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End the traveling teenage blues



Do your teens dread family vacations? All you hear is moaning and groaning whenever you mention spending some quality family time together?

If this sounds like your family, you might want to check out a few places that will make your kids want to turn off their iPods and tune into the family vacation experience. These adventures might even make your teens look forward to family vacations!

Is your family itching for some sea adventures?
If you only have a day, take a trip to Kingston and the Hudson River Maritime Museum. There you can catch a ride on the Indy and enjoy a boat ride over to the Rondout Lighthouse. Inside the lighthouse are period furnishings and exhibits detailing the history of the lighthouse. It is the largest and last family-owned lighthouse in the area, built in 1915. Climb up to the top and you can watch river barges, look for swans, and take in a beautiful view of the Hudson River. Have a picnic at the waterfront park or try one of several restaurants on Broadway suitable for children.

Do you have a budding artist in the family?
If so, don’t miss the sculpture garden at Storm King Art Center in Mountainville. On the center’s 500 acres of fields and rolling hills are more than 120 larger-than-life, abstract sculptures for all ages to explore. Connecting these enormous sculptures are 20 miles of marked trails so you can go for a walk and enjoy the scenery. You’ll know the excursion is a hit if your teen snaps some photos on her camera phone to send to her friends.

The Art Center also holds plenty of family outings, events, lectures, hikes, and outdoor concerts. Self-guided as well as guided tours are available.

Does your teen like to be active?
If your teen is up for a challenge, consider a whitewater adventure. North of Saratoga Springs, in the Adirondacks, are several whitewater rafting groups that take adventure seekers down the Hudson, Black, Moose or Sacandaga rivers. Each company offers slightly different packages, but most tours last 3-4 hours and include lunch during a stopping point on the river.

At Whitewater Challengers in North River in the Adirondacks guests don a life jacket and helmet (and a wetsuit in the spring and fall months) and pick out a paddle. They then board a bus for a short trip to the starting point, slide the raft into the water and off they go. Before and during the trip professional guides instruct adventurers on how to paddle as well as safety measures should the raft overturn. Whitewater Challengers also offers a barbecue dinner at the end of the tour. The minimum age for participants in most rafting excursions is 16 in early spring (when the current is faster), 14 in late spring, and 10 during the summer and fall.

Have an outdoorsy family?
Visit Cragsmoor in Ulster County and go to Sam’s Point Dwarf Pine Ridge Preserve, where you can explore real ice caves. These “marvels of geology” are deep crevices where cold air and snow has been trapped from the winter months, causing ice to form. Ice and snow can be seen even into late summer! It’s a bit of an uphill hike to the caves, but well worth the effort, with a gorgeous view as your reward.

Families can also hike to Verkeerderkill Falls, the highest waterfall in the Shawangunk Mountain chain. Along the hike, notice the dwarf pine barren and keep an eye out for 40 different types of plants and animals. Even if your kids aren’t strong hikers, this is a great spot for teen explorers.

Is your teen looking for a real discovery?
They may not want to show it, but kids will love exploring Howe Caverns, located in Schoharie County between Albany and Cooperstown. Howe Caverns is a limestone cave reaching 156 feet below the Earth’s surface, carved out by an underground river over the course of 6 million years.

Learn the difference between stalagmites and stalactites, take a boat ride on an underground lake, see real limestone formations and fossils, and explore various cave “rooms.” Don’t forget to bring a light jacket for your tour. The caves maintain a cool 52 degrees year-round. Just minutes from Howe Caverns (on the same road, in fact) is the Iroquois Indian Museum, where kids will learn about the history of these indigenous peoples. There are also trails for kids who would prefer to explore the outdoors as well.

Are you traveling with both teens and younger children?
Then you have the added challenge of finding a place that will keep everyone engaged. Consider a weekend at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz. You’ll be surrounded by acres of woods and fields with a picture-perfect view of Lake Mohonk.

While Mom and Dad go hiking, the little ones can choose to create some art, have sing-alongs, play, have story-time, go on “furry friend” hikes, or ride a pony.

Children aged four to six can go hiking, hunt for frogs, swim, or make arts and crafts. Seven to twelve-year-olds can go rock scrambling, play tennis or golf, and participate in all different sports tournaments as well as orienteering and team building.

The older kids, ages twelve to eighteen, can enjoy mountain biking, day-long hikes, rock scrambles, and golf and tennis clinics.

At night, teens can hang out at the Teen Lounge where they can listen to music, watch movies, play games, and make new friends. Not only can families bond at Mohonk Mountain House, kids and teens have the opportunity to hang out with kids their own age.

Parents know how hard it can be to please a teen, but these vacation spots are sure to leave a smile on everyone’s face. For other ideas, check out our Travel Guide.