When thinking about a vacation where you are planning to stay fit, major cities may not come to mind. You may be surprised how many cities throughout the US have terrific options for staying active. Our list covers locations from all over the country. Whether you head east, west, north or south, you are bound to find something to suit your needs. Check out our list of 8 great cities for family fitness vacations.
Many of our Traveling Moms love active family adventures, myself included. Pack your activity trackers and get ready to “feel the burn” at some of our favorite cities for active family vacations. A few may surprise you.
1. New York, New York
You can easily average 10,000-20,000 steps a day walking the streets and museums of New York City. You can even take the option to walk up some of stairs leading to the top of the Empire State Building. Another fantastic walk is across the Brooklyn Bridge. To get off your feet, but still remain active, rent bikes to cycle through Central Park. The Park Drive loop is 6.1 miles and closed to cars weekdays 10am-3pm, weekends and most holidays.
Did you know that New York has nearly 30,000 acres of green space across the five boroughs? Terry Marshall, our Globe Trotting TravelingMom says, “From climbing trees to running around playgrounds or climbing rocks, kids can run off excessive energy while you soak up the ambiance of the cityscape.”
New York Healthy Eating Recommendation: These days, you can even get healthy salads from many of the food trucks around town. My all time favorite is by CHLOE. It’s not unusual to have to wait in line, but now you can order ahead, which would be perfect for a family picnic. The quinoa tacos and guac burger are amazing! (various locations)
2. San Francisco, California
Exploring the hilly neighborhoods of San Francisco is a very active family adventure. Sherry Boswell, our Melodious TravelingMom recommends a 5-hour electric bike tour with Dylan’s Tours. Kids need to be at least 16 years old for this tour so it’s a great option for older teens who get bored easily. The electric option helps when you legs are a bit too tired. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is a highlight of the tour. For younger kids, Karen Heffen recommends a visit to nearby Muir Woods for a hike surrounded by the giant redwoods.
San Francisco Healthy Eating Recommendation: Near Golden Gate Park is the Daily Health Food and Deli. They serve healthy options like vegan falafel plates, kale-avocado salads, pizza with sun-dried tomatoes and guacamole. There are delicious smoothies and juices too! (1235 9th Ave)
3. Indianapolis, Indiana
Known for NASCAR racing, Indianapolis might not be on your radar if you are not a race car fan. For an active family, this city should definitely be on your list. There are a number of great family-friendly bike paths with a plethora of rental spots along the path. Don’t miss the chance to raft or kayak along the White River as well. In March of 2018, the Sport Legend Experience opens. It’s a wide open area with 14 different sports families can play together.
Indianapolis Healthy Eating Recommendation: The Healthy Food Cafe lives up to it’s name sourcing the freshest ingredients everyday. For a treat, they even have an organic cheesecake. YUM! (8028 S. Emerson Ave, Suite F.)
4. Boise, Idaho
Boise is only 30 minutes from the mountains for skiing and snowboarding in winter and camping and hiking in summer. Within the city, there is a 25-mile-long path known as the Green Belt. It follows the Boise River and connects multiple city parks. Another great option in summer is taking a raft or kayak down the Boise River, which goes right through downtown Boise. It can be a leisurely float, but be sure to paddle too for a great upper body workout.
Boise Healthy Eating Recommendation: Try Juniper in downtown for a great farm-to-table experience. Another restaurant, called Fork has great healthy options like Asparagus ‘Fries,’ Idaho rainbow trout, and an heirloom beet salad. There’s a kids menu for the picky eaters too. (211 N 8th St)
5. Portland, Oregon
Portland is the perfect choice for families who want to visit a city, but still be close to nature. In fact, Portland has enough hiking paths within the city limits to walk for hours. Within 30 minutes of downtown, you can overlook the spectacular Columbia River Gorge or experience some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. What’s great about Portland is that so many options both in and out of the city are FREE. We’ve even come up with a list of 18 free things to do with Kids. How’s that for easy travel planning?
Portland Healthy Eating Recommendation: I’ve been to Portland a number of times and you really can’t go wrong with a trip to the famous Food Trucks or one of the many Farmer’s Markets. I highly recommend a Food Court Tour if you have time. There is something for everyone and plenty of heathy choices.
6. Oahu, Hawaii
Oahu, Hawaii, has long been known as a tourist haven offering plenty of activities for all ages. Make sure to go beyond the beach for some unforgettable kid-friendly activities. A super unique activity for kids is surfing with dogs. Yes, it’s really a thing! Head to the North Shore and find Hans Hedemann Surf School for their Dog Surfing program. Another not to be missed activity that is sure to burn a ton of calories is a hike on the Diamond Head Trail. It is one of the most beautiful Oahu hikes, offering amazing 360 degrees views at the summit.
Oahu Healthy Eating Recommendation: Moku Kitchen is famous for cooking locally sourced ingredients over an open fire. They use organic produce and proteins from local sustainable farms, ranches and fishermen. The roasted veggie plate is amazing. For kids there are delicious burgers made from grass fed Hawaiian beef. An extensive wine, beer and cocktail list is perfect for parents who want to wind down after a busy day.
7. Albuquerque, New Mexico
The central location of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is what makes it great for an active vacation. Hotel rooms are affordable and you can easily make day trips to hike in the desert or bike in the mountains. A great spot for kids is Petroglyph National Monument where families scramble over volcanic boulders and discover drawings from over 700 years ago. It is home to more than 3,000 petroglyphs carved into the volcanic rock. For cycling enthusiasts, rent mountain bikes and head to the White Ridge Trail System for offering bike paths with spectacular views.
Albuquerque Healthy Eating Recommendation: Don’t leave town without a visit to El Pinto. This Albuquerque institution offers fresh and clean New Mexican cuisine made from scratch each day. The restaurant sits on twelve acres and includes a 5,000 square foot manufacturing facility to produce salsa and sauces for retail. You’ll want to take some home for sure! (10500 4th Street)
7. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting Myrtle Beach. It’s not just a place for college spring break. There are so many places to get active in the area. One of my favorite places is Brookgreen Gardens. It is on the site of a former rice plantation and home to a extensive walking paths. It also includes a zoo, wildlife preserve, pontoon boat tours, and picturesque sculpture gardens. You can walk for hours and not get bored. Another spot perfect for an active family is Huntington Beach State Park. Home to a variety of landscapes, visitors can beach comb 3 miles of pristine coastline. You can also observe birds, alligators, crabs and more by walking the many nature trails and boardwalks.
Myrtle Beach Healthy Eating Recommendation: Visit Wicked Tuna – Located on beautiful Murrells Inlet, this restaurant is obsessed with fresh fish. In fact, they have their own dock for the fishing boats to deliver their daily catch. The restaurant is especially famous for artistic sushi rolls. The King Dragon roll is amazing! There are plenty of choices for land lovers too! My splurge was a pomegranate martini. (4123 (Highway 17 [Business] Murrells Inlet, SC)