There are few vacations like a trip to the mountains for offering families a variety of things to do and ways to relax and recharge. Along with camping, kayaking, fishing, and the wealth of other outdoor activities, a mountain vacation lets you slow life’s pace, make new bonds, and stargaze like never before. Here are three mountain destinations with all the right ingredients for a perfect family vacation.
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Tennessee towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer a vast range of family vacation activities. America’s favorite national park offers accessible outdoor life with hundreds of trails, scenic drives, waterfalls and abundant streams. The towns offer hundreds of family attractions, restaurants, shopping and fun. Mountain coasters, ziplines and chairlifts offer fun and the outdoors, and the Dollywood theme park and water park Water Park also call this area home. Throughout the park and all around are scenic drives of breathtaking beauty with many stops to explore historic log cabins, mills, ghost towns and rushing mountain streams.
Even accommodations for families in this area are fun in one of the hundreds of cheap Gatlinburg cabins nestled in the surrounding foothills. Today’s vacation cabins are spacious and comfortable, with luxury amenities and even arcade games to keep the kids occupied, offering space for family fun and to spread out. Fireplaces, equipped kitchens, laundry rooms, multiple bathrooms, large covered decks with a hot tub and rocking chairs, WiFi and cable TV, all make them far from rustic. And the views of the Smoky Mountains all around, from the deck or through vaulted windows, make for a 24/7 mountain experience for the whole family.
The Adirondack Mountains, New York
Pristine lakes, majestic peaks and historic little towns make the Adirondack Mountains a perfect destination for families. Beautiful Lake George alone has enough attractions to keep you and the family busy for the entire summer, or any time of year for that matter. Downtown Lake George has several arcades, a variety of attractions including Dr. Morbid’s Haunted House, and lots and lots of miniature golf. Things to do on the lake include fishing, swimming, parasailing, jet-skiing, boating, and water skiing. Fort Ticonderoga, located at the north end of the lake, highlights the historical importance of the area for early settlers and offers gorgeous views of the lake as well. When evening rolls around, hop on the authentic sternwheel steamboat Minne-Ha-Ha for a relaxing tour of Lake George’s Southern Basin.
When the kids have had their fill of nature (it’s been known to happen), the nearby Great Escape Amusement Park has a huge wooden roller coaster, rides for all ages, and a water park for those hot summer days. If you need a break from the kids, (that’s also been known to happen), The Adirondack Winery & Tasting Room stocks a large selection of wines made right on-premise.
For a taste of modern history, head a little further north to Lake Placid where the U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey team stunningly defeated the Soviet team back in 1980. The same arena still hosts ice hockey games to this day. Every December, Lake Placid also hosts a family weekend of events called “the Holiday Village Stroll.” A Lake Placid tradition, the Stroll features family entertainment, holiday parties, and dining specials in a fairy-tale winter wonderland setting. There are always plenty of free activities for children during the festival, and Santa will definitely make an appearance.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs offers visitors a unique combination of traditional mountain activities, natural beauty, and historic charm. Its main attraction, Pikes Peak, sometimes known as “America’s Mountain”, draws millions of visitors annually. At just a little over 14,000-feet above sea level, the summit of Pikes Peak provides spectacular views for as far as the eye can see. The 19-mile paved toll road to the top of Pikes Peak also offers scenic views but can be daunting due to narrow winding stretches with no guardrails. The Garden of the Gods Park is the area’s other major attraction, featuring towering red-rock sandstone formations, some as high as 300 feet. The park has a world-class Visitor Center with interactive exhibits, a new Geo-Trekker theater experience, and a cafe that overlooks Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.
Downtown Colorado Springs boasts several compelling museums unique to the area. The Western Museum of Mining and Industry illustrates in detail how turn-of-the-century prospectors mined for and processed gold. The museum has thousands of artifacts on display, as well as a working ten-stamp ore mill. Meanwhile, the Space Foundation Discovery Center is one of the area’s most visited family stops, presenting Science on a Sphere – the world’s first dynamic spherical projection system – and numerous fascinating space artifacts and interactive exhibits.
Other popular area museums include the Ghost Town Museum, the May Natural History Museum, and the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Another Colorado Springs attraction popular with families, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo houses more than 750 animals and 170 species, including giraffes, hippos, and elephants. The Mountaineer Sky Ride, a chairlift style open-air ride, also leaves from inside the zoo. The ride disembarks at Mountaineer Summit, which features incredible views of the surrounding area. There’s also a playground specially designed for kids with a bouldering wall at the top.