A barbecue at the park, a party at a lakeside or farm, or a bash in a hotel ballroom — these spots feel familiar for a family reunion.
To get beyond these typical spots, think creatively. A big event could be a chance for family members to check off a bucket-list destination or step off the beaten track. Either way, you and your family get the chance to share exciting experiences, bond and make memories together.
“People are wanting to travel [and] are still spending the money,” says independent travel adviser Nicole Wooten of Travelin’ Goddess in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “They’ve been at home all this time and they want to do things with their families.”
If you plan to drive to your destination, be prepared for high prices at the gas pump. If you’re flying, watch out for delays or cancellations at the airport. Taking those risks into consideration, try heading someplace a bit different for your family reunion. Several of these destinations invite family members into the outdoors and are all-inclusive, meaning the price includes lodging, food, activities and, in some cases, the cost of transportation.
1. Go west(ern)
Dude ranches are about more than cowboy hats and horseback riding. Today they offer a host of activities — from fishing, archery and golf to teen-friendly fun like laser tag and zip-lining to petting zoos, e-biking and spas for everyone.
While many ranches are located out West in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, you’ll also find options in Arizona, Arkansas and Texas. They cater to groups, and many specialize in family reunions. Adult all-inclusive rates range from less than $1,000 to $4,100 for a one-week stay per adult; children cost less.
“Dude ranches have something for anyone at any age — whether it’s toddlers getting to run around the lawn, kids who ride a horse or grandparents who can ... bird-watch,” says Bryce Albright, executive director of the Dude Ranchers Association. “There’s no real planning once you get there, and that’s a big draw.”
The Dude Ranchers Association lets you search for ranches nationwide by using criteria like type of accommodation, activities and even special events such as a family reunion or wellness week. At Elkhorn Ranch near Tucson, Arizona, children 5 and younger can’t ride horses, but they stay for free. To completely disconnect, Lost Valley Ranch in Sedalia, Colorado, has fresh mountain air, line dancing and fly-fishing, but it doesn’t have cellphone coverage or televisions in the cabins. (The lodge keeps two free phones on hand for making outside calls.)
Tip: Many ranches are a one- to two-hour drive from a major airport.