We are a family of 4 (2 kids age 11 & 15)....we want to go somewhere preferably sunny.....which would include some day trips to sites (we have checked out Playa de Carmen and Mayan ruins etc) Thought maybe someone may have some suggestions of places we hadn't considered. Money is a consideration, don't want to break the bank :) We're looking for about a week long, preferably flying out of Vancouver BC or Calgary AB. Thanks in advance!
I thik Playa Del Carmen is an excellent idea if you are flying out of Canada.
It´s a real good place to combine archaelogical sites with some nice beach.
I agree, I think the Playa del Carmen area is perfect for kids that age, there are lots of places to snorkel, a couple of ecoparks (Xelha and Xcaret), lots of interesting daytrips, three major ruin sites within a daytrip distance (Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum). We've been to a lot of Caribbean and a couple of other Mexican cities and by far this is the place I'd recommend checking out first.
I know a lot of people are anti cruise but we've been doing Caribbean cruises for the last couple of years, you go weekend to weekend and stop by 4 or 5 different spots. San Juan has got a lot of interesting things to see and a lot of the cruises leave from there, we've done some really interesting things-snorkeling with turtles, river tubing, hiking. I don't know what cabin arrangements they have for families but it might actually come out relatively close to a resort if you went all inclusive.
For something completely different, think Washington DC/Williamsburg/Jamestown. As you may remember, Jamestown was the first permanent English colony (if I'm not mistaken) in North America. Up until a few years ago, they thought that the site was under the James River, but it turns out that most of the site is on an "island" next to the river, next to the Jamestown that was also a village in the 1800s. There's a museum on site as well as reconstruction of much of the wall around the "town" and a sample common building.
Fortunately, Jamestown is not far from Williamsburg, itself a very historical city. Resurrected in a sense by the Rockefeller family decades ago, there are original and rebuilt structures dating from before and during the American Revolution. As you may know, Colonial Williamsburg is staffed by re-enactors who stay in character. They believe that it is generally a date in 1775 - just before the outbreak of fighting - and the seamstress or blacksmith or minister or whomever will happily talk to you about the events of the day...that day in 1775.
Williamsburg is also a college town (William and Mary) and has plenty of hotels to stay in, making it a great place to see Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and even Yorktown. Note that Yorktown, the site of the last battle of the American Revolution, is also on the same peninsula as Williamsburg and Jamestow. The archaeologists in the family may enjoy walking across the mounds and ditches that mark the fortifications thrown up by the British and the Colonials.
Of course, if you fly in to DC and spend part of the time driving to Williamsburg, you not only have the option to see 25,000,000 things in DC, but also to stop by Fredericksburg on the way down to Richmond (on the way to Williamsburg) whose general area was the site of 4(?) battles in the American Civil War. Some bizarre memories are that bullets and other debris are so common there that these artifacts are sold in local stores - yeah, I thought that artifacts from the Civil War would be protected somehow, but they are so plentiful that there is apparently no need. In addition, across the river, there stands a house that served as the Union HQ during the most prominent battle, and the thing that stands out in my mind is in a glass case - the oldest example of a telegraph in the US...no, not the little key but a big wheel-shaped thing. When a guy set the wheel in one location to point to a letter, the other machine on the same line in a different location would set itself to the same letter....cooooool...
As for DC, you can imagine all the places to go, but I have to believe that normal young teenagers would want to see the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum out at Dulles Airport, where they have a space shuttle; the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest jet in the world; the Boeing Dash 80, the prototype of the 707; the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay; and the deHavilland Chipmunk aerobatic airplane - see
How about New Mexico? There are quite a number of places through there that have some historical significance, including Chaco Canyon, Sky City, several sets of ruins up near Farmington, and some fairly historical areas of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. There are some places that are just scenery too, such as El Malpais National Monument, Bandera Volcano & Ice Caves, and various others.
Big problem there is going to be the huge distances involved, as nothing is very close to anything else. I spent some time in New Mexico doing some volunteer work, and there are people that think nothing of driving 70 miles to commute to their job as good jobs are few and far between.
I second the New Mexico area abut actually the entire 4 corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. You could visit Mesa verde National Park. That is the only National Park dedicated to the works do man. There are dozens of archaeological sites in this area.
I also agree that Playa del Carmen might be a great idea to include both sides of a vacation (warm, sunny beaches AND historical/arch), but you don't say when you would be going, and the heat and humidity, as well as hurricane season there might dictate otherwise.
Our members are so on top of it!
I think it really depends if you want beach in the equation... a few years ago, my parents took my sister and myself (at the time, ages 17 & 19) to Cancun, we stayed in the Hotel Zone and almost never left the resort, except to go to Chichen Itza... and it was really awesome! (So awesome in fact, you'll notice a photo from that trip is actually my profile pic here on VT!) Playa del Carmen is definitely a nicer area, but it's also much more expensive - and I believe significantly further to Chichen Itza (it was about an hour from Cancun by bus). The other thing to keep in mind is when you want to go - we went in December and it was still quite hot and exhausting inland at the ruins - I can't even imagine what that place is like now or in June!
The other place I was going to suggest is Utah/Four Corners area mentioned above... I would check out member goodfish's amazing photos of Utah - including Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park - super beautiful and lots of athletic activities.
My last suggestion is Cuba - similar to Dab's suggestion of San Juan - a LOT of my friends have gone to Cuba this spring and say it's very cool, almost like being transported back in time - and the architecture/colonial bulidings are supposedly amazing. Might be a bit of a trek from Vancouver, but as Canadians, it also means you won't have any of the Visa mess we have here in the US!
Keep us posted as to what you end up deciding!
Blake, you must have been having a good time on that bus :-) It's 116 miles to Chichen Itza from Cancun (133 miles from PDC), most things I found said it's around 2 1/2 hours to get there from Cancun, 3 from PDC, more if you stop somewhere en route. It's really a full day trip from either one but well worth it. Just note that it's inland and if you are going in the summer months it will be HOT. Tulum, Cozumel, Yalku, Xcaret, Xelha, Akumal, Coba are all closer to PDC, they are all south of PDC except Cozumel which is directly across from it. PDC does tend to be more expensive than Cancun for lodging but they've added a lot of all inclusive resorts which will hopefully drive the prices down at some point.