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5 shoulder season trips for family travels

By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, FamilyTravel.com
Published: August 12, 2023, 5:43am

You can explore with your toddlers or home-schooled kiddos during the shoulder seasons when crowds have diminished and deals may be possible.

Here are five ideas to consider:

1. Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

For families that check into The Coral, the resort’s family-centric tower, an impressive level of luxury awaits within spacious rooms and suites. Compare notes with the Kids Concierge and in a flash, the dreams of mini-travelers (and their parents) will soon be a reality. From scheduling family swims with the dolphins to registering for Sea Squirts, an interactive marine program where youngsters can feed baby stingrays, sharks and schools of fish, the concierge is on hand to help create itineraries and smooth any bumps on the path to a memorable vacation. Ask about helping the Atlantis Aquarists guide Green Sea Turtle hatchlings to the sea. End the day with a sweet visit to the Sun & Ice ice cream parlor. Certified babysitters are also available for those parents eager to visit the spa or enjoy an evening out on their own.

For more: www.AtlantisBahamas.com

2. Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagaya

Experts advise that exposing junior adventurers to cultures, critters and climates different from their own, helps develop social skills and adaptability, while stimulating curiosity. It’s one more reason to tap into the “pura vida” lifestyle (it’s for real) and immerse yourselves in the country’s recipe for health, happiness and longevity. Should you check in to the Four Seasons, seamlessly integrated into the peninsula’s vibrant landscape, you’ll find the amenities of a contemporary eco-luxury hotel, and the relaxing, sun-drenched vacation for which you’ve been yearning. For a family-friendly introduction to the exotic fauna and flora of Costa Rica take a guided tour of the Trail of the Giants, a scenic adventure that showcases the region’s birds, monkeys, iguanas, butterflies and giant trees while providing jaw dropping views of the resort’s Arnold Palmer golf course and the Pacific Ocean. The resort’s Kids For All Seasons club features a kid-sized pool and junior lounge chairs as well as a range of immersive programs to entice the youngest guests.

For more: https://www.fourseasons.com/costarica/; www.visitcostarica.com

3. Discover farm fresh

Introduce your kiddos to our nation’s bounty by visiting farmer’s markets, joining in a barn dance or visiting a county fair. Connect in a community garden and become inspired to join in or plan for your own. For a more immersive experience, spend the night or a weekend on a family farm. Leave the electronics and everyday expectations behind and get ready to turn back time and pitch in for the morning chores. At farms across the country, kids can collect eggs, pet pigs, snuggle with a baby lamb, corral critters, fly a kite, tend to a garden brimming with fresh produce or hang out in the shade of fruit trees.

For more: www.FarmStayUS.com

4. Hawks Cay Resort, Fla.

Located between Key Largo and Key West, this 60-acre resort provides a picture-perfect setting for a family getaway. On Duck Key, your crew can swim in a saltwater lagoon or any of five pools, including the splashy Pirate Ship pool and the Hawk’s Cay kids pool where slides, water cannons, and raining palm trees lure young swimmers. The kid and teen clubs are also popular spits to get to know fellow junior adventurers. Of note is the interactive environmental activity program, designed to be both interactive and age appropriate, in which youngsters learn about dolphins, sharks, shore birds, residents of the nearby Everglades and other natural wonders. The older members of your crew can spend time fishing, kayaking, kiteboarding, cruising on a stand-up paddleboard or relaxing at the spa. Spend the night in one of 177 guest rooms or spread out in a two or three-bedroom villa.

For more: www.hawkscay.com

5. Kids on the trail

Getting kids outside early and often is likely to instill a lifetime love of nature. Visit a local trail and watch as your child explores with wonder, turning over rocks and observing small animals and birds. Choose a loop trail or plan a scavenger hunt. Bring along a picnic and plenty of water or juice so that the whole family stays hydrated. After a few close-to-home practice rounds, include nature walks and hiking in your travel itineraries. In time, you’ll be scaling heights.

For more: www.childrenandnature.org; www.Trails.com; www.NPS.gov.