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Call of the Wild: Adventure Vacations for Families

Block Island, Albuquerque, the Florida Keys, and Jackson Hole Biking on Block Island
Biking on Block Island

The destination: Block Island offers beachfront, nature trails, and quaint shops and eateries.
The adventure: In this biker's haven, rolling hills connect fields to beaches. The high-speed ferry from Point Judith (one hour from Providence, Rhode Island) brings you to Block Island's main harbor ($10.60 adults, $5.20 children). From there, walk to your hotel and ask about bike rentals; a full-day rental is about $12. For info: 401-364-9124.
Don't miss: Climb up Mohegan Bluffs, then ascend to the lantern room of the Southeast Lighthouse for a view of the waves crashing below (
Where to stay: The National is in the center of town. Rooms for four from $309 (

Hot Air Ballooning in Albuquerque
Hot Air Ballooning in Albuquerque
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Rainbow Ryders

The destination: With a rich history, excellent food, world-renowned arts and cultural institutions, and about 310 days of sunshine a year, Albuquerque is guaranteed to keep everyone -- even a hard-to-please teenager -- happy.
The adventure: Albuquerque is the hot air ballooning capital of the world because of the "Albuquerque box," the unique weather and wind patterns created by the high mountains and river valley. Take off with Rainbow Ryders for a flight above the Rio Grande River and next to the Sandia Mountains. A one-and-a-half-hour ride costs $170 for adults and $110 for kids. For info: 800-725-2477 or Then visit the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum ($4 adults, $1 children;
Don't miss: Wind through the Pueblo-Spanish architecture of Albuquerque's Old Town, whose galleries feature works by Native American and Southwestern artists. Browse the locally owned shops selling handcrafted jewelry. For info: 800-733-9918 or
Where to stay: The 146-room Nativo Lodge has decorative touches like Native American carpets and rugs, dream catchers and a tepee alongside the pool. Rates start at $39. For info: 888-628-4861 or

Snorkeling in the Florida Keys
Snorkeling in the Florida Keys

The destination: The Florida Keys island chain comprises complex ecosystems -- and its residents are passionate about preserving the area's beauty.
The adventure: Go snorkeling in the shallow, clear waters of the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. Board the catamaran at the Looe Key Reef Resort & Dive Center and explore a pristine coral reef teeming with schools of fish and sea turtles (snorkeling is $40 for adults, $30 for kids). For info: 800-LOOEKEY.
Don't miss: Hike the Mannillo Nature Trail in the National Key Deer Refuge. For info: 305-872-0774.
Where to stay: All rooms at Parmer's Resort on Little Torch Key have porches or decks (from $119). For info: 305-872-2157 or

Rock Climbing in Jackson Hole
Rock Climbing in Jackson Hole
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Mark Fisher

The destination: Known primarily for its skiing, Jackson Hole heats up in the summer with activities like golf, rafting, horseback riding, and rock climbing.
The adventure: The Jackson Hole Mountain Guides & Climbing School has a Kid Rock! program for ages 7 to 10 at Boulder Town in Grand Teton National Park. The seven-hour class covers safety, knots, belaying, and climbing. The school provides the equipment, from helmets to harnesses, but a parent must accompany each child ($100 per person). For info: 800-239-7642 or
Don't miss: Witness cowboys test their calf-roping and bull-riding skills at the Jackson Hole Rodeo (every Wednesday and Saturday evening; $40 family rate includes two adults and all children). For info: 307-733-2805 or
Where to stay: The Best Western Lodge at Jackson Hole has a pool and sauna. Mini-suites start at $249 per night. For info: 800-458-3866 or

Originally published in Family Circle magazine, August 2007.