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Mouse-free family fun
Looking for an alternative to Disney? Places to go when the kids are ready for something cooler.
March 2, 2005: 11:15 AM EST
By Les Christie, CNN/Money staff writer
Photo gallerylaunchSee more photos

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The kids are old enough now. They've stopped clamoring to vacation in Disney World.

Now's a good time to take them on a trip they'll always remember, and one you can enjoy as well.

There are thousands of great ways to spend your holiday without having to leave the United States, many of them sufficiently off the beaten path.

Dave Downing of travel publisher Fodor's says one mistake parents often make is that they "tend to think of the destination instead of the activity." Instead of "Where do you want to go?" he says to think in terms of "What do you want to do?"

Many interests or hobbies kids have can be pursued in a variety of locations. Downing says a good way to break out of a family vacation rut is by "doing something familiar in an unfamiliar place."

If the kids like boating, go kayaking in Mexico. Are they booklovers? Take the Harry Potter tour in England. Avid bikers? Tour France on two wheels.

Another key -- and one not all parents consider, according to Downing -- is to involve your kids in the planning.

"Kids need to assert their independence," he notes. "They'll feel a sense of 'ownership' of the trip if they feel they're making the important decisions."

Start by getting them to research the holiday. By performing an image search on the Web, they will be able to view hundreds of great pictures. That can help charge their enthusiasm for the visit.

When the kids are enthused about the trip, they're likely to enjoy it more. At least they won't be looking for excuses to hate it.

Click here for some travel destinations where the focus is food.  Top of page

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