Vacationing with 3 generations: 3 trip ideas

Planning a vacation with two generations — parents and kids — can be tricky. Planning a vacation with three generations — grandparents, parents and kids — can be daunting. With family get-togethers coming up over the holidays, and some families already planning next year’s trips, here are three first-person stories about different types of multi-generation vacations — a road trip, a house rental and a cruise — as recounted by Associated Press reporters.

—ROAD TRIP:

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of the road trips I took with my grandparents, mother and brother in the 1960s. One year we made a loop through the Pacific Northwest; another year we visited national parks including Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I remember the unreal blue of Crater Lake and the well-thumbed AAA guide that steered us to inexpensive motels.

After my daughter was born, it seemed natural to return to three-generation vacationing. In the last five years my mother, my daughter and I have crisscrossed much of the United States. We’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone — again. We’ve been to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

My mother, a historian as well as the captain of our expeditions, has aimed to balance kid-friendly activities with the historical and cultural attractions she craves. A museum one day, a trail ride the next. It hasn’t always gone smoothly but it’s been fun.

Williamsburg’s 18th-century re-enactments were right up my mother’s cobblestone alley. My daughter was 8 that year and her attention wavered. A brickmaking demonstration interested her more than a tour of the Governor’s Palace. But a promise that the following day would be spent at a water park kept grumbling in check.

We went to Mount Rushmore in 2008. I had not seen it before and was suitably awestruck. My daughter thought it was cool. In planning the trip, my mother had not realized that our stay in South Dakota would coincide with the Sturgis Rally, which attracts hundreds of thousands of motorcycle riders annually.

As we drove through Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota that August it seemed we were the only non-bikers on the road. The restaurants and motels were full of beefy, tattooed men in Sturgis T-shirts. Members of a biker church sold bottled water at a rest stop. They could not have been nicer to us. One of my abiding memories of that trip is my 10-year-old taking turns on the indoor water slide at a hotel in Rapid City with a biker who seemed to enjoy the splashdown as much as she did.

Earlier this year, we visited Tennessee and the Civil War battlefields of Stones River and Shiloh. Exhibits and ranger talks brought wartime heroism to life, though my daughter’s attention, once again, flagged. But she liked the zipline course at Ruby Falls, near Chattanooga, and all of us enjoyed the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, which has a 72.7 percent grade and bills itself as the world’s steepest passenger railway. Families that visit the area should consider staying, as we did, at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, where the lobby is the city’s lovingly restored historic train station and you can eat dinner in a repurposed dining car.

We’ll do another trip next year, destination as yet unplanned. I can’t wait.

By Associated Press Writer Karen Matthews

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—HOUSE RENTAL:

As an American, I’m used to the “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” style of travel, running frenetically from place to place.

But when the British side of the family proposed spending two weeks relaxing on a rustic property outside a small town in Tuscany, I had to confess it sounded idyllic.

We were 20-odd family members and partners, from an 18-month-old to an 87-year-old, coming in from London, New York, Boston, Madrid and the Italian city of Padua.

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