See that boy doing a backflip off that cliff? Yep, my kid loves to do stuff like that. The kind of stunts that make his mama nearly have a heart attack. Since I was raised with pretty overprotective (but wonderful, loving) parents, I have had to go deep to be comfortable letting my boy figure out his limits and take healthy risks.
When we plan family adventures now, I want to make sure we are giving him and his little brother opportunities to explore new places in the ways that they love - lots of active, big body movement and plenty of time in nature, preferably both at the same time.
On a recent trip to Hawaii, my tween's highlight was a night snorkel with manta rays. If you've researched Hawaii, you've definitely come across a manta ray night snorkel. On the Big Island, we chose to go with a more conscientious tour guide called Manta Ray Advocates. We liked that there were no other tours, no boat ride, and a maximum of six people per tour. It was an incredible experience of not only seeing beautiful tropical fish and other marine life, but also being belly-to-belly with gigantic manta rays.
Other highlights from our trip to Hawaii included Volcano National Park (Big Island) and a cave rafting tour of the Napali Coast (Kauai). We used Captain Andy's and couldn't have been happier. The boys had a blast and got to experience beautiful sites (including dolphins!) while riding on a fast, bumpy boat. More bucket list ideas that we didn't get to do this trip: a helicopter ride, whale watching, river tubing, and farm tours.
Other previous travel highlights for my boys have been zip lining in Costa Rica, climbing the steps of Teotihuacán in Mexico, and rafting on the Colorado River. Here are some trips that I love to daydream about.
Family Travel Bucket List
Japan is a great place for a teen-centered family adventure. There are plenty of activities to keep them entertained and active, from exploring ancient temples and castles to skiing in the mountains or surfing in the waves. In addition, Japan is a foodie paradise, with endless opportunities to taste delicious dishes from all over the country.
While we're not Disney fans and have never been to a Disney park, I've heard that Tokyo has the best in the world, and I must say I'm intrigued. Disney Tokyo is interesting because it's one of the few Disney parks that features a large number of unique attractions that can't be found at any of the other parks. For example, the park has its own version of Space Mountain called "Space Orbiter", a Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and a haunted mansion. In addition, several of the park's restaurants are based on Japanese cuisine, which offers visitors a unique dining experience.
Whether your teens are into history, animé, outdoor adventures, or good food, Japan has something for everyone.
2. The Middle East
The Middle East is a fascinating and diverse region that offers plenty of opportunities for family adventure travel. From the ancient ruins of Petra in Jordan to the rolling sand dunes of the Arabian Desert, there's something for everyone to explore. One popular activity for active teens is horseback riding. There are many stables throughout the region where you can book a guided tour or simply rent a horse for an afternoon.
We love the idea of a tour company that offers camel rides through the deserts of Morocco or Jordan. What could be more fun than riding on a camel through the sands under a star-filled sky?
You can also visit one of the many world-famous amusement parks like Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. I've been reading and hearing more about the United Arab Emirates for lots of unique and fun activities for thrill-seekers, and have my eye on the Bear Grylls experience in Ras Al Khaimah. No matter what your family enjoys, there's sure to be a perfect family adventure waiting for you.
3. East Africa
African safari. Need I say more? This is probably one of the most common family bucket list items, and is an incredible destination for a family vacation. There are many different countries to choose from, each with its own unique attractions. Serengeti National Park is a great place for a guided trip to see lions, elephants, and zebras in their natural habitat. The Great Rift Valley is an amazing geological formation that can be seen in several different countries.
Kenya is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. Fun fact: The youngest person to summit Mt. Kilamanjaro is Tijs Verwest, also known as Tiësto, who reached the summit on October 6, 2007 at the age of 10.
Tanzania has beautiful white sand beaches along the Indian Ocean. Uganda is home to Lakes Victoria and Albert, which are both great for fishing and swimming. There are endless possibilities for amazing trips in east Africa, both for young kids as well as older kids.
A family trip to Iceland is the perfect way to experience the natural wonders of this stunning country. There are many national parks and other natural attractions that make great day trips, and they are all accessible by car. One of the most popular parks is Thingvellir National Park, where visitors can see the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The park is also home to Iceland's largest lake, Thingvallavatn, as well as the dramatic waterfalls Glymur and Hvitarvatn.
Another beautiful spot is Vatnajokull National Park, located in southeast Iceland. This massive park is home to Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajokull, as well as countless rivers, lakes and waterfalls. It's the perfect place for a hike or a bike ride, and there are also plenty of opportunities for camping and fishing. I'd love to see the Northern Lights and soak in all of the natural beauty that abounds in this country.
Caves, hot springs, northern lights, dog sledding, sea kayaking, ATVs through riverbeds and across lava fields - what more could an adventurous teen want?
5. US National Parks
What better way to bond with your family than to explore the great outdoors together? The United States is home to some of the most amazing national parks in the world, and there's definitely one that's perfect for your family's next adventure. Here's a list of national parks that are perfect for families with adventure-seekers:
With its stunning landscapes and plethora of hiking trails, the Grand Canyon is a nature lover's dream come true. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and water, as temperatures can get extremely hot during the summer months.
The Grand Canyon offers families with teens a plethora of activities and adventures to enjoy. Some family-friendly spots in the park include the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim is a great place for a day trip, with plenty of amazing destinations to explore.
The North Rim offers a more remote and secluded experience, perfect for those looking for a more adventurous family vacation. Families can enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, and camping in the Grand Canyon. There are also ranger programs available that offer educational opportunities for kids of all ages.
Yellowstone National Park
Home to geysers, waterfalls, and wildlife, Yellowstone is one of the most popular parks in the country. Families with teens can go hiking, mountain biking, and fishing in the park. There are also many a visitor center located throughout the park where families can learn about the history and ecology of Yellowstone National Park.
Some of the more popular visitor centers include Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, and Old Faithful. There are also several trails off the beaten path that provide great views of the park without too much hiking. Just be sure to stay on the marked trails, as wildlife can be dangerous.
Zion National Park
There are a lot of fun things to do in Zion National Park for adventurous teens. A few popular activities include hiking, rock climbing, and canyoneering.
Hiking is a great way to explore the park's many scenic trails. There are trails of all difficulty levels, so every hiker can find something suitable. If you're looking for a more challenging hike, try one of the park's many rock climbing routes. Or if you're feeling adventurous, try canyoneering - an activity that involves hiking and scrambling through narrow slot canyons.
No matter what activity you choose, make sure to enjoy the incredible scenery that Zion National Park has to offer!
These bucket list trips for adventurous teens will give you and your family some amazing memories to last a lifetime. Have you been anywhere on our list? What was the trip of a lifetime for your family, and what's on your Family Travel Bucket List? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to share this post with your friends and followers who love planning epic family adventures!