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A Guide to the Best Family Vacations

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By Jenny Weiss Baldwin

The sun is warming the season and the kids are out of school. This can mean only one thing … summer vacation is right around the corner. Don't know where you want to escape to for some fun in the sun this year? Whether you”re looking for a weekend trip close to home or a one of a kind vacation a bit farther away, there is an endless list of destinations just waiting for you and your family.

Here are some of our favorites…

Beaches of South Walton, Florida
Beaches of South Walton is the ultimate destination for the family wanting some fun in the sun. Beaches of South Walton is located in the Florida panhandle and is comprised by 13 unique beach communities. Aside from the beautiful beaches where visitors play Frisbee in the sand, lay out, build sand castles and play in the sparkling, emerald-green ocean, there are also many fun activities to keep parents and children busy outside of the water.

Beaches of South Walton offers a comprehensive children”s program at the WaterColor community called Camp WaterColor. This program has its own playground, craft room, game room, stage, amphitheater and more. Kids stay busy kayaking, participating in scavenger hunts and even taking cooking classes.

If you are looking for a destination that promotes togetherness, confidence and healthy activity, you”ll love Sandestin Beach & Golf Resort. Visitors to this community enjoy a variety of activities, such as a treasure cruise where families set sail with a fun crew of adventurers and search for a buried treasure. Kids also have the option to take sailing lessons at Baytowne Marina, play miniature golf at Dune”s Putting Course or try their backhand at tennis camp.

When you and the kids are ready to take a break from all of the exciting activities at Beaches of South Walton, grab a banana split from Miss Lucille”s Gossip Parlor at the Village of Baytowne Wharf. This ice-cream shop has its share of delightful treats and offers a relaxing and fun way to unwind from a day in the sun. The shop even has Internet stations set up so patrons can check their e-mail.

Parents can also take their children to the Magnolia and Ivy Tea Room to play dress-up and sip tea. This is an activity that moms and daughters especially can enjoy for a fun girly afternoon out. The tearoom offers children the opportunity to learn tea etiquette and try on antique hats. Sift through old photos and sip tea as you enjoy this special time together.

After resting from the sun, get back out in the rays with your family and rent bikes to go on a leisurely ride through the state parks or travel the historic Highway 30-A which takes you through 10 of the beach communities.

With mouth-watering seafood restaurants, beachside eateries, eclectic shops, turtle walks and of course, the beaches, Beaches of South Walton provides the ideal summer vacation haven for every family.

Grand Canyon West
For families seeking an adventurous and educational vacation experience, soaked with breathtaking sunsets sinking behind luscious canyons, Grand Canyon West is the perfect choice.

While visiting the Grand Canyon, what better place to stay than the Grand Canyon West Ranch? This resort belongs to the Hualapai Indian Tribe who share their private land with guests from around the world, so visitors can join the tribe in experiencing the unique and untouched beauty of the Grand Canyon and its surroundings. The 106,000-acre guest ranch is located approximately 120 miles east of Las Vegas, and 72 miles northwest of Kingman, Arizona. An overnight stay at the ranch includes mouthwatering home-cooked meals as well as innovative lodging opportunities. Guests can choose between staying in an authentic Indian Tipi or inside a pine cabin.

Not only are travelers amazed at the outstanding beauty of the canyons, they al