Many families have both preschoolers and teens, so planning a vacation everyone can enjoy is tricky, but possible. Look for destinations where multiple levels of involvement are available at the same venue. Don't be afraid to split up for an hour or two. Let older kids participate in an activity while little kids have some down time.
1. Get wet
Plan a day at the beach, the lake, or a water park into your trip. Rent water toys (paddle boards, kayaks, body boards, etc.) for the older kids and let the little kids play in the sand. Take some time to build a sandcastle all together. Kids of all ages enjoy hitting the hotel pool and hot tub after a long day of sightseeing.
2. Visit a museum
Your little kids will just enjoy looking. Your older kids may like to read the plaques. You can find any type of museum in most major cities and they usually have areas that interest teens and offer areas designed for toddlers. Children's museums are especially adept at appealing to different age groups. Don't be afraid to ask for suggestions at the front desk. Many museums have worksheets, games, or scavenger hunts available to help enhance the experience.
3. Visit a National Park
National Parks are designed to accommodate different levels of interest and ability. Take the short trails together. On longer hikes, one parent can allow little kids explore an open area while the other parent takes the older kids a bit further along the trail. The junior ranger program helps kids of all ages get the most out of their visit.
4. Hit the slopes
Kids as young as 3 years old can learn to ski. Let your older kids take some time to help teach the younger ones. It's a great opportunity for sibling bonding. Teaching a younger brother or sister a skill will give the older kids confidence. The attention they get from an older brother or sister will delight the little kids. Parents can take turns going on the bunny slopes and the bigger runs. Everyone will enjoy sipping hot cocoa at the end of the day.
5. Go for a bike ride
Bike tours are a terrific way to see a city. Find a riverside trail or designated bike path. Most rental places have bike trailers or tot seats available so the littlest ones can enjoy the ride without slowing down the whole family. Let the youngest rider set the pace.
6. Catch a show
Plays and musicals appeal to young and old. The Wizard of Oz, Disney's Lion King, Peter Pan, and Suessical are just a few of the titles that will enchant the whole family. Dinner shows, like a western barbecue dinner with a bluegrass band, can also be a lot of fun. Check local theater listings for the area you'll be visiting.