Once upon a time, a swimming pool and a kids menu were as far as most hotels went to cater to young travelers. Today, hotels and resorts around the world recognize that children and their parents seek enriching vacation experiences that they can’t get at home.
The days when crayons and a coloring book at check-in satisfied are long gone. Savvy young vacationers crave out-of-the-box, hands-on experiences that dive into local culture. Hotels are raising the bar, going way beyond the traditional kids club.
Here are 10 amazing, immersive experiences that can be found at hotels.
Beekeeping at Carmel Valley Ranch
Carmel Valley Ranch is a 500-acre resort nestled in a patchwork of gardens, vineyards and hiking trails. The ranch is home to its own apiary with thousands of Italian honeybees.
Explore numerous aspects of beekeeping – from hive science to honey tasting – when you join A Bee’s Life. This 90-minute class starts at the organic garden where you’ll learn about the connection between plants and pollinators. Next, suit up in protective gear and head to the apiary to watch the bees in action before you dig into the luscious honey.
Dog sledding at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge
Wintergreen is a rustic lodge and a gateway to the scenic Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Guests stay in lakeshore lodges connected by snow-dusted trails. After a hearty breakfast, participants of all ages bundle up and learn to drive a team of Canadian Inuit dogs under the guidance of experienced instructors.
For those who love animals, there are plenty of opportunities to feed and care for the 65 resident pups.
Horse whispering at The Resort at Paws Up
Paws Up is a luxury property planted on 37,000 acres of an authentic working cattle ranch. You can join a professional wrangler and step into the pen with a wild mustang in Horse Whisperer 101. The goal is to establish trust with the horse through appropriate demeanor, voice modulation and subtle movement.
The program is offered throughout the summer months.
Cricket at Crystal Cove by Elegant Hotels
Crystal Cove is an 88-room hotel on Barbados’ Platinum Coast. The island was a British colony for several hundred years, gaining independence in 1966. Even after generations of autonomy, locals maintain some very British traditions, including a passion for cricket.
Those who vacation here have the opportunity to learn to play cricket on the resort’s sandy beach. The friendly staff is on hand to teach the basics during regularly scheduled games. You’ll be swinging a bat like an islander in no time.
Surfing at the Hotel del Coronado
San Diego, California
The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego has been hosting travelers at its beachside location for over a century.
For those who dream of hanging ten, the resort offers both group and private surf lessons. Surfboards and wet suits are even included. It’s a coastal plunge that’s straight out of a Beach Boys song.
Organic gardening at the Woodstock Inn & Resort
The Woodstock Inn sits in the middle of a quaint New England village. A short distance from the inn is the certified organic Kelly Way Gardens. Master Gardener Benjamin Pauly grows heirloom vegetables, 60 varieties of tomatoes and edible flowers, supplying the inn’s kitchen with just-picked ingredients.
In summer, guests can nibble their way through the garden with the Master Gardener himself during the Family Tasting Tour. It’s a hands-on opportunity for children to connect with their food source.
Falconry at Sea Island, Georgia
Sea Island is a private resort island off the Georgia coast, surrounded by an Atlantic beach and a salt marsh. It’s a serene setting to learn about falconry, the ancient art of training hawks to hunt.
The hour-long Hawk Walk allows participants to feel the sensation of a bird of prey perched on a gloved fist. These trained-but-still-wild creatures possess incredible strength yet are deceptively lightweight. It’s a fine introduction to this nuanced activity that can take a lifetime of dedication to perfect.
Train dolphins at Hawks Cay Resort
Duck Key, Florida
Hawks Cay is a vacation haven midway down the chain of Keys. Several Atlantic bottlenose dolphins call this Florida resort home.
Budding marine biologists and junior animal behaviorists shouldn’t miss the Dolphin Trainer for a Day program. Guests work alongside professional trainers, caring for and learning to communicate with these intelligent mammals in their natural environment.
Participate in a traditional tea ceremony at Hotel Gajoen
In Japan, the tea ceremony is more than just a beverage, it’s a window into the cultural.
The art-filled Hotel Gajoen in Tokyo’s residential Meguro neighborhood hosts an authentic tea ceremony each afternoon. The tea-maker’s meticulous care and thoughtful preparation is paramount to the guest experience.
The kimono-clad hostess encourages youngsters to ask questions as she explains how this venerable ritual is rooted in the country’s history. Traditional sweets accompany the tea, making it as mouthwatering as it is fascinating.
Fly fishing at Vermejo, Ted Turner Reserves
Raton, New Mexico
Vermejo is a 550,000-acre outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Hundreds of mammals roam freely; it’s not unusual to spot wild horses, bald eagles, bison, elk and more.
Guests have their choice of numerous fresh-air experiences in this spectacular setting, with fishing being one of the most popular. The reserve’s 19 fishable lakes and 30 miles of pristine streams make it a special place to learn fly fishing and deep nymph skills from expert instructors.
10Best is a part of the USA TODAY Network, providing an authentically local point of view on destinations around the world, in addition to travel and lifestyle advice.
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