The coronavirus pandemic has canceled a lot of things, but your summer vacation doesn’t have to be one of them.
Picking a post-coronavirus lockdown vacation destination is going to be a bit difficult, especially during the early part of summer.
First you have to find a spot that’s open and safe. And then you have to find one that will be entertaining for the whole family, including your teenage kids, who are often the hardest member of the family to please. (And then you have to attempt to get them psyched about spending a week with the family, with whom they’ve already spent the last two months.)
Even when not vacationing during a pandemic, teens are often caught in the middle between organized children’s programs – which can feel like they’re being babysat – and young-adult experiences, which some may not yet be quite old enough for.
It’s time to plan trips where teens can thrive. Here are our picks for amazing and well-curated family travel experiences so even teens will put down their screens and enjoy quality time away with their families.
To take some of the uncertainty out of your post-coronavirus travel plans, we’ve selected teen-friendly destinations that have announced reopening dates – or at least a reopening time frame.
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Iceland, which begins welcoming back international tourists starting June 15, offers natural wonders that will leave them in awe: think volcanoes, glaciers, ice caves, thundering waterfalls, hot springs and geysers. (Photo: DagurJonsson Photography)
Reopening date: The country will begin easing restrictions on international tourists no later than June 15, its tourism minister said earlier this month.
Why it’s a good bet: Teenage boredom is no match for the land of ice and fire. There are natural wonders that will leave them in awe: think volcanoes, glaciers, ice caves, thundering waterfalls, hot springs and geysers.
Tour operator Nordic Visitor offers curated and unique Iceland family tours that gives teens the chance to get up close to these extraordinary landscapes, but they can also engage in exciting activities too, such as horseback riding, caving, glacier hiking, whale watching – even cooking breakfast in the earth at a geothermal park. Curious teens can also learn about Viking history, try some Icelandic ice cream, and scout film locations from “Game of Thrones.”
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Key West, Florida
The Reach Key West Resort offers an oceanfront pool. (Photo: Hilton)
Reopening date:June 1
Why it’s a good bet: Key West is tropical like Miami with amazing weather, but with a slower pace. One hotel to consider is The Reach Key West (Curio Collection by Hilton) that provides a fantastic beach getaway suited for all ages, especially teens.
The hotel has an array of teen-friendly outdoor activities, including bocce ball and beach volleyball, and of course the the oceanfront pool and beach. They can also visit the two pools at two pools at nearby sister property Casa Marina and rent kayaks and paddleboards from a shop located between the two hotels.
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The hotel is within walking distance of major attractions of Old Town Key West such as Duval Street, the Southernmost Point Buoy and the Ernest Hemingway House.
Hotels in the keys will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Before booking, be sure to review Florida’s state guidelines, which requires guests from certain hard-hit regions to self-quarantine.
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
Teens and families can soar on ziplines and traverse rope bridges over canyons with The Broadmoor’s Soaring Adventures. (Photo: The Broodmoor)
Reopening date:June 28
Why it’s a good bet: There’s spectacular weather and scenery – and activities that let your family take advantage of both. And the Broadmoor Resort, set on 5,000 acres at the base of the Rocky Mountains, lets you do it all.
There’s spectacular weather and a plethora of activities, making it a great destination to get teens outside and off their screens. Book a family tee time on two championship golf courses or play tennis or pickleball, learn to fly-fish or take a falconry lesson with a master falconer. And then hit the spa to relax afterward.
More adventurous teens can zip-line through Cheyenne Canyon and rappel into Seven Falls.
According to its website, the Broadmoor’s 23 boutiques and 20 restaurants and cafés will be reopening in phases. Even though they might not all be open during your stay, they provide teens a bit of freedom at the resort and time away from parents while also still being perfectly safe on property.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
A view of Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, located on the award-winning Isla Verde Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo: Fairmont El San Juan Hotel)
Reopening date: Tourists are already welcome back in the U.S. territory, but be aware that all commercial flights are being diverted to San Juan, where incoming guests must undergo a health screening upon arrival, including a brief interview and temperature check. Be aware that the 14-day quarantine rule for visitors still applies once you arrive.
Puerto Rico is an easy getaway, where there is no passport or currency exchange required. The weather is idyllic with sandy beaches and crystal-clear water. Consider a stay at Fairmont El San Juan, perfectly located between downtown and the Isla Verde Beach allowing the best of both worlds. Teens and their parents can relax in poolside cabanas or lounge in a beach chair. The property also boasts a pro-level tennis court, watersport rentals, jet skis, banana boats and parasailing.
Beyond the beach, for teens who are history-buffs, they can tour El Morro – Castillo San Felipe del Morro, or El Morro, a fort that sits at the top of Old San Juan and took 250 years to build. The site is rich in history and culture, plus offers views.
Outdoor experiences are the way to capture the interests for teens and the Toro Verde Adventure Park, an ecological adventure park with unforgettable zip-lining experiences, should be on the to-do list. The park is about an hour and a half drive from San Juan, but the views and experiences make the visit worth the time.
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Amelia Island, Florida
Teens with an interest in astronomy or nature might enjoy stargazing from the beach or hikes on Amelia Island. (Photo: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island)
Fly into Jacksonville, Florida and it’s less than an hour drive to the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Aiming to remind families of a time before cell phones and electronic games, The Ritz-Carlton offers a revamped version of the classic beach vacation.
The resort recently introduced a resident naturalist, who leads guests of all ages on exciting explorations of island wildlife. Guests 12 years of age and older can follow the naturalist on a birding excursion to Talbot Islands, to catch a glimpse of native and migratory birds. In addition to new adventures with the naturalist, teens and adults can learn from the resort’s resident astronomer, who offers private stargazing sessions to show off some of the best constellations, stars, and sometimes even planets in his high-tech telescope.
Additionally, ideal for families or groups with teens, resort offers the Hook, Line and Supper experience, a unique adventure that includes fishing with the one of the resort’s chefs to hunt for dinner.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Dells is a four-season destination with indoor waterparks. (Photo: Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau)
Reopening date: Many businesses are already open; you can check the status of specific water parks, attractions and hotels here.
Keeping teens entertained and content while traveling is one of the most harrowing parental jobs ever. But, parents won’t fret while visiting Wisconsin Dells, touted as “The Waterpark Capital of the World!” where there are more waterparks here of every size per capita than anywhere else on the planet, along with outdoor theme parks, indoor amusement parks and plenty of teen-approved places to refuel. Ad added benefit Wisconsin Dells is in the midwest, making it an easy drive from major metro areas.
Teens can catch thrills on extreme water slides at Noah’s Ark Waterpark (reopening June 19), known as “America’s Largest Outdoor Waterpark,” float along lazy rivers, hang out at the Natural Lagoon, try the country’s first underwater virtual-reality experience or chill by the infinity pool at Wilderness Resort (reopening June 4).
And there’s never been a better time to check out a movie at the Big-Sky Twin Drive-In Theatre, a retro experience that’s seen a resurgence in the age of COVID-19. The Indoor food trucks at the Grateful Shed Truckyard are fun, too.
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