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Children grow up these days surrounded by screens and non-stop digital chatter, and parents are hustling to keep up with all the latest technology. It’s no wonder that so many families just want to unplug over the holidays. Activities such as fishing, berry-picking and kayaking — standard summertime adventures for past generations — are now novelties.
A lot of hoteliers are incorporating these hands-on, nature-based activities in their programming and finding that guests relish the opportunity to get their hands dirty with a day of outdoor play.
Fly Fish With Whiteface LodgeUpstate New York is a wilderness paradise just a few hours’ drive from the big city. Streams and rivers cut through a vast forest, with Lake Placid as the northern hub of what little civilization is there.
This respite away from the hustle and bustle is a perfect place to learn fly-fishing. Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center has public fishing access, but if an entire family needs to learn the basics, Whiteface Lodge offers guests complimentary fly-casting lessons in the resort’s rainbow trout pond. The pond is stocked, and the program is catch-and-release, making this an easy introduction to the sport. Summer rates at Whiteface Lodge, inclusive of breakfast, start at $356 per night.
Hands-On Fun at Vermont's Stowe Mountain LodgeVermont offers the New England summer vacation experience with a focus on eco-friendly activities. In the northern Vermont resort village of Stowe, families are encouraged to get out and take a hike, ride a horse or learn rock-climbing. Stowe Mountain Lodge offers a very Vermont hands-on family bonding experience: a furniture-making class at a local artisan’s workshop. If your group prefers the great outdoors, an “Alpine concierge” is on hand to arrange a picnic, suggest a farm tour or point guests to hidden swimming holes and canoe-safe waterways.
Kayak Around New York’s Thousand Islands RegionA six-hour drive from the tri-state metro area is New York’s Thousand Islands region — right on the Canada border, home to 28 New York state parks and hundreds of miles of coastline. The area’s endless outdoor adventures appeal to that basic explorers’ instinct: Go forth and seek new territory. Paddleboats, kayaks, dinghies and all other manner of watercraft are available to rent and take exploring through the bays and inlets. There are actually 2,000 islands to discover — making it easy to “stake your claim” on one for the day.
Mostly known as a camping and vacation rental spot, Thousand Islands just welcomed the opening of the 105-room 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel in the town of Clayton on the St. Lawrence River. Recommend it to travelers who prefer their boating adventures to end each day with full-service pampering. Rates begin at $159 per night.
Live the Lumberjack Life in VancouverVancouver, Canada, is a bustling city surrounded by forests and farmland. In a successful play toward the public’s appetite for blue-collar entertainment, Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain offers an “Alpine Experience and Lumberjack Show” that showcases regional history as well as some serious axe throwing. Tickets range from $43.95 to $57.95 for adults and $113.95 to $139.95 for a family four-pack.
Boutique downtown property Loden Hotel has been offering the “I’m a Lumberjack Package” since 2013. When booked, the entire guestroom is outfitted like a cabin, and guests get a special wardrobe of Pendleton-brand, flannel-heavy attire — theirs to keep after the stay. After a hearty pancake brunch, the hotel provides car service out to Grouse Mountain for a days’ worth of woodsy activity. The package starts at $478 per night, plus a $202 fee for car service to Grouse Mountain.