Hey Dudes, Saddle Up with Your Kids.

As the year comes to an end, it is time to think about next summer and making vacation plans. Given 2016 is an election year and it seems like there will be no end to the absurdities which will likely be super-sized by summer, I think a dude ranch might be the answer. A dude ranch vacation provide opportunities to escape the 24-hour news cycle and to get real. Time on a guest ranch delivers new experiences with every sunrise and no fact checking will be needed.

Dude Ranch Vacation Smile

Smiling comes naturally for kids on a dude ranch vacation.

Our family has enjoyed many Wyoming campfires with sing-a-longs, trail rides in Colorado, Arizona starry nights with coyotes yelping, and cowboy poetry in Alberta. Our daughters learned to saddle and ride, rope and shoot skeet, track and identify scat before they were teens.

I can say honestly no two days on a ranch will ever be the same but every day is guaranteed to be interesting and rewarding. Expect horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart with a little music, a lot of storytelling, and plenty of reasons to smile or laugh out loud. Expect screen-free family fun.

Located in some of the most breathtaking areas of the U.S. and Canada, dude ranches are usually all-inclusive and generally flexible with activities. One of the best resources for planning a family dude ranch vacation is the Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA). Their website features more than 100 accredited guest ranches.

Browsing is part of the fun.

Happy trails,

Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files

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A Harvest Time Farm Stay Is the Remedy for Nature Deficiency Disorder.

An escape to rural America is an easy way to create your own free range agri-adventure enjoying the simple pleasures of a lifestyle enjoyed by a select few. The great thing about a farm stay getaway is that it will be beautifully screen free and most likely can also be labeled  free range.

Farm Stay Pumpkins and Kids

Pumpkins and kids make any farm stay extra special.

An authentic farm stay is not is a bed & breakfast in an old farm house no longer part of a working farm but instead it is an immersive experience and a tonic for those suffering from  “Nature Deficiency Disorder.”

Through hands-on experiences children have to possibility to learn the values of conscious, responsible living. What a great way for kids to learn that milk comes from cows and not cartons in the supermarket and that goats are not just curios and gregarious, they are a source of scrumptious cheese.

Farm Stay Egg Collecting.

During a farm stay nothing creates more excitement for tykes than collecting fresh eggs.

No two locations are the same and each experience is unique not just to the farm or ranch but also to the season of the year. There will always be daily livestock chores (optional), and often times harvesting, and maybe even wrangling. Little urban bunnies may participate in animal grooming, apple picking, pumpkin hunting, hayrides, campfire stories, and stargazing without the intrusion of city lights.

Western Pleasure Ranch in Idaho Horseback Rides

Experiencing autumn from horseback at Western Pleasure Ranch in Idaho is the stuff from which family memories are made.

The perfect resource for planning a farm or ranch stay in North America is Farm Stays US – a site offering oodles of un-hotel vacation experiences. Their rich menu of listings spans coast to coast including all 50 states. A useful guestbook tab features comments from guests who often times are parents or grandparents..

Some farms host guests in the farmhouse while others provide separate spaces including converted farm buildings, cabins, floored safari tents, or campsites. No two locations are the same and each offers unique benefits – the most obvious advantage – a chance to unplug, disconnect and discover the gift of time.

Who doesn’t need more time to enjoy life?

Nancy Nelson-Duac

Curator of the Good Stuff  for www.thefamilytravelfiles.com  and a lover of pumpkins, horses, and goat cheese.

Family Vacation Camps Offer Uniquely American Summer Vacations.

Just like the kids version, family vacation camps provide ways to socialize with other families and share unique bonding experiences with new friends. For many it is an economical way to getaway, have fun together, and mom does not have to cook or clean up.

Kingsley Pine Family Camp in Maine

Why should kids have all the fun? A Kingsley Pines family camp vacation is like taking a land cruise in Maine with all the fun included.

No two family camps are the same but all guarantee summer family fun so expect plenty of outdoor shared activities during the daytime, with sing-a-longs, s’mores and campfires at night.

The best family vacation camps, sometimes dubbed “multigenerational camps”, offer simple lodgings with meals included and dozens of terrific activities meant to be shared with other families at camp. In fact in many cases traditional kids’ summer camp locations designate “family camp” weeks.  Family camp locations vary including lodges, hotel rooms, cottages, cabins, and sometimes tent cabins with no electricity. Some provide private baths while others offer shared bathhouses.

Just as varied as the sleeping spots, the activities define the experience. From banana boat rides and sailing classes to performing arts and studio families can easily have fun together. Family camp experiences make it easy to achieve a sense of community sharing family fun with multiple generations.

For the full list of family vacation camps go to the Camp Out folder featured at the Family Travel Files.

Why should kids have all the fun? Really.

Nancy Nelson-Duac                  Curator of the Good Stuff for the Files

Jamaica: Runaway Bay, Franklyn D. Resort & Spa – Moms Stay Free in May.

I like how this sounds. Someone at FDR Resorts gets it. If mom is happy then the whole family will have a better vacation. So, jump-start your summer with your kids on Jamaica’s north coast. Why not?

Here’s the deal. Franklyn D. Resort & Spa and Pebbles Resort have announced mothers will stay for free during the month of May as a thank you for all that they do. This benefit applies to moms arriving at either resort with dad and kids (1st May through 4th June, 2010).
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West Virginia: Oak Hill, ACE Adventure Center and Resort – Family Reunions and Togethering in the Mountains.

Family vs. River: The Challenge!

ACE Adventure Center and Resort, in Oak Hill, West Virginia is one of the best places on the East Coast for families to get away (and play) together. But what about when you want to organize more than an one family trip… what about the biggest family travel challenge, the family reunion?

Finding a family reunion spot which works for everyone is not easy – one size never fits all. But for active families ACE Adventure Center has all of the components to create a terrific family reunion loaded with action. No one will be bored.  The atmosphere is friendly and comfortable, like staying with old friends. For active families the ACE Adventure Center and Resort location is heaven – show up, sign in and let the fun begin.

Sounds ideal for a family vacation but a family reunion?

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USA: Family Camps – Why Should Kids Have All the Fun?

Family camp is similar to summer camps for kids but for the whole family gets in on the fun. The lodgings are basic, meals and many activities are included and the experience is easy on the family vacation budget.

The family camp concept is the perfect example of a high value, low cost family vacation experience. Ideal for creating family memories no two camp locations are the same but all guarantee family fun. Expect plenty of outdoor shared activities during the daytime, with sing-a-longs and campfires at night. Family camps sometimes dubbed “multigenerational camps”, offer simple lodgings, with meals included. In many cases traditional kids’ summer camp locations designate “family camp” weeks. Continue reading