Family travel is about having fun, but that doesn’t mean parents can’t nurture their budding adventurer at the same time. Travel writer Heather Greenwood Davis and her 14-year-old son, Cameron—also a published writer—discover some experiences that will nurture your child’s current obsessions while still teaching them valuable life skills.

The Main Experience

Horseback Riding at Elk Mountain Ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado

This Rocky Mountain ranch is a great way to introduce kids to the joy and responsibility of animal interactions and country life. Along with horses, there are traditional western activities such as archery and hayrides. Best of all, the secluded location means families can spend a week together free from outside intrusions. There is a children’s program so kids as young as three are entertained. It’s the mix of independent activities and family time that makes it a great getaway option.

Heather Greenwood Davis (left) and her son Cameron (right)
Heather Greenwood Davis (left) and her son Cameron (right)

Heather says: “Kids exposed to animals in a natural environment learn to respect them. It is a lesson that can carry over to how they treat kids in the schoolyard. Plus, it’s never too early to foster skills like independence and responsibility.”

Cameron says: “The excitement that comes from riding a horse for the first time is insane. I first rode a horse when I was six. When you’re that little, the feeling that comes from bonding with an animal three times your size lasts a long time.”

3 More Family-Friendly Adventures

Mountain Biking in Whistler, B.C.

Whistler Mountain Bike Park, photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler

Put them at the helm of their own mountain bike at Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Join them (and a guide if you opt for a lesson) for a few runs down the mountain and watch everyone’s confidence grow.

Surfing in Costa Rica

Photo courtesy Peaks ‘n Swells Surf Camp

Ride a wave (or at least attempt to) on a surfboard off one of the incredible beaches in Costa Rica. Family surf classes mean you all get a shot at hanging ten and mastering a skill together.

Ziplining in Saint Lucia

Photo courtesy Rainforest Adventures

Kids love adventures that feel dangerous, parents love knowing their children are safe. Youngsters who meet the height and waist size requirements can join the zipline fun at Rainforest Adventures.

[This story appears in the March 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine]