11 Family Fun Trips for 2012

Ride horses, zip lines, or gondolas with the whole family this year

A child's dream vacation doesn't generally include leisurely strolls through museums and an afternoon of wine tasting, and parents tend not to enjoy Disney dinner theatre — so where’s the middle ground? Traveling with kids is tough, but despite airplane tantrums, weather-induced boredom, and picky eaters, it’s also worth it. Family getaways create some of the best and most unforgettable memories, not to mention great photos and stories to tell back home. Choosing where to go is often the first obstacle (the old Paris versus Epcot debate) and finding the right balance of adult-friendly and kid-centric is the trick.

Click here to see the 11 Family Fun Trips for 2012 Slideshow.

For your next family vacation, bring a sense of adventure and humor to a dude ranch, where everyone can learn a little something, from how to twirl a lasso to horseback riding skills. Being out on a working cattle ranch is the perfect place to bring everyone together over family-style dinners of fried chicken and hearty steaks and days spent in the fresh mountain air. Or experience the family-friendly thrill of zip-lining in Costa Rica. From exploring waterfalls to helping out with turtle conservation projects, Costa Rica is made for family adventures.

Historical towns may be a tougher sell for some kids, but the key is to build in adventures and outdoor activities so that the weekend isn’t just spent walking through historical homes and museums. The battlefields of Gettysburg are a great first stop, or show the kids how to earn their keep by learning to churn butter in colonial Williamsburg. You can even stop by a colonial costume shop to play the part for a day. On the other hand, there is something to be said for planning little more than a flight and hotel reservation to, say, Hawaii. Playing in the water, hanging out with other kids at the hotel, and letting the grown-ups drink umbrella cocktails by the pool doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Just don’t get too comfortable — you’ll want to show them something more than how to order room service at some point.