Skip-gen trips, in which grandkids travel with their grandparents but without their parents – thus skipping a generation – require careful planning, as they need to appeal to both the grandparents and children. Grandparents yearn for disconnected, low-key fun with their grandchildren, while kids have more of an appetite for playing and exploring their environments.
If you choose the right family vacation spot and plan appropriately, both desires can commingle seamlessly. Where do you begin? These standout skip-gen destinations offer plenty to get the whole gang excited.
Utah is home to five national parks, making the state an ideal choice for active grandparents and grandkids. Moab’s central location serves as a stepping stone for family-friendly activities and not one but two of the national parks: Arches National Park and Canyonlands (Island in the Sky district).
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Dinosaur lovers will get a kick out of seeing tracks on the Mill Canyon trail and petroglyphs along scenic Potash Road. Moab Giants, an open-air dinosaur theme park, and the Moab Museum are sure to inspire budding paleontologists.
Palm Beach, Florida
Palm Beach is perfect for those who want to feel worlds away while enjoying some beach time, pampering and low-key adventure. Downtown and its famed Worth Avenue are rich in history, easily walkable (or bikeable) and surrounded by opportunities to explore nature above or below the water.
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Highlights throughout the area include internationally acclaimed snorkeling and scuba-diving sites; Lion Country Safari, a drive-through safari and walk-through amusement park; and vast, untarnished beaches.
Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota
Seeing Mount Rushmore is enough of a reason for grandparents to take their grandkids to South Dakota. Beyond the iconic national memorial, this sliver of America’s Heartland is chock-full of fun and educational experiences.
Make sure not to rush your time at Mount Rushmore. For the best experience, join a free ranger program to learn more about the history (reservations required), then tack on a visit to Rushmore Tramway Adventures park, which features an alpine slide, scenic chairlift, zip line and more.
The Blue Ridge Mountains town of Helen flaunts an alpine design that was part of an economic revival in the late 1960s. As kitschy as it might sound, Helen provides a taste of the real Deutschland, with several authentic restaurants and import shops, as well as nods to the culture through traditional German festivals.
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Grandparents will appreciate the town’s easy walkability, tranquil scenery overlooking the Chattahoochee River and proximity to light adventures such as Anna Ruby Falls park. Kiddos will be drawn to activities such as touring a candy factory and riding on the Georgia Mountain Coaster.
A capital city with a small-town feel, Boston offers more than enough to entertain grandparents and their grandchildren – including a handful of bucket-list experiences.
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Skip-gen travelers can catch a baseball game at Fenway Park, learn about America’s beginnings on the Freedom Trail and chow down on local delicacies such as clam chowder, lobster rolls and cannolis. Boston’s intimate downtown makes it easy to get around by foot, although its intuitive metro and ferry systems make sightseeing a breeze. Public transportation can take you to nearby sites such as Salem and Cape Ann.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Step foot onto Mackinac Island, situated between the state’s upper and lower peninsulas, and you’ll immediately feel like you’re in another century. Automobiles were banned from the island in the late 1800s, which has helped preserve its historic charm. Most visitors arrive by ferry, which is all part of the experience.
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Mackinac Island shines as a place to pique kids’ curiosities and appreciation for all things old-fashioned. Kids and grandparents alike will enjoy taking in the town by horse-drawn carriage or on horseback while touring the Revolutionary War history at Fort Mackinac, which houses a dedicated kids’ quarter.
No trip is complete without a visit to the Grand Hotel. A nominal entrance fee gets you onto the property, where you can wander the interior and grounds, grab ice cream at the parlor and kick back on the 660-foot porch, the longest in the world.
Grand County, Colorado
From easy walking trails and a mountaintop beach to hot springs reminiscent of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, Colorado’s Grand County beckons grandparents and grandchildren to disconnect, recharge and make memories.
Once you reach Grand County (less than two hours from Denver), you’ll have everything at your fingertips – in every season. Grand Lake, Colorado’s largest natural body of water, is a popular retreat in the warmer months. Trails and rivers abound with activities for every level, including slow-paced eddies on the Upper Colorado River that allow travelers to pause and soak up some of the best views in the state.
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For snow lovers, it’s hard to beat Grand County’s slopes for skiing, snowboarding and tubing. Need to soothe your muscles after a day of adventuring? Check out Hot Sulfur Springs for a true Colorado natural spa experience.
Coronado Island, California
The best way to start your journey is with an island tour, either by foot or Segway or aboard a trolley from San Diego. On these tours, you’ll discover hidden gems you want to revisit while collecting fun facts about the island, such as its enchanting Wizard of Oz history.
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Families can embark on a one-of-a-kind sightseeing tour such as a Venice-inspired gondola cruise through the canals of the Coronado Cays. Golf carts and bikes can be rented to explore the town, made safe by the island-wide 25-mph speed limit.
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