A Charleston, South Carolina skyline over the Ashley River viewed at night
Older travelers will enjoy visiting historic sites, while the kids will love exploring the aquarium.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fun for All Ages: 7 Places to Travel with Grandparents

Seven Special Stops That Appeal to All Ages

Romantic trips. Kid-friendly trips. Adventurous trips. The travel industry loves to sort people into all sorts of demographic buckets, everything from age and income level to exotic areas of interest and lifestyle-leisure getaways. And you know what? It usually works pretty well.

But there’s at least one kind of group that doesn’t profit from all the demographic gerrymandering, and that’s multigenerational travelers. When grandma and grandpa want to travel the world with their children and grandchildren, how can they find a destination that appeals to all ages and interest levels?

Of course that’s not to say that grandparents can’t keep up with the grandkids — there are plenty of adventure vacations for seniors that the whole family can partake in. And with senior travel tips everything should go as smooth as can be. But if you all have differing interests or skill levels, what vacation destination is best?

Believe it or not, such ports of call exist, and this article details six great international options — as well as one very specific spot that will vary from family to family. Here are the very best places to travel with grandparents.

Charleston, South Carolina

Dubbed the Holy City for its steeple-studded skyline, Charleston, SC, boasts historical sites aplenty. Horse-drawn carriage operators and local guides leading walking tours will happily point out all sorts of culturally significant attractions that have endured the test of time.

Adults should enjoy spying out the Doc Street Theatre (which opened in 1736), the College of Charleston (the 13th oldest American university), Fort Sumter (where the Civil War started) and the Charleston City Market (where sellers have plied their wares since 1804).

Of course, the young often find historical attractions deadly dull. For them, the South Carolina Aquarium beckons with its 5,000 animals. The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry combines hands-on art with a miniature medieval castle and antique 1939 fire truck. Then there’s always the area beaches, where you can rent kayaks, go crabbing or enjoy a nature tour.

A winding mountain trail at autumn in ColoradoEveryone will love embracing their wild side at the Lost Valley Ranch.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sedalia, Colorado

Plugging “Sedalia” into your search engine of choice might leave you scratching your head as to why it’s on this list. Aside from a wildlife refuge in Keenesburg, the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden and some strikingly scenic drives, this unincorporated area in Northwest Colorado doesn’t seem to have a lot to offer multigenerational travel groups.

But the craggy mountain ranges in this particular corner of the Centennial State are home to a number of excellent family-friendly dude ranches — one of the best being Lost Valley Ranch.

Situated high in Sedalia’s pine-covered hills, Lost Valley Ranch serves up a truly Western experience that’s just as adventurous as you want it to be. Whitewater rafting and trap shooting. Cattle round-ups and backcountry horseback trailblazing. Fly fishing and hiking. Or you could simply soak your weary bones in the Olympic-sized pool or relax with an in-cabin massage.

What’s more, tailored programs for children 2 years old all the way to older teens ensure that the kids won’t be bored.

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Malta's Valletta skyline waterfront at sunsetDive into adventures and delve into history.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Malta

Like Charleston, Malta has a rich history — one that goes back an impressive 2,400 years. And, yes, vacationers in their later years will particularly enjoy the 16th-century Grand Master’s Palace, the ancient Greek burial grounds known as the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum and St. Paul’s Cathedral, which sits on the site where the titular apostle once visited.

Younger members of your party will probably appreciate adventure more than hoary sites, and Malta has it in spades. Diving opportunities abound, and thanks to the mild climate, your party can suit up any time of the year. Cycling near Dingli Cliffs offers a unique way to see the island, although you should keep your eyes peeled for cars since there aren’t any bike lanes.

Better yet, charter a boat and go swimming in Crystal Lagoon or Blue Lagoon. Or try your hand at spelunking in Calypso Cave, a cavern once thought to feature in “The Odyssey.”


Mountains with beautiful sunset sky in Flagstaff, Arizona during monsoon rains and fire seasonFrom the Grand Canyon to ropes courses, there's something for the whole family in Flagstaff.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Flagstaff, Arizona

When traveling in the western United States, rock-and-roll pioneer Chuck Berry urged motorists to “get your kicks on Route 66.” You know what? His suggestion still holds true, particularly when it comes to Flagstaff, AZ, an easy stop off of the so-called Main Street of America.

Though relatively small, Flagstaff has plenty of charms, as does the surrounding area. Easy access to the Grand Canyon is an obvious plus (especially because you can find an exciting whitewater rafting trip down the Grand Canyon that suits all fitness levels), but less famous attractions offer just as much bang for the buck. Lowell Observatory lets visitors peer into the depths of the heavens with high-powered telescopes.

Thrill-seekers will love the rope courses at Flagstaff Extreme, while animal lovers can laugh along with various ursine antics at the appropriately named Bearizona nature park.

Adults who want a more laid-back experience will enjoy strolling through historic downtown, visiting the Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum, and photographing the blooms at The Arboretum at Flagstaff.

Sea lions doze along the beach in Monterey, CaliforniaBook a sailboat cruise or play a game of golf.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Monterey, California

Like Flagstaff, California’s “First City” offers travelers activities at any desired speed. Want a tranquil view of the bay? Book a sailboat cruise and spy out sea lions and harbor seals. Hoping to kick your activities into second gear? Tee off at Pebble Beach, one of the world’s most celebrated (and pricey) golf courses.

Yearning to put the pedal to the metal? Laguna Seca Raceway lets you see Formula One and motorcycle racing.

You get the idea — from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve to picturesque Cannery Row (which featured in Steinbeck’s novel of the same name), anyone and everyone can find something to love in Monterey, making this destination ideal when it comes to family vacation ideas with grandparents.

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Downtown Street View of Banff, Alberta, CanadaLooking for an active adventure in the backcountry? Or perhaps taking a soak in a hot spring is more your style.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Banff, Alberta, Canada

Combining rugged nature with abundant indoor activities and a touch of high-end luxury, Banff is something of an oxymoron. A multigenerational group can strike out on one of nearby Lake Louise’s lengthy backcountry hikes, embark on a multi-day horse ride and fly fish in a glacier-fed lake.

But those who think that itinerary sounds too stressful might strike out on a drive along the Icefields Parkway, ride the Banff Gondola and soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs.

There are plenty of affordable accommodations around the area, but The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel combines utter luxury with jaw-dropping views of Banff National Park. Indeed, the scenery is so gorgeous that its easy to see why this stretch of the Canadian Rockies was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Photo of grandfather and his grandchildren in the parkVisit somewhere close to your family's roots.Photo Credit: Getty Images

A Hometown Area of Special Significance

My final suggestion for places to visit with grandparents might not have any restaurants with Michelin stars or be featured in any AAA travel guides. And what area may that be? Why, a family member’s hometown, an old stomping ground that has served as the backdrop for your family’s lives and love over generations.

Honestly, old family stomping grounds don’t necessarily make for the most thrilling travel, but they can be incredibly significant. Staying under the roof where a grandparent was born, seeing the school where a parent studied, congregating at an old place of worship — these experiences bind generations together in ways that can’t be replicated anyplace else.

If this is something you’ve done before, why not hearken back to even earlier stomping grounds? Genealogy travel will allow your family to travel back to the home of your ancestors, giving you the chance to explore somewhere new but that has special significance to your family.

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