By Nora Heston Tarte
Cure your wanderlust with a summer vacation for the whole family. Science suggests that spending money on travel is a positive investment, and experiences have been linked to higher levels of happiness. There’s a slew of positives that go hand-in-hand with traveling as a family, and you don’t have to go far to reap the benefits.
Perhaps most important is the family bonding that occurs when you step away from your responsibilities and focus on having new experiences together in a different place. While you create lasting memories, you can also take pride in knowing the excursion is opening your kids’ eyes and allowing their perspective to expand outside of their day-to-day bubble. Not to mention, the “forced” time together can help siblings learn to share and quell some of that rivalry.
Check out our list of adventures—both near and far—and pick a place to getaway together this summer.
Westin Kierland – Scottsdale
Escape the heat without escaping Arizona. The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale is gearing up for summer with a host of cool activities (emphasis on the cool). Wintery-themed thrill- and chill-seeking adventures with polar plunges (where the resort pool is filled with hundreds of pounds of ice) every Saturday afternoon, Friday and Saturday night pool parties featuring Smokin’ Jack’s BBQ and a DJ, and Surf Into the Sunset specials on the Kierland FlowRider—a wave stimulator where guests can surf and body board. The resort’s Adventure Water Park also boasts a 900-foot-long lazy river and a 110-foot waterslide. From May 30 to September 5 guests can take advantage of The Big Chill Package—rates start at $169 per night and include a $50 per room, per night dining credit or two free sessions on the Kierland FlowRider wave simulator, or show up for Memorial Day Weekend and celebrate with snow—eight tons of snow to be exact, along with 1,000 pounds of ice, a synthetic ice rink and giant inflatable water slides will all be on hand at the resort for the weekend.
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, 6902 E. Greenway Pkwy., Scottsdale (480) 624-1202 www.kierlandresort.com
Four Seasons – Troon North
Spend your family vacation at Four Seasons – Troon North in Scottsdale where the vibe reads summer camp for the whole family. Cool-off poolside with luxurious cabanas and snacks of smoothie samples and fruit kebabs before jumping in for dive-in movies, or take in all the Arizona Sonoran Desert and Pinnacle Park has to offer by escaping into nature. On Thursday nights, a professional astronomer leads complimentary stargazing while resort guests enjoy scenic views of the Valley below.
Step up your summer with Sundaes on Sunday—an old-fashioned ice cream social—and Friday night Backyard Barbecues at Proof (the onsite American canteen). Kids will enjoy the Kids For All Seasons program, open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m., which features a rotating schedule of daily programming. While the kids are busy, adults can partake in some of the resort’s other amenities such as spa treatments at The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, complimentary beer and wine tastings, margarita demonstrations, live music, happy hour and more. A spa happy hour offers treatments at a discount 3-7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Summer, weekday rates start at $179 per night, per room.
Four Seasons – Troon North, 10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale (480) 513-5039 www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale
Just 15 miles from downtown Phoenix, the Wigwam: Phoenix Arizona Resort is a beacon for family fun and adventure. The Arizona staycation favorite for families includes tons of family fun, as well as special amenities for mom and dad. Enjoy 54 holes of championship golf, a 26,000-square-foot Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, four pools with two twisting water slides and five restaurants and bars. From morning bike rides to outdoor games and kid’s karaoke, there are plenty of opportunities to create lasting memories together at Wigwam.
During summer, kids can head to Camp Wigwam—a summer camp program that focuses on activities for children up to age 12 or 13 every Tuesday through Sunday starting May 31—where they’ll take part in golf and tennis clinics, kickball, cooking classes, arts and crafts, water games, pool slide duck races, movies at the pool and fireside s’mores and stargazing. Take advantage of The Summerscapes Package, use promo code SCApEAP—rates start at $139 per night and include a $50 resort credit per room, per night plus breakfast for two people per room per night from May 30-September 8.
Wigwam, 300 Wigwam Ln., Litchfield Park (623) 935-3811 www.wigwamarizona.com
Glorietta Bay Inn
Set your sights on California where a trip to the picturesque Coronado Island will have you singing its praises. The Glorietta Bay Inn is a 100-room boutique hotel that offers both historic mansion rooms and contemporary rooms and suites. This beach escape is just steps away from boutique shopping and delicious dining options. Miguel’s Cocina Mexican Restaurant is a raucous cantina with a lively atmosphere while Vigilucci’s Ristorante offers an upscale air but with a dog-friendly patio and piano bar that’s a bit more laidback.
Take advantage of the hotel’s Coronado Escape package ($520). The deal includes three nights in a contemporary deluxe king or two-queen room, parking, continental breakfast served in the historic mansion and a bottle of wine upon arrival. For $100, upgrade to a historic mansion room.
Visit Hotel del Coronado
Beach hop across the island
Spend a family day at Spreckles Park or Centennial Park
See the Vietnam Unit Memorial Monument
Enjoy standup paddleboarding, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing
Take a private tour of the island
Venture into San Diego (6 miles) to visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo along with the rest of Balboa Park
Glorietta Bay Inn, 1630 Glorietta Blvd., Coronado Island (800) 283-9383 www.gloriettabayinn.com
Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort
Located in Tucson, the Hilton El Conquistador plays host to a summer-long party. The newly renovated main pools, cabanas and adjacent restaurant—Desert Springs Grill—are a big draw for vacationing families. To sweeten the pot, (mostly) free events and amenities include: Saturday disc jockeys performing poolside, dive-in movies on Saturday nights, daily pool games and fitness classes, fun cocktails and mocktails served poolside for the whole family and an adults-only acacia pool and hot tubs.
When you’re ready to get out of the water, turn to the Sonoran Desert that surrounds. Stargazing and solar tours, an Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Animal experience (Sunday mornings), 45 holes of championship golf and 31 tennis courts are all on-property. Don’t forget cooking classes for kids! Book the “Leisure Escapes” package, rates start at $129 per night and receive a $50 resort credit per night to use for resort dining, shopping or spa services.
Visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Hike Sabino Canyon or Tumamoc Hill
See Mission San Xavier del Bac
Catch a show at the Gaslight Theater
Stop by The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
Visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens
Head to Trail Dust Town
Take the kids to the Children’s Museum Tucson
Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort, 10000 N. Oracle Road, Tucson
(520) 544-5000 www.hiltonelcconquistador.com/conquersummer
Agreeing on a summer vacation locale can be rough. While some family members will vote for adrenaline-pumping adventure, others may favor rest and relaxation. Enter Durango, Colo. where “a dozen vacations in one destination” is the motto. History buffs will love the town’s southwestern charm and historic elements, from a historic steam train that rolls through town to horse-drawn carriage rides down Main Street and plenty of southwestern entertainment.
At the same time, adrenaline junkies can get their thrills hiking, biking, climbing, and ziplining. From off-roading and horseback riding around the river to kayaking, paddling and rafting through it, there’s plenty of opportunity to satisfy your inner thrill-seeker. For those who like to relax on vacation, check in to one of the town’s spas, or enjoy the natural hot springs. And perhaps the best part, Durango boasts versatile accommodations to match—from rugged campgrounds to Victorian hotels.
Stroll the Animas River Trail
Take a farm tour at James Ranch or Honeyville Honey
Stop by Trimble Hot Springs
Attend one of Durango’s famed festivals
Catch a show at Durango Arts Center
Listen in at a Cowboy Poetry Reading
Check out art at 3rd Avenue Arts or Diane West Jewelry & Art
Durango Area Tourism Office, (800) 525-8855 www.durango.org