Tired of hearing about vacations to London and Paris? Want to make your next family vacation unique and unforgettable? Below are some examples of destinations that are well off the beaten pass and should not be missed.
Halfway between Norway and the North Pole lies the archipelago of Svalbard. Adventure awaits those willing to see one of the most remote yet most beautiful places on the planet. Longyearbyen is the northernmost town in the world on the main island of Spitsbergen. No roads connect the other settlements so the only way to get around is by snowmobile, dog-sled, boat, or by plane or helicopter.
With over 60% of Svalbard covered in glaciers, the icy terrain surrounds you with breathtaking beauty from the icy mountains to the cavernous fjords to the glacial walls breaking off into the sea, Svalbard offers adventure all year round. Between May and August there are 24 hours of daylight and Svalbard becomes the land of the midnight sun. Between November and February there are 24 hours of darkness and the sky is dominated by the otherworldly Northern Lights dancing across the horizon in magical shades of blue, green, and pink. With over a population of around 3000 there are sometimes more polar bears than humans in Svalbard.
Witness polar bear cubs playing on ice slides, follow the return of thousands of migratory birds to the bird cliffs in the fjords. Marvel at walruses and seals molting on the ice floes in the summer. Kayak and canoe among whales and seals, ride snowmobiles among reindeer, cross-country ski to the northernmost hike in the world. Marvel at the enveloping majesty of such a remote and desolate location. Longyearbyen has comfortable resorts and has many companies ready to take you and your family on any type of trip that you can possibly dream.
San Juan Islands
Nestled in the beautiful Pacific Northwest lie the enchanted San Juan Islands. World class sailing and boating present themselves to anyone who ventures two hours north of Seattle. Experience the amazing contrast between the mighty Pacific Ocean and the rugged verdant forests that drape the San Juans.
Whale watching tours are a must in the summer and are among the best in the world. Sea orcas, humpbacks, seals, and more feeding on the migrating salmon populations. Enjoy scenic Chuckanut Drive, a winding road carved into the cliffs that hug the coastline and offer amazing views of some of the most picturesque islands in the world.
While not as exotic as others on this list, the San Juans are not to be missed, they are to be experienced.
Dramatic craggy mountains, tranquil beech forests, Lord of the Rings and more await to be discovered by you and your family down under. Separated into two islands, North and South, New Zealand packs an incredibly diverse assortment of beauty in a comparably small place. New Zealand is the only country to have every single biome on earth, from tropical rainforests to arid deserts, volcanoes to beautiful beaches and cities.
Explore Milford Sound on the South Island by kayak, heavily featured in Lord of the Rings and kayak through the misty fjord through some unforgettable scenery. Fiordland National Park is the largest of New Zealand’s national parks and experience the verdant beauty of the mountain forests and alpine streams. On the North Island there is the Togariro Crossing, known as the world’s greatest day hike for good reason. Climb a live volcano and then descend into lush native forests with amazing views of the appropriately named Emerald Lakes
Whether it is the adventure of Svalbard, the serenity of the San Juans, or the majesty of New Zealand, all these locations offer unforgettable sights and are well worth the visit. Family friendly and accessible, the only limit is having the courage to stray off the beaten vacation track.