By Bob Schulman
Exciting-but-safe places like Iceland, the Galápagos Islands and Costa Rica are becoming increasingly more attractive for family vacations.
Mix equal parts of adventure – like bicycling around centuries-old villages – with comfort and security, stir in some newly ginned up family friendly itineraries, and you’ve got what the travel industry calls “soft adventure” tours.
Here are some examples of popular softies:
Galapagos Multisport: Perfect for athletic families and fit seniors, this itinerary allows you to explore the Galapagos the active way — hiking, kayaking, biking and snorkeling. Getting up close to sea lions, dolphins, turtles and bountiful birdlife is a great way for dad, mom and the kids to enjoy this enchanted archipelago. Book through Adventure-Life (http://www.adventure-life.com/tours/galapagos-multisport-998).
Italy Family Cycling Tour: Cycle scenic roads along the Adige and Etsch River Valley…traverse the “Ciclopista del Sole” (Bike Path of the Sun)…experience an awe-inspiring descent into Lake Garda. This cycling tour gets an “A” from adventurous families who want to explore Italy by bike in a leisurely and luxurious fashion. Book through Ciclismo Classico (https://ciclismoclassico.com/trips/family-bike-tour-sud-tyrol).
Greenland Adventure: This photography-hiking adventure is an awesome introduction to calving glaciers, fjords, hot springs, palatial icebergs, dogsledding, indigenous cultures and arctic wildlife. Families who love taking photos, viewing wildlife and hiking will eat this one up. Book through Big Chill Adventures (http://bigchilladventure.com).
Costa Rica Quest: Wildlife enthusiasts will get a chance to mosey through Tortuguero National Park, one of the most important nesting sites for the green sea turtle. The adventure offers a thrilling whitewater rafting trip on the clear waters of the Sarapiqui River and culminates with a visit to Arenal, Costa Rica’s most famous (and most active) volcano. Book through Adventure Life
Colorado Dude Ranch: The High Lonesome Dude Ranch is the premier “out west” place to make memories that will last a lifetime. Fishing, equestrian activities and culinary excellence create the perfect setting to discover true western tradition. Book through Frontiers, Elegant Journeys (http://www.frontiersej.com/public/elegantJourneys/1/The_High_Lonesome_Dude_Ranch/main_menu).
Vietnam Family Cycling: This family friendly cycling holiday along the Vietnamese coast is designed for both cyclists and their non-rider family members. Using two centrally located hotels in UNESCO World Heritage Sites Huế and Hội An, the tour offers optional morning rides returning in time for lunch and activities ranging from trips to historic sites and national parks to lounging on the beautiful beaches of Hội An. Book through Ride & Seek Bicycle Adventures
Russia’s Reindeer Adventure: Explore the remarkable Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia’s east coast. Highlights include helicoptering to the UNESCO-listed Valley of the Geysers, visiting a camp of reindeer breeders, soaking in an extensive system of hot springs and trekking the Avacha volcano. This is bound to be a hit with families with adventurous teens. Book through the MIR Corp (http://www.mircorp.com/tour_kamfre.asp).