Family Travel

Family Travel Experiences Catering to Your Kid’s Latest Obsession, From Dinosaur Digs to Rocket Launches

Plan a vacation that lets your young ones live out their ultimate fantasies.
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Children often have big dreams. Some obsess over blasting off to space; others, swimming with mermaids, zooming around a NASCAR speedway, or unearthing dinosaur bones in a far-off cave. For all of your kids’ fixations, there’s a family vacation to match. If you plan a family trip that lets your young ones live out their ultimate fantasies, you’re giving them the ultimate gift: tapping into their truest desires and planting a seed for them to grow up and make those ambitions come to life. And when it comes to travel, that’s the ultimate dream.

Here’s how to pull off a family vacation catered to the current (or upcoming) interests of your child, a trip that is sure to impress, and entertain, everyone in the family—all while allowing your kids to tap into their obsessions.

Rocket ships in Florida

Little astronauts will love blasting off to Florida’s space coast, where U.S. space travel began in the 1960s. Along 72 miles of pristine coastline, anchored by Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, and Port Canaveral, families can witness a live rocket launch and then go straight to mission control at the Kennedy Space Center, where they can get up close to Space Shuttle Atlantic (and even have lunch with an real-life astronaut). When it’s time to come back to planet earth, there are also surf lessons, unspoiled beaches, and a trip to the Brevard Zoo to frolic with mammals, sea creatures, and other earthlings.

A rocket in the Kennedy Space Center's Apollo/Saturn V Center

Florida Space Coast Office of Tourism

NASCAR racing at sea

If your kiddo feels the need for speed, then consider trading the roadway for the sea. That’s right: Board a cruise with Norwegian Prima to take part in Prima Speedway, a racetrack at sea that offers a nautical NASCAR experience for drivers of all ages. It’s the world’s first three-level go-kart racetrack on a ship, and it provides little drivers with all the thrills they need to imagine themselves right into the fast lane at the Indy 500: race car engine revs, the crank of shifting gears, and the wind—okay, the ocean breeze—in their hair.

Cooking classes in Mexico, South Africa, or Paris 

So your little one has cooked up a fantasy of one day winning Top Chef. Help them tap into that delicious dream with pizza-making and other cooking courses with award-winning Chef Juan Pablo Loza at the Rosewood Mayakoba, offered as part of the Rosewood Explorers family fun program. In Paris, your petit patissier can learn how to bake French bread and croissants with Sophibee Family Travel, which offers a multi-city European tour designed for families with kids of all ages, from toddler to teen. And in South Africa at the One&Only Cape Town, children who sign up for a sushi-making seminar get hands-on lessons from Nobu alumni chefs, as well as personalized aprons and chef hats. It’s enough to make you want to pack your knives and stay.

The Rosewood Explorers family program 

Ken Hayden

Anime and manga across Japan

Japanese animation and its cousin, the Japanese comic book style called manga, have become wildly popular with American teens and tweens. If your clan is newly dedicated to all things kawaii (cute), consider an immersive ten-night manga and anime trip from InsideJapan Tours that also ties in the most iconic destinations in the Land of the Rising Sun, from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka. The trip will bring to life the best of Japan, both on and off the page, with stops at sites including Kyoto’s Gion geisha district, Osaka’s Universal Studios, Tokyo's famous shopping in Shinjuku, and anime and manga attractions, like the Studio Ghibli Museum.

Dinosaur digging in Utah

Buckle up, pint-sized paleontologists. The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway, a 512-mile loop that stretches around Utah and Colorado, is considered the best place in the world to study dinosaurs, and also a prime location for some truly Jurassic-sized fun. The highway is dotted with active quarries where paleontologists continue to unearth dinosaur bones, and other ideal road-trip stops include the Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum, which has its own digging room that the whole family can take a shovel to; the 200,000-acre Dinosaur National Monument, where 1,500 dinosaur fossils are on full display; and Dinosaur Tracks Trail, a hiking trail that allows you to actually walk in the footsteps of giants. After a day of T-rex tracking, unwind with roasted marshmallows and glamping at Under Canvas Moab, which sits at the gateway to Arches National Park.

Pictographs at Utah's Dinosaur National Monument

Topher Donahue/Getty

Wildlife spotting in Texas

Many children are drawn to cuddly creatures, and for the aspiring zookeeper or veterinarian, a visit to La Cantera San Antonio will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not only does the luxe resort and spa have its own arcade and a dedicated shuttle to Six Flags, it also has a partnership with Zoomagination, a nonprofit focused on animal advocacy. Every Saturday, youngsters on the resort can meet their favorite sloths, snakes, and other creatures who have been rescued through Zoomagination’s efforts. At La Cantera’s kids’ club, they can also take part in a naturalist program, which includes an interactive notebook they can use to track their animal sightings around the resort.

Mermaid experiences in Georgia, California, or Anguilla

For children whose imaginations remain captivated by mermaids, options abound: In Georgia, the pool at Jekyll Island Club Resort transforms every Wednesday into a lagoon for kids and sea queens to splash and play with mermaids. In California, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach offers a mermaid tail rental and a swim lesson with a real live mermaid. Meanwhile at Zemi Beach House in Anguilla, there’s a mermaid training school, teaching swimming and snorkeling skills while sporting a mermaid tail and going on underwater treasure hunts.