You want the kids to get back to nature, but in a multimedia world, it’s hard to grab their attention with animal studies and nature walks. Why not give them a zip-lining adventure that combines the beauty of nature with an adrenaline rush? Let loose your inner Tarzan, and zip over to the Hill Country in Spicewood, Texas, or fly to Big Sky, Montana, for an aerial view of the beauty of Yellowstone.
By Plane: Big Sky, Montana
Whether you’re facing fears or looking for adventure, you’ll be glad that you took the plunge at Yellowstone Zipline at Big Sky Resort in Big Sky, Montana. Your adventure begins with a short hike up the scenic mountain, where you launch into the snow-tipped alpine canopy. You’ll be hollering through the trees, but be sure to look below where you can often see moose and bear checking out your flight. Once you’ve conquered the zip lines, you can try your skills at Big Sky’s High Ropes Course, which offers 10 challenging features suspended 20–30 feet above the ground. After the thrills of the sky, adventures on terra firma wait for you at Yellowstone National Park.
Where to Lay Your Head:
Located slope-side at the Big Sky Resort, Summit Hotel at Big Sky puts you in the center of the fun for the whole family. The condo accommodations with two or three bedrooms and full kitchens ensure that everyone has room to spread out, but with all the activities on hand, you won’t want to spend much time in your room. Kids will love the putting green and the nightly movie on the big screen, while Mom and Dad can relax with yoga in the wellness studio or try their hand at fly fishing. There is room for everyone in the 100-person hot tub for a relaxing way to end the day.
Where to Eat:
It begins with a 20-minute ride in a Sno-Cat and ends with an evening of sledding and stargazing, so it’s sure to be a dinner out the kids won’t forget. The Montana Dinner Yurt offers an exotic backcountry dining experience by whisking you away to a cozy yurt where your meal is served by candlelight and with warm hospitality. Three courses, including French onion soup, filet mignon and warm Toblerone chocolate fondue are served family style, but kids can also order chicken tenders or buttered pasta. After dinner, enjoy the torch-lit sledding run, stopping only to look at the stars, or warm up by the campfire.
By Car: Spicewood, Texas
What to Do:
Spanning the branches of sprawling bald cypress trees are a network of sky bridges and zip lines that allow you to tempt your sense of adventure while enjoying the natural beauty of the gorge below. Cypress Valley Canopy Tours in Spicewood, Texas, is designed to allow visitors to explore from high above so that the nature below can be kept in pristine condition. As you’re soaring through the trees, your experienced guides will point out the flora and fauna along the pathway below. After the flight, you might want to stick around – at least for the night. Beginning in March 2013, you can sway gently to sleep in a circular yurt hotel set 70 feet atop a grove of cypress trees. Enjoy the breathtaking view of cliff faces and wildlife from the 360-degree balcony that surrounds your lodging.
Where to Lay Your Head:
Retreat to Lake Travis Ranch where you’ll find an intimate lakeside retreat that gets you back to nature in the height of luxury. Situated on beautiful Lake Travis, you’ll enjoy a private boat dock and heated pool with beach access, or spread out on the six-acre property where you’ll find games of horseshoes and washers as well as a built-in putting green. After a day of outdoor play, you’ll be ready to relax with a bucket of popcorn in the theater room or watch the sunset from the second-story deck.
Where to Eat:
Is it a restaurant? A deli? A bakery? At Mandola’s Italian Market the answer is all of the above, and the motto is Italian hospitality for the whole family. Celebrating 100 years of authentic Italian recipes from Mama’s kitchen, you’ll feel as if you’re on the streets of Italy with specialty shops laid out in the indoor market. Choose a freshly made Margherita pizza or homemade pasta from the ristorante or stroll over to the deli to select a sandwich with imported Italian meats and cheeses. Kids will love the pint-sized tables and chairs alongside the grownup tables, and to sweeten the deal, they can hop over to the gelateria for a free scoop of gelato. Don’t forget to stop at the grocery store for imported Italian goods and wine.