After the hustle and bustle of the school year, most families look forward to the relaxed days of summer. Many use the time off to take a vacation. Including your family elders in your getaway can build bonds across generations. With thoughtful planning, it can be a memorable time for everyone.
Fortunately, planning an intergenerational vacation doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. Our national park system is home to a variety of options.
Explore the National Park System
Families often find car travel an easier option when multiple generations vacation together. If the kids get restless, you can stop to enjoy some ice cream or run around a roadside park. Seniors will also appreciate the opportunity to stretch their legs and use the restroom.
Depending upon where you live, a national park is likely within a day’s drive. Most are accessible for people with mobility challenges and offer a variety of intergenerational activities. A few to consider include:
- Great Smoky Mountain National Park: Located along the North Carolina and Tennessee border, this is one of our nation’s most popular parks. With activities ranging from hiking to bird-watching, it’s easy to understand why. The park offers a Junior Ranger program for children between the ages of five and 12. You’ll find a variety of family-friendly cabins, campgrounds, and value-priced motels nearby.
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore: The Outer Banks in North Carolina are another popular option for intergenerational summer getaways. The area provides families with opportunities for water activities, historical destinations, lighthouse exploration, and more. The park system owns four campgrounds along the seashore, with other lodging options nearby.
- Acadia National Park: If your family is interested in sailing, whale watching, or kayaking, a trip to Maine might be in order. Nature hikes are a popular activity, too. Boat cruises and carriage tours make this park a good choice for seniors who find hiking challenging. While there is no lodging inside the park, there are campgrounds and other accommodations nearby.
- Glacier National Park: The pristine beauty of this park makes it worth the trip. It is located along the U.S.-Canadian border in Montana. You can enjoy this park without battling the crowds you find at Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Lodging in and around the park ranges from historic hotels to cabins and chalets.
Train Travel for Intergenerational Vacations
Another option you might want to explore for an intergenerational getaway is a train trip.
- Grand Canyon Railway: This popular train service gives families the option to choose everything from the length of their trip to what car they travel in. On-board musical acts, cattle-rustling, and staged robberies are part of the entertainment.
- Niagara Falls Train: Trains bound for both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the Falls depart from a variety of locations. Day trips allow families to see the falls from a different perspective, and longer trips cover more ground and incorporate more destinations.
- Coast Starlight Train: If you are looking for a scenic tour of the West Coast, this railway is one to consider. It travels between Los Angeles and Seattle. Travelers enjoy comfortable sleeping cars and family-friendly menus.