Adventure: an exciting or remarkable experience. We took this definition to heart as we explored active-and inspired-family getaways. Where did our search take us? To exquisite mountain paradises and stellar seaside settings. From kayaking to cavorting with dolphins, from hiking to hunting fossils, these adventures are worth traveling for.
Channel your inner Indiana Jones and take a walk on the wild side of this Gulf Coast hot spot: Paddle through alligator-filled waters, see dolphins in the wild, canoe through mangrove-lined waterways or hunt for fossils on sugary white beaches. The adventure Begin your exploration at Myakka River State Park, where you can backpack through 39 miles of trails that Native American warriors once roamed. Then hop into kayaks and paddle upriver as gators glide by. Younger kids and faint-of-heart parents can opt for the airboat tour instead-bring your binoculars to check out the ospreys and bald eagles. End the afternoon by climbing the 74-foot-high Canopy Walkway tower. Also explore the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, where the kids can feed flamingos, chase butterflies and hold an alligator and a Burmese python. And hop over to Casperson Beach in Venice to dig through powder-white sand for prehistoric sharks' teeth. Also take the Sarasota Bay Explorers' Sea Life Encounter Cruise at Mote Marine Laboratory to experience dolphins, puffer fish and sea horses. Other attractions Check out G.WIZ-The-Hands-On Science Museum, with 85 exhibits including robot building and animated filmmaking, and the Circus Museum at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to study the big top. Where to stay The suite-only Colony Beach & Tennis Resort (from $195 per night) on 18 beachfront acres features a complimentary kids' camp, pool, spa and an award-winning restaurant. For more info www.sarasotafl.org; Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, 800-282-1138, www.colonybeachresort.com.
MONCTON New Brunswick, Canada
We just had to tell you about this mesmerizing natural wonderland, only a two-hour flight from New York City. The kids will quickly forget MySpace and iPods when they set eyes on the whales, foxes and little brown bats found in this North Atlantic coast locale. And parents, get ready to awaken childhood dreams and break out of your comfort zone as you explore the Bay of Fundy's ocean floor with your children or rappel off the nearby cliffs-all within easy reach of the quaint and welcoming Canadian city of Moncton. The adventure The area's hottest attraction has to be the world-famous tidal bores. These phenomena of the extreme tides (highest in the world) of the nearby Bay of Fundy allowyou to trek the Atlantic Ocean floor in search of fossils-then kayak over the same spot six hours later! And oh, the Hopewell Rocks, colossal formations jutting from the seabed, created by weather and tides over millions of years. Also near Moncton are white gypsum caves to explore and bird-watching on Cape Enrage Beach. In winter, families can enjoy ice-skating, tobogganing, cross-country skiing and even a magical sleigh ride at Broadleaf Ranch, just 45 minutes from Moncton. Other attractions At the Olivier Soapery, a guide will keep the kids busy with a hands-on soapmaking tutorial while you shop for aromatherapy bath salts and massage oils. And be sure to explore the Saturday Farmers' Market in the neighboring town of Dieppe for homemade goodies and crafts to bring back to the city folk. You can also drive your rental car to Moncton's Magnetic Hill, where an optical illusion makes it seem like your car is rolling uphill backwards. Hungry? Enjoy fresh lobster rolls and "sandpiper" chowder at the charming Bell Inn, the oldest stone building in New Brunswick. Where to stay The kids will marvel at all the little bunnies running around the grounds of the Wild Rose Inn. This kitschy, antique-laden inn, complete with whirlpool baths and fireplaces in most rooms, has a comfy-cozy feel you'll appreciate after all your daily adventures (from $120 per night). …