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While classic family vacations like theme parks and all-inclusive family resorts never go out of style, embracing the newest travel trends for 2024 might expand your idea of what a family trip can look like. That’s especially true if you’ve stayed close to home the past few years because 2024’s emerging vacation trends are all about finding brand new experiences to enjoy together as a family.
Here are the newest travel trends that could help you make this year’s family vacation the best yet.
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1. Set jet (yes, you read that right)
Jet-setting might feel like the exclusive domain of the rich and famous, but set-jetting is for everyday travelers who are fans of media made “on location.” From vacationing in the City of Light à la “Emily in Paris” to journeying to Sicily to see the sights of “White Lotus” season two, visiting the spot where your favorite movie or television show was filmed is an emerging trend for 2024 vacations. In the U.S., Los Angeles is the epicenter of family set-jetting. Fans of “Barbie” can rollerblade in Venice Beach, just as Barbie and Ken did in Greta Gerwig’s hit.
For set-jetting with multigenerational appeal, channel Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” at the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, where much of the iconic movie is set. Dine like Eddie Murphy in “Beverly Hills Cop” overlooking Rodeo Drive at The Blvd (the large kids’ menu should please even finicky eaters). Or stay at The Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles and imagine yourself in the presence of the “Ghostbusters” (scenes from the original movie were filmed there) or Molly Ringwald from “Pretty in Pink.”
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2. Bring more, it’s merrier
The popularity of multigenerational family vacations shows no sign of slowing down in 2024. When you travel with extended family, booking an accommodation with room to spread out offers privacy and togetherness in the right proportion. Some families opt to rent a big house, maybe even hire a cook or organize meals together, while others relish having it all included. Either way, making memories in person has rarely felt quite as important as it does these days.
My family and I recently took a multigenerational vacation to Beaches Negril in Jamaica. We stayed in a new Eventide Villa with a kitchen, living room, four bedrooms, and 4.5 bathrooms that sleeps 18 people comfortably. While it was far from a cheap family vacation, the per-person cost fit into our budget and hit the sweet spot straddling independence and family time. You could also purposefully choose a combination of rooms and suites across a Caribbean family resort like Beaches so that meet-ups for activities are all the more special.
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3. Renew your passport the easy way
With post-COVID travel demand still soaring and so many possible travel trends to pursue in 2024, the process of applying for or renewing your passport through traditional methods continues to be unpredictable and, at times, downright frustrating. I recently used It’s Easy, a passport and visa expediting company that’s been in business since 1976 but is experiencing renewed interest in today’s travel environment.
I downloaded the app, which allowed me to take my passport photo in my living room, then filled out a few forms and mailed it all to their office. My new passport arrived straight to my mailbox in a jiffy. The process was efficient and well worth the reasonable fee. Children under 16 must apply for a passport in person, but It’s Easy can facilitate the process, holding your hand throughout.
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4. Learn indigenous history and culture
After a strong year in 2023, tourism that allows us to learn about the culture, traditions, and homes of our nation’s first inhabitants will continue to gain in popularity in 2024. This kind of travel can guide you to some of North America’s most beautiful natural settings while helping you learn history you may not have been taught in school.
Seek out Navajo-led tours through Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly to learn not only about the area’s cultural history but also about geologic time. In Monument Valley, you can do both by hiring a local guide to take you beyond the prescribed 17-mile loop. In Canyon de Chelly, there’s no other way to see the valley from its floor than with a local guide which adds power to the stories of the generations. Both the The View Hotel in Monument Valley and Thunderbird Lodge at Canyon de Chelly are Indigenous-owned and operated, so your visit serves you and channels important resources to local communities.
Similarly, purchasing crafts made by Native American artisans is welcome at a variety of Native Art Festivals all year long around the U.S., and you can learn about the process of some of the most prized crafts from Acoma potters during a visit to Acoma Sky City in New Mexico, the longest continually inhabited community in the United States.
Near the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Glen Canyon, and Lake Powell, stay at Shash Dine EcoResort in a traditional off-grid Native hogan near Page, Arizona. Or, for a more curated experience, consider joining Trafalgar’s National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas guided group tour. On this nine-day trip, you’ll gain a deeper knowledge of Indigenous history and current issues, including the value of respectful tribal tourism as a source of income.
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5. Engage with outdoor art
Even a few years on from social distancing, Americans continue to want to incorporate open spaces into their travels, and the many outdoor sculpture gardens around the U.S. are a perfect and low-key way to do it. Liberated from the constraints of an indoor museum, sculpture parks hold special appeal for families. Kids can run and play while absorbing color, form, and the ever-changing dialogue between art and the environment.
This past summer, my family and I visited the Olympic Sculpture Park in the heart of Seattle. The kids ran circles around Alexander Calder’s immense The Eagle while the adults took a seat on Eye Benches, surrealist eyeballs that double as surprisingly comfortable benches. It was free, easy, and fun. Of course, sculptures abound in the form of monuments, statuary, and fountains around the National Mall in Washington, D.C., most notably at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden and the easy-to-miss Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
For one of the best sculpture treasure hunts in the country, build a visit to the Storm King Art Center into a New York family vacation. Stretch your legs while you walk among marvels by Calder, Maya Lin, and Andy Goldsworthy, among others, or rent bikes to travel further afield. The 500-acre outdoor museum just 90 minutes from New York City is worth a whole day’s visit, and if you run out of steam or simply prefer to see more with less energy, there’s a regular tram tour throughout the day.
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6. Discover the joys of low-season vacations
For the family who sees art in all of nature and loves an outdoor adventure, ski resorts make great summer playgrounds, providing ample opportunities for mountain biking and hiking in particular. While vacationing in swanky, snowy wonderlands in places like Aspen and Jackson Hole is expensive in winter, prices tumble as temperature rises. At the exclusive St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Utah, ski trails are transformed into a patchwork of mountain biking and hiking trails. Out-of-the-box activities like falconry and candle-dipping are also part of the summer experience, and the giant swimming pool is a magnet for kids.
Similarly, Limelight Ketchum‘s central location in Ketchum, Idaho, makes for an ideal home base for mountain adventures. A fly-fishing mecca, Ketchum offers the thrill of the river, an extensive trail along the valley riverbed, and downhill mountain biking with handlebars pointed towards the water. Bikes are available at Limelight, and it’s a gentle jaunt to the Sawtooth Botanical Gardens or deeper into town for any of Ketchum’s awesome dining spots.
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7. Savor a new kind of culinary travel
Travel tends to be best enjoyed with delicious dining options, and everyone can enjoy a special setting. After all, why have dinner at an ordinary restaurant when your family can feast in a novel setting with plenty of panache? Pair your Colorado vacation with a stop at The Airplane Restaurant and dine inside a real Boeing KC-97. Then, take a quick trip to Denver just to dine at Casa Bonita, where waterfalls, all-you-can-eat Mexican food, and seating for 1,000 create a true dining experience.
Other special dining experiences worth building a 2024 vacation around include Tellers, an Italian eatery inside The National Hotel in Oklahoma City. Once the First National Bank, today it’s a place to enjoy luscious pasta while sitting in restored original teller booths. Similarly, you can dine in a renovated train factory in Montreal’s Hoogan et Beaufort, where architects preserved the history of the building while creating an inviting space for meals. And in Rhode Island, dine inside a Hobbit house straight out of “Lord of the Rings.”
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8. Enjoy wine instead of whining kids
While you have to be 21 years of age to drink wine, wineries are opening their doors to kids with fun activities from cider tastings to cornhole toss. The relaxed atmosphere that tends to come with wine tasting can be ideal for visitors of all ages as long as the kiddos have something to do.
All of Traverse City, Michigan’s 50 wineries welcome children. Black Star Farms in Sutton Bay has a herd of goats, horses, hiking trails, an outdoor patio, plus organic apple cider. Seasonal sleigh rides and brunch with Santa are a hit with families. Washington State’s Walla Walla Valley is another respected viticulture region, and at family-owned Woodward Canyon Winery, kids can play lawn games while parents taste.
In Northern California, your whole family can enjoy the Napa Valley Wine Train. If staying on terra firma is more your style, nearby Sonoma’s Cline Cellars offers not only delicious wines but also opportunities for kids to feed the koi, birds, and goats; it’s also home to a California Mission Museum with scaled models of the California missions, so kids can have a learning opportunity while you enjoy your wine. Further south in Paso Robles on the Central California Coast, Sculpterra Winery’s sculpture garden, giant kaleidoscope, and table tennis will keep kids occupied while parents sip and savor.
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9. Avoid the crowds at state parks
There are nearly 4,000 state parks scattered across the United States, many of them offering excellent recreational facilities and pristine beauty. The two things state parks often lack? Big crowds and big prices. State parks are often extremely affordable hidden gems. I’ve learned that not all of North America’s beauty resides in the bigger and busier national parks, and you can usually find a great state park within an hour of most urban centers.
In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a family favorite with 60,000 acres of old-growth forest, waterfalls, and miles of trails. Camping, fishing, disc golf, mountain biking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are recreational possibilities.
New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch State Park sit on the shores of Echo Lake and is just an hour’s drive from Concord. With boating, fishing, swimming, and views of Cannon Mountain, this state park is a scenic delight.
At Florida’s Cayo Costa State Park, you cam make like Robinson Crusoe. This secluded island state park is accessible only by boat, but once you’re there and pay $2 entry fee you’ll find an undeveloped shoreline and a rich array of marine life and shorebirds.
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10. Finally get a good night’s sleep on vacation
Parents know the saying “sleep like a baby” can be misleading. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to your family’s well-being, but it can be tough to achieve when you’re in a new environment. In 2024, many hotels will be prioritizing the intersection of sleep and hospitality.
At the hip Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles, the Rest and Recovery Suite aims to induce slumber with a pillow menu, mattress with an adjustable thermostat, and eco-friendly earplugs. In New York, buck the “City That Never Sleeps” label with a restorative sleep bed by Bryte at the Park Hyatt. At Lake Nona Wave Hotel in Orlando, there’s a resident sleep expert to guide you toward better rest after a day spent enjoying any of the many Orlando theme parks.
10 new travel trends that will shape your vacations in 2024 originally appeared onFamilyVacationist.com.
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