Why we love it: Pack the beach umbrella and head off on a road trip along Michigan’s west coast, which will win the family over with its ocean-like lake views. The route is dotted with Americana beach towns with all the trimmings—ice cream shops, breweries, lighthouses—to outline your itinerary with well-timed stops. In New Buffalo, try sand-boarding lessons with Third Coast Surf; spread out in Saugatuck at pretty Oval Beach, then nosh on locally-sourced homestyle dishes in the courtyard at Pennyroyal Café & Provisions; visit Grand Haven for the Coast Guard Festival from late July to August; and hop on the scenic M22 highway to atmospheric Glen Arbor, the gateway to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Once you recover from Sleeping Bear’s stunning Lake Michigan views, check out the Maritime Museum, run down Dune Climb, and comb Good Harbor beach for fossilized stones.
Where to stay: Want a private house with a pool, beach, and hot tub? Sky is not out of the question with Bluefish Vacation Rentals, where you’ll find a serious range of vacation homes from cottages to sweeping beachfront perches, just a couple hours from Chicago in southwest Michigan. Further up the coast in South Haven, go for a midwestern glamping experience that’s also dog-friendly at The Fields of Michigan. Set on a working 30-acre blueberry farm, this is the place for upscale tents poised around an idyllic pond, complimentary breakfast and bike rentals (ideal for getting to the beach), and a spa tent with forest-inspired treatments.
The Galápagos, Ecuador
Best for: Wildlife fanatics
Why we love it: The volcanic Galápagos Islands, home to an abundance of unafraid and gentle wildlife, and are a perfect place to introduce kids to such wonders of the world. The most popular way to experience the archipelago is by boat, and though there are a few posh options for 100-plus passengers, like Silversea Origins and Celebrity Cruises’ Flora, a more relaxed and intimate option for families is a small adventure yacht with Abercrombie & Kent. Not a fan of cruising? Immersive land-based options exist—along with Galápagos famed giant tortoises—in the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island. At Galapagos Safari Camp, days can be as flexible or tailored as you wish, with private activities that include surf lessons, art classes with a local artist, and full-day boating excursions. You’ll feel like you stepped into a fairytale where tortoises amble out of ponds and into an organic coffee farm at Montemar eco luxury villas, a modern vision of sustainability and harmony with the natural world. Set on 43 acres of private land, Montemar was designed by husband-and-wife team Roberto Plaza, a naturalist guide in Galápagos since 1994, and Reyna Oleas, a passionate conservationist. They’ve also raised their own family here and know a thing or two about plotting meaningful family adventures.