9 Ways To Experience Opal Destinations Through Your Kids
- Across Opal
- Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina
- Lake Placid Lodge
- Sunset Key Cottages
- Florida Gulf Coast
- West Street Hotel
- The Sagamore Resort
- Florida East Coast
- Samoset Resort
There’s no better time than summer to reconnect with your kids and take that family vacation that you’ve been talking about all year. One of the best things about traveling with your little ones? A chance to experience the world in a whole new way – through the wonder and awe of a child.
So, if you’re in the throes of vacation-planning, we’ve rounded up a list of family-friendly to-dos across Opal destinations that will awaken that childlike curiosity. Not only do these intrinsically fun experiences offer major family bonding time, they’re also perfectly lighthearted activities for your kiddos – and your inner kiddos.
FLORIDA EAST COAST + KEYS
1. Explore Nature’s Creatures | Delray Beach, FL
Take a trip down A1A to visit the award-winning Sandoway Discovery Center, where you can learn about Florida’s marine ecosystems and meet some of the animals who call the nearby Atlantic Ocean home. Your kids will love being able to get up close and personal with some of the Discovery Center’s residents, including alligators, stingrays and sharks.
That child-like wonder is infectious. You, too, won’t help but gawk at the ocean’s predators chomping on their breakfast, investigate the colorful corals in a 300-gallon tank, or watch the adorable antics of opposums. What’s more, the center’s exhibits are interactive, educational, and designed to give you a deeper appreciation for the part of the state that lies offshore and beneath the waves.
2. Learn to Set Sail | Treasure Coast, FL
The Treasure Coast area of Florida’s East Coast is laid-back and off the beaten path, and Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa is the perfect location for experiencing its secluded beauty and spending some time in the sun. The barrier island is home to pristine, beautiful Atlantic beaches, and it’s a short drive from Stuart, Florida, named among the top 10 for “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns.”
But these beaches are also home to a number of exhilarating summer camps, programs and lessons for both parents and their tots to enjoy. Take the US Sailing Center’s sailing courses – a multi-day, warm-weather activity which will teach youngsters the basics of getting out on the water. Of course, you’ll soak up the knowledge, too, and share in the excitement of steering a sailboat with easy confidence.
3. Spot the Dolphins! | Key West, FL
Florida’s Southernmost island is all about the aqua, and the crystal-clear, shallow seas surrounding Key West are perfect for snorkeling, sailing, or just bobbing in the water doing nothing at all. Offshore activities are some of the most popular tourist attractions on the island, but Make It So private charters are truly unique.
Their motto is “Specifically focusing on nothing in particular,” which means the Keys are at your request. Set your own time, your own itinerary and whatever else would make your day perfect. The best thing about private charters is that they’re all. about. you. Why will your kids love it? One word: dolphins. And that’s the same reason you will, too. Even adults love spying on everyone’s favorite marine mammals in their natural habitat.
4. Break a Good Sweat | Bolton Landing, NY
Enormous is an understatement; The Rec Center entertainment complex at The Sagamore Resort boasts 10,000 feet of indoor-outdoor activities for the entire family. Head outside for sand volleyball, a playground, horseshoe pit, tennis, or pickleball, or beat the summer heat with indoor baseball, wiffle ball, mini golf and too many more options to list.
Kids are always beckoned to complete the challenge of a rock-climbing wall, or try to beat the grown-ups at a family game of foosball. (There’s even a gaming station for virtual competitors.) Parents can get in a good workout by joining in on the fun, or put their tennis skills to the test outside – all while taking in gorgeous views of the Adirondacks.
5. Zoom Down the Tracks like an Olympian | Lake Placid, NY
Lake Placid has played host to two winter Olympic games – 1932 and 1980. Today, the various Olympic venues (collectively known as the Lake Placid Legacy Sites) are home to events and the chance to walk the same path as world-renown athletes. You can feel the rush of the bobsled, ice skate the Olympic rink, or take in the 360-degree gorgeous views of the surrounding Adirondack mountains.
There are lots of thrill-inducing activities for both you and your kids, from the bobsled experience to luge lessons with a certified instructor to the cliffside mountain coaster – the longest coaster in North America. A gondola ride followed by an elevator to the top of the ski-jump towers will give you a whole new appreciation for the bravery and skill of Olympic athletes.
NEW ENGLAND COAST
6. Revisit your Childhood | Rockport, ME
The Ultimate Backyard is summer, any way you like it. One serious family-friendly reason to visit Samoset Resort? The yard offers a myriad of sports options – from pickle ball to basketball, shuffleboard to badminton, and even lawn games like croquet and horseshoes. You can watch your young explorers exhaust their energy reserves at the playground (think: rope ladders, twisty slides, and so much more), or gather up the whole family for a round of Disc Golf.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the 200,000-gallon zero-entry pool – something the littles and not-so-littles will equally enjoy. Sit courtside or poolside and be as active (or as not active) as you want, all while taking in panoramic views of Penobscot Bay and soaking in the New England summer sun.
7. Get on the Water | Bar Harbor, ME
Have you checked whale-watching off your bucket list? Venture into the waters off the Maine coast, and you may see a variety of species of whales, including humpback, minke or the North Atlantic right whale. If you prefer, book a cruise to see puffins at the lighthouses, seals or one of the area islands. Or, board a lobster boat to take part in a true Maine tradition.
Why you’ll love it: Whales, puffins and lobsters, oh my! Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. offers an abundance of cruise choices, and they’re affordable enough that if you can’t decide, you can take two! Watch your kiddos’ eyes light up when they see one of the ocean’s largest animals come to the surface to take a breath or watch a real, live fisherman at work. We’re willing to bet you’ll be as excited as they are!
FLORIDA GULF COAST
8. Soak up the Ringling Circus Whimsy | Sarasota, FL
Sarasota is the longtime home of the Ringling Circus, and its museum and grounds comprise a visually stunning, interactive delight for the whole family, from costume exhibitions to summer circus performances. The Ringling complex also includes an art museum, bayfront gardens, a theater and the impressive Ca’ d’Zan, the luxurious, opulent home of the Ringlings, “the circus king and his wife.”
As an adult, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy learning the history behind one of the world’s most famous names in circus, and appreciate the thoughtfully curated displays and exhibits. As for the children? Model circus towns, colorful posters, life-size calliopes and the Summer Circus Spectacular will delight and amaze the kids of all ages – and those who’re kiddos at heart, too.
9. Add Play to Beach Time | Naples, FL
The white-sand beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast are often ranked among the best in the country, and Naples is no exception. Sun and fun are steps away from your room at the Edgewater Beach Resort, where a professionally managed beachfront means pristine sands and activities from the relaxing to the exhilarating.
Luxury beach beds are available for rental, as well as cabanas, umbrellas, kayaks and paddleboards. And when your day is done, sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico are second to none. Teach your kids the “Sand Dollar Shuffle” to uncover treasures of your own, and be sure to watch for dolphins around sunset.
Florida Gulf Coast Locations: Opal Sands Resort | Sandpearl Resort | Belleview Inn | Edgewater Beach Hotel | Zota Beach Resort | Lido Beach Resort | The Resort at Longboat Key Club | Treasure Island Beach Resort