected to the hotel via a pedestrian skywalk.
For those looking for a more relaxing visit to the San Diego area, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California, is located just north of San Diego near many of the city’s most popular attractions, including Legoland, which is a must for families. Guests can also soak up the sun at one of the many nearby beaches, birdwatch at Batiquitos Lagoon or learn about preserving the environment at Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Kids and adults alike may also enjoy witnessing spring blooms at the colorful Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch or visiting the Children’s Pool in La Jolla, a popular site for harbor seals.
There are also plenty of activities for multigenerational groups available at the resort. Family experiences that appeal to kids, parents and grandparents range from the energizing to the relaxing. Join surf camp during the day and roast s’mores later on. If pampering is called for, the renowned Spa at La Costa offers treatments and massages that quickly melt away stress. Even youngsters can get in on the fun with a special children’s manicure or pedicure.
This notable Texas city isn’t just a utopia for history buffs, it offers attractions for a wide range of interests and, better yet, ample opportunities to enjoy time together as a family.
Its collection of theme parks, including SeaWorld San Antonio, Aquatica San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas appeal to kids of all ages. The cobbles of the historic Alamo mission transport the entire group back in time. The lovely Riverwalk, with its boat tour and assortment of restaurants, entice extended families to explore and dine together.
Day excursions are on hand as well. A quick jaunt out into the picturesque hill country, which blooms so beautifully in the spring, equates to easy family adventures in the great outdoors. It’s home to such wonders as the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, Hamilton Pool Preserve and Garner State Park. A short drive up to Austin leaves room for eclectic musical performances.
For an ideal, family-friendly base where grandparents can be as comfortable as the kids, Omni La Mansión del Rio has all of the essential amenities in a striking Spanish Colonial setting. These include the Hospitality Parlor Suites that may be expanded to a two-bedroom suite that fits a family of six or more. While the kids are on an Omni Kids Crew scavenger hunt, which takes them throughout the historic hotel, the adults can indulge in treatments such as the Girl’s Day Out and the Gentlemen’s Getaway at the Mokara Spa. Later, the whole family can meet for a “dive-in movie.” Or, for a more local flavor, watch a live Mariachi performance at the pool.
For families yearning for kid-friendly accommodations, Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade checks the box. The 326-room hotel overlooks the rolling Texas Hill Country and features two kid-friendly suites. The Discovery Suite is designed to provide the comforts of home and stimulate children’s sense of adventure and discovery. It features twin beds with colorful bedding, a mini-sport court, a choose your adventure reading area, costumes and surprises—all designed to appeal to both boys and girls. Parents are connected next door in their own well-appointed King Suite. Additionally, the hotel features an Aquatica Suite with twin beds, a built-in salt water aquarium, a treasure chest full of books, costumes and surprises—all to help create the illusion of being under the sea.
Palm Springs, California
As Bandy points out, part of Palm Springs’ charm is its ability to bring visitors “back to nature and disconnect from screen time.” The region is filled with beautiful natural scenes and activities to keep the family active. The kids will adore the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens as well as the kitschy Cabazon Dinosaurs. Parents can take a hike along the Cactus to Clouds Trail or through the Indian Canyons, and everyone will enjoy the views from the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car that offers sweeping panoramas of the San Jacinto Mountains.
Educational attractions that the whole family will appreciate include a visit to the nostalgic Palm Springs Air Museum and the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. For a creative outing, the Palm Springs Art Museum is a must-see. At sundown, excellent restaurants line the streets in the city center.
This being a desert destination, water parks top many lists of favorite local activities, and Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa boasts its very own. The resort’s Splashtopia features a 425-foot lazy river, two 100-foot waterslides and a cliff-side Jacuzzi for all-around family fun. For parents looking for time alone as a couple, the Azure adults-only pool is a quiet place to relax and enjoy a cocktail. Other resort activities include golf at one of the resort’s three distinct nine-hole courses, tennis and a 20,000 square-foot European spa.