From baby’s first steps to high school graduation, there are thousands of milestones to celebrate as parents during the formative years. And while these celebrations are often simple and understated, sometimes the milestones are so big that they require something beyond.
In my family, we celebrate the big ones with family holidays. Traveling creates its own memories, and traveling as a form of celebration can link these memories to the most important milestones in children’s lives. Here are some ideas for celebrating those big family milestones when the usual gifts or parties just won’t do.
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1. Graduated from primary school
Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Graduating from primary school is a big deal for children and an important milestone before the moody middle and teenage years arrive. Celebrate with a vacation that will capture their childlike imagination and satisfy a whole range of ages and interests in your family.
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With a giant outdoor water park, all oceanfront suites, and Nickelodeon-themed entertainment and decor around every corner, Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Riviera Maya, just 30 minutes from Cancun, is an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. celebrate a family milestone.
The resort is close to swimming holes, shopping areas and famous archaeological sites, but with so much to do and eat on site – including the six-acre Aqua Nick water park and its two lazy rivers, the Nickelodeon Place entertainment centre, character meet and greets, a range of seating and a a la carte dining and a huge beachfront swimming pool – there’s almost no need to leave the resort.
2. Moving up from secondary school
Disney cruises are always a fun family vacation idea, but celebrating your tween’s high school graduation is an especially good reason to book a trip. And Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Wish, could be the perfect vacation at sea for families with kids heading into those high school years.
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First, the sheer scale of in-flight entertainment options for tweens (and their parents) is off the charts. From action-packed Marvel-themed and Frozen-themed dinner theater experiences to an exclusive Star Wars lounge (open to kids during the day) to multiple pools, live shows and a fully enclosed sports court with an elaborate Incredibles-themed inflatable obstacle course, the tween-friendly the entertainment options on Disney Wish are practically endless. Kids ages 11 to 14 even have a dedicated space to themselves at Disney Wish, a tweens-only club called Edge, whose design is inspired by a New York City loft.
Disney Wish currently sails three and four night Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida. Most include a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, another middle-of-the-road destination where there’s no shortage of opportunities for new high schoolers to enjoy the sand and surf, with or without their parents.
3. Graduation from upper secondary school
National Geographic Signature Expeditions
Let’s just be honest: vacationing with teenagers isn’t always easy. As parents, we’re not as cool as we used to be in their eyes, and often they’d rather be somewhere – anywhere – than hanging out with family. But if your teen has a curious mind and a taste for adventure, consider celebrating their milestone with a guided tour from National Geographic Expeditions.
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Leaning into its core values of exploration, science, education and storytelling, National Geographic Expeditions offers guided tours on all seven continents, many of which are aimed at families. High-end National Geographic Signature Land tours are led by subject matter experts and provide special access to field researchers and places of interest. The more budget-friendly National Geographic Journeys use local guides and have more built-in free time at some of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, archaeological sites and wildlife-rich destinations.
4. Family reunions and multi-generational gatherings
C Lazy U Ranch, Colorado
The best family reunion destinations bring multiple generations together in a single space that has something for everyone to enjoy. It’s no easy task, but luxury guest ranch C Lazy U Ranch has been doing it since 1918. Whether you’re reconnecting with cousins or gathering siblings, parents and grandparents for the multigenerational vacation of a lifetime, there’s no shortage of things to do when celebrating a family reunion.
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Combining rustic dude ranch charm with all-inclusive amenities and year-round programming for kids and teens, C Lazy U Ranch provides a perfect backdrop for families to bond over gourmet meals served after a day of hiking, biking, skiing, archery, trap shooting, horseback riding , fly fishing or just a relaxing time in the spatula tent.
A year-round destination, each of the four seasons offers its own special activities, but each night throughout the year ends with a gourmet dinner, s’mores by the fire, and a good night’s sleep in the ranch’s on-site cabins that sleep anywhere from two to 11 people.
5. When there’s a baby on the way
The Post Ranch Inn, California
The months leading up to the birth of a child are a special time full of joy, anticipation and (let’s face it) a bit of anxiety. Babymoon vacations are a romantic way to celebrate this relationship milestone while allowing couples to enjoy each other’s company before parenthood makes those opportunities for romance that much harder to come by.
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Big Sur’s ultra-luxurious Post Ranch Inn is a one-of-a-kind lodging experience perfect for a romantic babymoon getaway. Designed to blend into its coastal redwood surroundings, the Post Ranch Inn lets you choose from a variety of secluded guest houses with ocean or mountain views, outdoor decks and walk-in showers or large soaking tubs, all nestled into the cliff side overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Activities at this adults-only guesthouse include gentle hikes, farm-to-table dining experiences with breathtaking views, and late-night stargazing. And with no televisions or alarm clocks to distract you, this is a romantic California getaway where you can immerse yourself in rest and relaxation before your little bundle of joy arrives.
The post 5 Great Family Vacations You Can Take to Celebrate Life Milestones originally appeared on FamilyVacationist.com.
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FamilyVacationist.com covers family vacation ideas; family holiday spots; all-inclusive family resorts; and must-have travel accessories for families of all shapes, sizes and orientations. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.