hong kong skyline

Plan an amazing weekend vacation with the whole family. (Photo: Getty Images)


Long Weekend with Kids on Your Horizon? 6 Family Getaways the Whole Gang Will Love

Families who love to travel seize every opportunity to explore cities around the globe, even if that means squeezing worldly adventures into a weekend. And why not? In two to three days, a lot of ground can be covered and unforgettable memories made.

As always, check for travel restrictions or closures before planning your trip.

Touch the Sky in Calgary and Banff

Icefield Skywalk
Take a stroll on the Icefield Skywalk. (Photo: Getty Images)

Have lofty weekend getaway goals? Canada’s Calgary region — including Banff, land of the Canadian Rockies — is just the ticket.

A bird’s-eye view of city sights can be had from Calgary Tower’s Observation Deck or Sky 360, the Tower’s rotating restaurant. Did the 626-foot building stoke the urge to have more adventures on high? Banff has you covered.

Hop aboard the Banff Sightseeing Gondola to be whisked 2,292 feet to Sulphur Mountain summit. En route are dazzling views of six mountain ranges. Duck into the family-targeted Interpretive Centre, or soak in panoramas from a boardwalk leading to Sanson’s Peak, home to the historic Sulfur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station.

Some destinations elicit a “Wow!” Others, “Breathtaking!” The Columbia Icefield Skywalk in Jasper, Canada, brings on a “Gulp.” This glass walkway encompasses just over half a mile and is 918 feet above the giant glaciers and waterfalls of Sunwapta Valley.

Puerto Vallarta’s Isla Cuale

Puerto Vallarta has gorgeous beaches, and one way to appreciate PV’s shoreline is a walk along the Malecón Boardwalk. There’s much to take in, from bronze statues to sweet cafés and … vivid colors streaking across the sky? No, this isn’t the sunset. Instead, it’s a daily performance by the Flying Totonac dancers of Papantla.

This troupe of men ascends a towering pole to honor Xipe Totec (god of spring and agriculture), Tlaloc (the rain god) and others. Once at the top, they dive headfirst toward the crowd; the only thing keeping them from hitting the ground are ropes attached to their ankles.

Enticed to learn more about Mexico’s culture? Continue along Malecón to downtown’s Romantic Zone. Here, three hanging bridges lead to Isla del Rio Cuale and its Cuale Archaeological Museum, where pre-Colombian pottery, tombs and artifacts promise to introduce visitors to Mexico’s rich history, one where tales are told about Xipe Totec, and Tlaloc.

Florence’s Great Outdoors

Pont Vecchio bridge
There’s so much to do in Florence. (Photo: Getty Images)

There are a multitude of museums, cathedrals and palaces to see in Florence. And you should visit them — but there’s magic to be discovered outdoors, as well. Pure enchantment awaits in Boboli Gardens, with sweeping city vistas, fountains, sculptures, flora and caves.

Not to miss: Buontalenti Cave, or Grotta Grande. It was built between about 1583 and 1593 and designed by Bernardo Buontalenti. Revel in its three rooms of treasures, decorated with artificial stalactites as well as frescoes and mosaics portraying satyrs, sea goats and more.

Plan time for strolling along the River Arno via Florence’s six bridges, Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Amerigo Vespucci, Ponte alla Carraia, Ponte alle Grazie, Indiano and Ponte Santa Trinita.

San Diego’s Call of the Wild

As family destinations go, San Diego has it all: sunny beaches, cultural attractions, theme parks, sports venues. So where to go first with all of these great options? Commune with creatures. Start with a visit to San Diego Zoo and its endlessly entertaining orangutans, sunbathing penguins and grinning dwarf crocodiles.

Don’t want to leave once the sun goes down? Spend the night outdoors via the zoo’s San Diego Safari Park’s Roar & Snore Safari, where tent accommodations find guests listening to elephants bellowing under the moon. Got time to squeeze in one more outing? Give marine life their due at SeaWorld San Diego.

Hong Kong by Sea and by Land

Junk boat Victoria Harbor Hong Kong
Sail on a junk in Victoria Harbor. (Photo: Getty Images)

Mental images of Hong Kong often include historic junk boats with majestic red sails adorning the waters of Victoria Harbour.

Today, a sole, original junk boat remains for public use, Dukling. This three-mast antique wooden sailing vessel was first launched in 1955. The company Aqualuna does have two replica junks available for tourist cruises. The Dukling, though, with its shrine to the sea goddess Matsu and burning incense, is an iconic link to Hong Kong’s past.

What should you be on the lookout for while cruising Victoria Harbour? Sites to visit once on dry land, including peaceful temples and buzzing marketplaces, as well as culinary gems and arts and cultural attractions.

Scout out the best spot for catching the city’s nightly fireworks show, “A Symphony of Lights.” View it en route to The Peak on the newly reopened Peak Tram, a funicular railway that makes its way up to 1,300 feet above sea-level.

Getting One’s Vroom On in Abu Dhabi

Cuisine, architecture and culture call for immersion in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. And yes, there’s high-speed action. Looking to channel your or your kids’ inner Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen? Head to where these Formula One legends race toward the finish line, Yas Marina Circuit, site of Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Must-dos: a behind-the-scenes guided tour, followed by getting behind the wheel at the Yas Kartzone (open to all ages). Feeling the need for more speed? Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park waits to fulfill G-force wishes in myriad ways. Among them, Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster that zooms to 149 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds.