Image source: Flickr - Tiberio Frascari
Theme parks, zoos, water slides - chances are they're all just around the corner from where you live. But year after year of amusement park road trips and visiting out-of-state relatives can get tiring. Spice up your family's vacation plans by tossing in a little dash of culture at one of these less-common, family-friendly travel spots:
If you've ever read a Hans Christian Andersen story to your children, you'll have an idea of the type of magic that awaits your family in Denmark.
Although Denmark rarely tops family vacation idea lists, for kids there's perhaps no more exciting place on the European continent. Denmark is loaded with theme parks including Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens, one of the world's oldest and one of Europe's most popular theme parks, and the original Legoland in Billund with its popular Miniland featuring scaled-down reconstructions of villages, movie scenes and world-famous landmarks.
Even if the amusement parks grow old, surprise your kids with a ride through a fjord on a Viking ship, a chilling dungeon tour at Kronborg Castle or a whale watching expedition in Middelfart.
From Pokemon to Hello Kitty and samurais to Sony, the youth of the Western world is enamored with Japan. And if you've been searching for that perfect family travel spot that is foreign yet familiar and modern yet ancient, then look no further than this fascinating East Asian country.
Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, Japan will never cease to entertain the whole crowd. Beyond Tokyo Disneyland, Japan - particularly the Tokyo area - is home to a number of kid-friendly attractions including Tokyo Sea Life Aquarium, Sanrio Puroland and Tokyo DisneySea.
Older children and teenagers, on the other hand, will simply love walking around Japan's cities, whether mingling with Japanese fashionistas in Tokyo's Harajuku district, experimenting with high-tech gadgets in Akihabara, hunting down ancient legends in Kyoto's temples or searching for Japan's best sushi in Osaka or Kobe.
The Middle East isn't often seen as a family vacation hot spot, but if any place could change your mind it would be Oman. Despite sitting in a region with a reputation for complexity, Oman is a surprisingly easy and safe place to travel, even with the kids in tow.
Start your family adventure in the Omani capital of Muscat, a city surrounded by mountains and endless miles of surf and sand along the Gulf of Oman. After spending a couple days bargaining in souks and soaking in the traditional architecture of the Arabian Peninsula, saunter down the coast to the Ras al-Jinz Turtle Reserve, an important sanctuary for endangered sea turtles and a favorite stop for children and environmentalists alike.
But if a truly unforgettable Middle Eastern family experience is what you're after, head a couple hours inland from Muscat to Wahiba Sands to hop aboard a camel and trek into the desert with a local guide. Watch the silky dunes change from a pale gold to a fiery orange as the sun dips below the sand, and cap the night off with a traditional local meal and camping in a Bedouin tent under the stars of an unspoiled desert sky.
Would you ever consider visiting any of these uncommon family-friendly destinations? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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A perfect storm of wandering wordsmith and travel photographer, Ryan O'Rourke lives and breathes travel. For the last decade, Ryan has roamed around the world, living in 4 different countries and visiting over 30 countries along the way with no signs of slowing down. Ryan's insatiable wanderlust inspired him to found Treksplorer where he now writes about his adventures and offers unconventional travel planning, language learning, and travel photography tips for independent travellers.
When not out and about, Ryan calls Northern Ontario home, and enjoys basking in the great Canadian outdoors and lazily chilling by the campfire with an acoustic guitar. Follow Ryan on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest.
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