August Family Travel Guide

Santa Cruz CA
Learn to surf next to the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk (Photodisc)

Boundary Waters, Minnesota
Maybe it's the 1,000,000-plus acres of seemingly endless wilderness with a whopping 1,200 miles of canoeable waters through countless lakes, rivers, and ponds that gets paddlers all dreamy-eyed over Minnesota's northern frontier, the Boundary Waters. Go days without seeing another person, replaced by moose, whitetail deer, black bears, beavers, otters, and those laughing loons. Wilderness Outfitters in the border town of Ely have been helping people get away from civilization since 1912. They also offer canoes and maps for self-guided trips.

Santa Cruz, California
Named after founder Ed Guzman, Club Ed has been teaching the fine art of surfing for almost 15 years from their home base in Santa Cruz, California. Kids over 9 can take courses with their parents or try it on their own. A typical day in the weeklong camp features breakfast on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, then a morning session of two to three hours in the water. Throughout the session, guides will be shouting instructions like "this is a good wave, you can catch it," or, "paddle right." Then it's back to the beach for a critique of how you did that day. Try not to embarrass yourself in front of the kid. That wouldn't be cool.

Miami Beaches
Miami's Haulover Beach and Crandon Park are the places to be on August and September evenings. And not just for that ocean breeze. For three dollars, visitors can help sea turtle hatchlings safely make it to the surf. Do your part and help the little critters go for their first swim.
(; 305.947.3525)

Holland America Family Cruises
One of the fastest growing trends in the travel business is family cruising. Holland America Line attracts more than 25,000 kids and their families aboard its 13 ships each year. In summer, one of the world's premier cruising grounds is Alaska. Sit back on one of Holland America's luxury vessels as it glides through the Inside Passage, and you might spot whales breaching, bald eagles hunting, bears foraging, and salmon spawning. Trips originate from Seattle and Vancouver.

Buffalo, New York
Once upon a time, two guys named Fisher and Price started a toy company in East Aurora, New York. The Toy Town Museum showcases the works of these two imaginative minds and, for three days in late August, hosts ToyFest. More than 100,000 people in the Buffalo area make their way to Toy Town to take part in the parade, antique toy show, and kids' rides in the park. Definitely take time to tour the Museum, where parents will have just as much fun as their children playing with toys from their youth.

Lake George, New York
With numerous taffy and fudge shops, three video arcades, a giant T-Rex at Goony Golf miniature golf course, the Great Escape amusement park, and, lest we forget, a wondrous lake brimming with mountains on both sides, Lake George, New York, was built with the family in mind. Stay in splendor away from the crowds at the lake's premier lodging, The Sagamore. Go for a sail with the resort's Offshore Sailing School and watch movies on the sloping lawn in summer.

Martha's Vineyard
With miles of tantalizing beachfront and a web of bike trails that make it simple to get around, Martha's Vineyard has always been a favorite family retreat. Seven miles off the Massachusetts coast, the Vineyard is also home to the Flying Horses Carousel, a National Historic Landmark that was handcrafted in 1876. Stay at the Winnetu, a short walk from the sublime white sand of South Beach. A short bike ride takes you to the town of Edgartown and to Katama Airfield, where you can eat breakfast and watch the planes take off.

Hastings, Nebraska
It was 1927 when Edwin Perkins created his most famous invention in a Hastings, Nebraska factory. The powdery substance, when mixed with water, would produce a raspberry, cherry, grape, orange, lemon, and root beer flavor. Kool-Aid became a smashing success and to celebrate Mr. Perkins contribution to mankind, the city of Hastings throws a three-day bash in mid-August called Kool-Aid Days. Take part in parades, big-name concerts (like Vince Gill and Richie Havens), and have a drink from the world's largest Kool-Aid stand.

Mendota, Illinois
Central Illinois is known as corn country and the Sweet Corn Festival in Mendota, Illinois, certainly lives up to the name. Last year, the Del Monte Corporation donated 160,000 ears of fresh sweet corn, handed out to visitors for free. If you are still not satisfied, food booths serve corn fritters, corn dogs, and corn bread. Other activities include parades, live music, and games for the kids.

Carcassonne, France
Sure, you can see the in-laws dressed up as knights at the local fairground and call it a Medieval Festival. Or you can experience the real deal. During the first three weeks of August, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Carcassonne, France, plays host to jousting matches, singing troubadours, and acrobatics. But the main attraction is this13th-century walled-in fortress that should be on every family's list of must-sees.

Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at

Published: 26 Apr 2007 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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